By on August 2, 2021

1989 Mitsubishi Montero in Denver junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhile Mitsubishi sold Montero-badged Pajeros in North America from the 1985 through 2006 model years, the boxy first-generation version (and its Dodge Raider twin— no, not the Mitsubishi Raider) is the one most of us recognize as the true Montero. Since I live in Montero-loving Colorado, I find plenty of these trucks in junkyards and have the privilege of choosing only the nicest ones to share as Junkyard Finds. Here’s a low-mile ’89 that now resides in a car graveyard just north of downtown Denver.

Not a speck of rust on the body, the interior remains unshredded, and the odometer shows that it averaged just over 3,700 miles of driving for each of its 32 years.

1989 Mitsubishi Montero in Denver junkyard, gearshift - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe manual transmission would have made this old truck a tough sell, granted, but you’d think some local Montero hoarder would have added it to their fleet when it became available. I suspect that every first-gen Montero fanatic living on the Front Range already owns 19 of these trucks.

1989 Mitsubishi Montero in Denver junkyard, Colorado Parks passes - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWith a Thule ski rack up top and a windshield plastered with Colorado State Parks passes, this truck showed all those Subarus a thing or two about utility.

1989 Mitsubishi Montero in Denver junkyard, engine - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe newest of those CSP passes expired in 2013, though, so I suspect the once-reliable Astron 2.6-liter four-banger might have crapped out that year and the ol’ Mitsu spent eight years awaiting repairs that never happened.

1989 Mitsubishi Montero in Denver junkyard, inclinometer - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSomeone pried open the super-cool dash-top gauge cluster but then left the inclinometer behind. I’ve already got several of these things in my hoard of parts for future junkyard boomboxes, so I didn’t buy this one. The Montero altimeter, on the other hand…

1989 Mitsubishi Montero in Denver junkyard, radio - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWith air conditioning and this very nice (for 1989) cassette deck, this truck was fairly luxurious for its time.

1989 Mitsubishi Montero in Denver junkyard, grille - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsNext stop: The Crusher!

Mitsubishi sold these trucks all over the world (they were especially popular in the Middle East), but nearly all the best Montero TV ads were released in Japan.

The four-door Montero turned house cats into mountain lions.

Just the thing for driving from San Francisco to Utah.

The South Korean version was known as the Hyundai Galloper, and its television commercials were gratifyingly heroic.

Go ahead, beat on your Galloper! It won’t care.

For links to more than 2,100 additional Junkyard Finds, please visit The Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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9 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1989 Mitsubishi Montero...”

  • avatar

    I’m surprised the roof rack is still on there; if nothing else, that should have some value. I wonder why the owner didn’t take it themselves for easy resale.

  • avatar

    Even the engine compartment is clean. Not sure about rebuilding a 2.6 but looks like lots of room to throw a 3800 in there.

  • avatar

    Loved these back in the day, came really close to buying one, but ended up with a Cherokee Laredo and never looked back

  • avatar

    Didn’t these have a weak point (was it the transfer case?) that had a $4k or so repair cost that put a lot of these into the junkyard….

  • avatar

    Mitsu should put inclinometers in each of their new crossovers (Eclipse Cross, Outlander, etc.). At least in the “off-road” trims (do they even have those now?) Would be a cool nod to the past.

  • avatar

    I got to drive these on two different occasions. My dad was a novelty-seeking, fwd-thinking kinda guy. He traded his Lincoln Town Car (business car) for a 4-door Isuzu Trooper and a 2-door Mitsubishi Montero. We called them the Trooper and the Montero: We didn’t have the term “SUV” yet! Cheap and plasticky, but MAN that Trooper could haul a load!

    I remember cruising through the back roads at pretty high speeds in the Montero. The air-strut seat was absorbing all sorts of bumping–my g/f was pretty mad b/c the passenger seat didn’t have such a thing. (The Montero met its demise when, for some reason, it caught on fire–and my dad learned that his fire extinguisher was empty).

    Then next time I drove one was just after the Gulf War. In addition to our Humvees, we had a Montero and a Jeep (Cherokee? Four door; six cylinder–reasonably powerful). I was the SpecOps designated driver (meaning I didn’t get to drink). If we were headed into town, the Jeep was best–good for intimidating other drivers and squirting through the rotaries (roundabouts, whatever).

    The Montero was better for traveling around the various positions (stations, outposts, encampments, whatever). However, I learned its limitations when trying to keep up with the Humvees out across the “wild” desert. Rotten with rocks, sand, holes, etc. No way could I keep up with those monster-wheeled, wicked heavy machines: They’d blast across the terrain, bouncing the occupants off the ceiling but doing *nothing* to the vehicle. As for the Montero, I thought I was going to bust either an axle or my own head. The tires were suddenly *very* tiny… Good thing GPS was becoming a thing or I’d never have caught up.

    Good times!

  • avatar
    The Comedian

    “Inclinometer accurate only when completely stopped.”

    Yeah, that won’t be a problem ever again.

  • avatar

    In 1990s Russia it was popular among lower tier “New Russians”. Right Slavuta?

  • avatar
    the duke

    Corey, I know you said no two door SUVs, no Nissan VQ V6, and no soft tops. But I’m going to recommend something with all three anyway – the Murano Cross Cabriolet. They can be had with less than 50,000 miles at or below your price range. When was the last time you saw one? The are just so off the wall crazy it would be a great impractical second car. I know you like off beat odd-ball vehicles and they don’t get more off-beat or oddball than this. But unlike a Maserati GranSport these are cheap to maintain.

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