Author Topic: The Ultimate Gen 1 Montero/Pajero Buyer's Guide Thread  (Read 9560 times)


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The Ultimate Gen 1 Montero/Pajero Buyer's Guide Thread
« on: May 13, 2017, 12:00:52 PM »
If you've ever owned a gen 1, help us help others find the right gen 1 for them. Tell us why you like(d) your gen 1 and why you didn't like it. What should someone know before choosing a gen 1 over a newer truck? Any deal breakers they should know about? When should they walk away from a deal? And what special equipment or mods warrant a little extra elbow grease? Pictures if you've got em, please!

I'll be using this info to build buyer's guides for the guys to help them grow their business. More business means more revenue. And that means more budget for new parts.

Thanks in advance!
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 03:57:51 PM by DR1665 »
The Driggins | 98 Pajero | 11 Juke
(Previously: 89 Pajero 2.6, 92 GVR4, 91 GVR4, 97 Talon)


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Re: The Ultimate Gen 1 Montero/Pajero Buyer's Guide Thread
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2017, 11:38:28 AM »
I can only speak to my preferences and limited experience, but here are a couple of things I'd offer as opinion on the Gen 1s shortcomings:
  • The four cylinder model with the stock carburetor is difficult to keep in tune. A Weber helps solve that problem, but may not be an option in states with strict emission regulations.
  • The V6 motor is particularly vulnerable to any decreased efficiency in cooling, which generally will result in head gasket and warping issues. Keep that radiator clean (in and out), use the right thermostat, and watch your temp.
  • The V6 will drink oil - valve guide seals are a common culprit, but you're almost certain to need a top-off between oil changes even if you have good compression and no visible leaks. Tapping valves is a good sign you're down a quart.
  • The radio is in an inconvenient location. I updated to a BT head unit with a remote to alleviate taking my eyes off the road or trail.
  • Parts are getting harder to find - there's still some NOS out there and some aftermarket to choose from, but trips to the junkyard could yield quicker results and might be the only option in some cases.
  • This is not an investment. If you're considering a Gen 1 as something that's going to be worth more than you've put into it at some point, move along. Gen 1 Montero/Pajero/Shogun enthusiasts are a miniscule, but dedicated part of the 4WD community. I don't imagine my little truck will ever be a $40K collector's item. But that's not why I got into it, anyway.

Now to the good stuff:
  • This rig, for its age, weight and powertrain, is absurdly capable. Terrific engineering.
  • Overall, really dependable - with good maintenance, I've never been left stuck, on or off the road. I've owned a Gen 1 since 2015, and a Gen 2 from 1997 to 2015.
  • Relatively inexpensive and easy to work on - there's room under the hood and with only one or two exceptions, everything is accessible.
  • For those with a love for the boxy SUV look, the Gen 1 is a standout. Rare to see another one on the road or trail, and if you do, you probably know them.
  • Remarkably affordable - the other side of the "collector's item" coin above. You can find a Gen 1 and build your suburban warrior, rugged overlander or custom rock crawler for a fraction of the cost of other makes.
  • The Montero/Pajero/Shogun community is supportive, knowledgeable and accessible. It isn't a particularly complicated truck, so someone else has almost certainly managed any issue you come across, and they're eager to share. As long as you check the FSM first.

I was leaving a school science fair with my teenage daughter yesterday, and a guy in the parking lot stopped me to ask about my Blue. Didn't get 30 seconds into the conversation and he asked me if I'd sell it - he was serious. I didn't even have to think about it - I politely declined. On the drive home, the kid told me she was relieved... she expects this to be her first car. I'm not sure if that's a reflection of shared values, or if she's just watched how much time and care I've put into this rig over the last couple of years. And I'm not sure if it matters.

1989 Montero SP
3.0L V6 SWB


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Re: The Ultimate Gen 1 Montero/Pajero Buyer's Guide Thread
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2017, 12:21:31 PM »
I got my gen 1 because I'd​ been a Mitsubishi guy for 15 years and wanted something simpler than the DSMs and GVR4s I'd had since the late 90s. The gen 1 has timeless style and rugged simplicity.

Of course, someone screwed up the ignition system and it would only start with a push button. It would always diesel a bit when shut off. And it was, generally speaking, the slowest, least powerful, least comfortable vehicle I've ever owned.

A 4-cylinder gen 1 is basically a riding lawn mower with a windshield and doors... But it will go anywhere. And I miss it terribly.

I will say, though, Rocínante came with a set of Mark's Adapter crawler gears, which really made the other shortcomings worth the trouble.
The Driggins | 98 Pajero | 11 Juke
(Previously: 89 Pajero 2.6, 92 GVR4, 91 GVR4, 97 Talon)


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Re: The Ultimate Gen 1 Montero/Pajero Buyer's Guide Thread
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2017, 01:13:59 PM »
The 2.6 SWB trucks are also very sensitive to cooling issues. Let the radiator get plugged, the fan clutch fail or the thermostat get stuck closed and you're in the market for at least a head gasket, maybe a cylinder head. Take care of cooling issues before anything else by getting the radiator rodded out (keep the stock three-row unit, aftermarket replacements aren't worth your time) and check the other components regularly.
I'm going to beg to differ regarding keeping a Mikuni carbed 2.6 running well. I love that carb, but when it goes bad, I've found replacing it with a $225 unit from Guaranteed Carburetor is THE way to go. You don't have to throw away your cleverly designed air cleaner with the fender snorkel and hot air valve for cold starts, and it won't stall on you in any position you find yourself in. It will start and run in any weather. Only the daring should attempt a rebuild; I tried but couldn't do it correctly, and I've rebuilt a couple of carbs before, successfully, just not this one.
The three valve head, with the jet valve as the third, can be problematic. The third valve introduces a swirl in the combustion chamber and was supposed to help with emissions, but it was a self-contained unit made of steel, inserted into a hole drilled into the aluminum head. This creates a differential expansion problem and can cause cracks in the top of the combustion chamber, ruining the head. Clearwater Cylinder Heads makes a new-casting replacement with either mechanical of hydraulic valve adjustment. I've used both and have zero complaints.
I prefer my 2.6 trucks in automatic, thank you. That's because I have had bad experiences with the KM-145 manual. Your mileage may vary. If you have a manual five speed in your four cylinder truck do NOT run GL-5 lube in it, it has to be GL-4 or the brass synchros will fail and you will lose that box.
The limited slip rear end works well. Look for one equipped with it by spotting the off road package with headlight squirters, a driver's side bouncy seat and an orange sticker in the driver's side door jamb or on the side of the radio console.
A Starion/Conquest 2.6l turbocharged and intercooled engine bolts right in. The 88-89 engine is most powerful and will nearly double horsepower while still remaining dependable. Seven wires connect the engine's wiring harness to the Montero's chassis harness. Several examples of this swap have been done, some dating back over 20 years ago.
As with any Mitsubishi automatic transmission, use the factory fluid. I get SP-III from a local dealer for $6/qt, and you can too, provided you can actually find a dealer these days.
The hazard switch controls more than the hazard lights. The turn signals operate through it as well. Keep an eye on that switch and don't break it.
Don't even try to cram speakers into the front dash positions where the stock speakers are at in a four cylinder, they're larger in a V-6 so you can use aftermarket, but in the early trucks, those speakers are small and could still be good enough to hook up to a CB or something equivalent, but for anything other than talk radio, they're not suitable for good sound. All Gen 1's have metal cut-outs in the doors that fir 5 1/4" speakers, but it's almost always hidden by the door panel. Take the panel off and you'll see them; it's a great place for front speakers, or at least as great as it can be when they are at ankle height. Rear speakers...without drilling, early trucks had flush mounts for 5 1/4". Later trucks have a black box that spaces the speaker out a little and accepts 6 1/2". If you want to cut metal, you can easily fit 6x9's. Pretty much anything fits in the dash, single or double DIN, with little to no mods.
The air conditioning systems are top-notch. When properly maintained, you'll probably want to keep the vents from being pointed at your hands on the wheel because they'll go numb from the cold. The evaporator case tends to get filled with dirt, dust and debris and restricts airflow, but it's not too hard to get to, open up and clean things out. Keep the drain clear in the case, too.
Simple must-have mod for me is to get a really bright LED bulb for the dome light.

John B.
AZ Crew/East Sider/Former 14th St Crew
95 SR, 35x12.5-15 on 8" steelies, 2" BL, stuff cut off, stuff welded on, lights, sound, front ARB pending
87 Raider, There's a turbo 2.6 under its hood, really
83 "Dodge" Power Ram 50, a bit lifted, way slow and gets more comments from random people than the other two put together
'95 Montero SR. Pretty much stock, Trail Gear Sliders, ADD skid plates, Stereo by Shovel, Timing maintenance by Pa_Jero


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Re: The Ultimate Gen 1 Montero/Pajero Buyer's Guide Thread
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2018, 03:54:33 PM »
I got my first 1990 LWB while I was assigned to NATO in Turkey, I have had Troopers prior and was happy to find my first Montero.  Short version if a long story, when going up steep grade, don't attempt to turn around until you get to the top, no matter why the reason.  Rolled six times side to side, landed in trees on her wheels, fired her up and drove back home.  I was sold.

Got back to the states and searched high and low, found my G1 (91 LWB) on CL in AZ, bought it off the sellers write up and a few pics, had it shipped to VA for $350 and some change and here started the next go around.  I had a CJ7, then I had twins and needed a four door, the spouse supported the sight unseen gamble purchase and the rest of the fun in transformation has been a blast.