Weekly Craigslist Hidden Treasure: 1989 Mitsubishi Montero

Car Culture

Who needs satellite navigation? Paper maps have worked just fine for centuries.

The Mitsubishi Montero has not been sold in the US since 2006, although Mitsubishi told us earlier this year that may soon change. For now, Mitsubishi only sells a few crossovers and a sedan in America. But there was a time when the Japanese automaker was synonymous with off-roading thanks to one particular vehicle. That SUV was the Pajero, sold as the Montero stateside.

Revealed in 1981, the first generation Pajero/Montero was originally a short wheelbase two-door SUV with V6 power (a long-wheelbase with four doors arrived in 1983). It even had a metal or canvas top. The first generation Pajero wasn’t exactly bare bones, but it was pretty close. However, it was a very usable daily driver that provided enough comfort. Compared to a Jeep CJ7, for example, it was damn near luxurious.

Along with its top of the range 3.0-liter V6, the first Pajeros could also be had with a choice of diesel engines, both naturally aspirated and turbocharged. But what the Pajero is really most famous for is its success in the grueling Dakar Rally, with modified Pajeros winning the endurance race an impressive 12 times. Not everyone may remember this but the first gen Pajero was also sold in the US as the Dodge Raider until 1989.

The Pajero was redesigned for 1991 and while its boxy shape remained, the SUV’s progression to a more refined vehicle was clearly advancing. By the time the subsequent third and four generation models arrived, in 1999 and 2006, respectively, the Pajero had become a fully-fledged premium SUV while still maintaining its impressive off-road credentials.

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Unfortunately, the current fourth-gen model never made it to America, but there are still plenty of used Pajeros out there for those not interested in a vintage Jeep, Toyota Land Cruiser, or Ford Bronco, to name a few examples. Take this first generation Pajero up for sale on Craigslist San Francisco, for example.

This accident-free 1989 model has racked up almost 98,000 original miles, not bad considering its age. The seller claims the body is straight and the original paint has only a few minor dings. The interior? Also in fantastic shape. Its 3.0-liter V6 still runs smooth and the five-speed manual transmission has a new clutch. Some of its original factory options include the tow package, stereo with cassette player (hey, it was the 80s) and an AM/FM radio. There are also inclinometer, oil pressure, and voltmeter gauges. The seller has performed a few welcomed upgrades, such as LED/Xenon headlights (the originals are included in the sale), LED off-road lamps, roof rack, custom fender flares, new custom floor mats, and matching seat pads.

It’s clear that this short-wheelbase Pajero/Montero has been very well cared for and whoever becomes its next guardian is in for a treat. Speaking of which, what’s the asking price? A very reasonable $11,500. Who needs a modern and ridiculously expensive SUV (there are too many examples to list) equipped with fancy schmancy things like navigation, leather upholstery, and wireless charging for smartphones. No, the whole point of off-roading is to get away from it all. Use a paper map. This 1989 Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero two-door has it all for the true 4x4 off-road enthusiast. Try not to have too much fun.

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