In a captive import enterprise that began in 1979, Dodge sold Mitsubishi’s compact pickup (aka Mighty Max in North America) to compete with the likes of the Ford (Mazda) Courier and the Chevrolet (Isuzu) LUV. Badged as the Ram 50, the truck was sold through two generations, 1979-1986 and 1987-1994. By the Nineties, the second-gen was showing its age, and Dodge decided it would rather focus on its own midsize truck, the Dakota.
But there was another captive import that arrived at the very same time as the second edition of the Ram 50. Say hello to the Raider.
Dodge’s import truck story began in 1979, when the Mitsubishi Forte (or L200) arrived on North American shores, rebadged as the Dodge D-50 and Plymouth Arrow. A captive import like the Colt, the durable Dodge D-50 (later Ram 50) proved itself a solid entrant into the compact pickup truck market. What proved unpopular was the Plymouth Arrow, which did not make it past its initial 1979-1982 outing. The Ram 50 was refreshed in 1982 but was certainly due for replacement in 1987 when the second generation arrived.
While 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.
Rare Rides has touched on the first generation Pajero (Montero to North Americans) once before via the Raider, a captive import Dodge dealers could shift while the company had zero small SUV action of its own. Today’s Pajero is a second-generation version – the three-door never sold on our shores. Surprisingly, it even maintains the same color scheme as the Raider.
Strapped for cash, Mitsubishi has placed another legend on the chopping block. While the Pajero is famous globally for its stellar performance at the Dakar Rally, giving Mitsubishi more wins at the event than any other brand in history, you probably knew it as the Montero (or Dodge Raider if you’re old enough).
Sadly, you won’t be knowing it as anything but a memory soon — even if you live somewhere with a source of fresh examples. Having forecast another year of losses, Mitsubishi decided it need to continue tightening its belt. The Pajero will be taken out of production while the brand focuses on business in Asia.
Once again, we’re going to keep it in the ’90s and determine which of three imported, alternative semi-luxury SUVs should burn at the stake. Are you ready for gold badges and two-tone? Rhetorical question.
The Dodge Raider was a transparently badge-engineered first-gen Mitsubishi Montero (known as the Pajero in much of the world), available in the United States for just the 1987-89 model years. The Montero wasn’t a big seller and its Raider sibling was a rare sight even in the late 1980s. I find the more obscure Chrysler-badged Mitsubishis fascinating, so I photograph every Raider I see in the junkyard.
According to a report last week from Japan’s Nikkei, the Mitsubishi Montero — known as the Pajero in other global markets — is totally, completely, and utterly dead. Mitsubishi will instead focus on crossovers and electrification going forward.
Mitsubishi had teased “The Return of a Legend” earlier this year before the Chicago Auto Show, which many in the automotive press — including TTAC — thought might be a replacement for the flagship SUV. The automaker showed instead its Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV.
According to the Nikkei report, Mitsubishi has all but stopped development on a new Montero/Pajero. The large SUV was last redesigned for the 2006 model year, but that generation didn’t make it to the United States.
The Outlander hasn’t proved terribly popular among TTAC reviewers, but this teaser from Mitsubishi promises something more rugged.
So, out of the entire series of Junkyard Finds, which goes back three years and includes more than 600 posts, which vehicle has attracted the most readers? Strangely, it’s this 1987 Dodge Raider, which I shot in a Denver yard about a year ago. Why? Perhaps fans of the rebadged Mitsubishi Pajero are especially [s]obsessed[/s] devoted, to a degree that the rest of us (I’m sure Raider/Montero/Pajero fans have a derisive nickname for us) will never understand. Anyway, here is exactly the second Raider I’ve seen in a wrecking yard since the start of this series; I found this little gold devil during my visit to the San Francisco Bay Area last week.
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- Carlson Fan The way the truck drops in the rear and the bed/tailgate become a ramp is genius! I'd buy it just for that alone!!! It would be awesome for loading snowmobiles and garden tractors in the back. However, my trucks need to be able to regularly tow heavy loads long distance, summer & winter. Sorry folks, current battery tech. isn't even close to what it needs to be for me to think even one second that a battery truck could replace my current ICE powered truck. An EV for a DD makes sense , but for truck you need a MUCH better battery.
- Inside Looking Out For midsize sedan it is too small. It basically is a compact car.
- Stodge I test drove the 200S and damn, its suspension was so firm, I was convinced it didn't actually include suspension at all. It hurt my spine and hip, it was that firm.
- MRF 95 T-Bird If Mopar had only offered sport hatch versions of the 200 and or Dart they might have sold more of them for folks who wanted some more versatility without having to go for a small utility Compass Patriot or new at the time Renegade or Cherokee.
- El scotto I started driving in the late 70's. The cars high school kids could afford and wanted were very very worn out muscle cars. Oh Lordy those V-8's bring back some happy memories. Oh there some outliers in my crowd, a VW Bug and a Dodge Scamp with slant six; neither car would die. In 10 years their will be young people wanting very used Teslas or Dodge's with hemis. B&B, I say that if someone is excited about their EV, Hybrid, or Hemi welcome them to the club of people who like cars.