Pitchblack Rally Recce Raider Build


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Figured I might as well start up a build thread here (which I'm carbon-copying over on Grassroots Motorsports, where I also spend a lot of time). Anyhow, I was recently looking for a new project to work on, as I recently finished my $1000 Porsche 924S rebuild and don't have much going on with my stage rally car (1985 BMW 318 w/M50 swap). I tinker here and there with my Sequioa (tow rig/rally service vehicle) but with no real overlanding anywhere near here I don't want to go too crazy on it, since I need it to tow trailers and stuff.

Anyhow, got to thinking it's time for a new project vehicle. Space is always an issue for me, as those of you who follow my other build thread know. So the next project has to be small enough to be worked on in the garage during the winter. Back to the Raider, compared to my little Porsche 924S:

Length: 157" (Porsche: 165")
Width: 66" (Porsche: 66")
Height: 72" (Porsche: 50" - though seems less than that, really)

So, determining a Raider/SWB (short wheelbase/2-door) Montero would fit my purposes (literally), I started looking around on CL (none there anywhere) and Marketplace. A number of them popped up for $1000-5000 depending on condition, etc. The Raiders listed were generally ratty and rusty, and the Monteros were mostly nice but nice enough to be expensive and not much of a "project." My only real requirement was NO or VERY LITTLE RUST. I hate rust, I hate fixing it. I don't want to do that. That's part of what killed my XJ Cherokee project a decade ago.

Other factors:
Engine: Prefer the V6
Transmission: Would love a manual, but they seem to be few and far between, so I'm ok with an automatic.
Other: Not required, but I really wanted the off-road package, which includes a factory rear LSD.
Interior: Wanted mostly complete interior in decent shape

After talking to a number of sellers over a couple months I pretty much shelved the idea, not really finding what I wanted in my price range. Then the other day one pops up in North Carolina - a V6 automatic, complete in almost every way, in decent cosmetic shape and no signs of body or frame rust. And it has the washers, so it has the off-road package. Only thing: Engine is shot. The engine/trans are actually out of the vehicle and stashed in the trunk (apparently a spun bearing). Something to deal with later, this is going to be a long project.

So, I grab the Sequioa and trailer, and boogie 330 miles south to the Atlantic shoreline, being assured he will not sell it while I'm on the way. Long story short, loading it sucked without a winch (I keep meaning to get one), but it was as-expected and i handed over a small amount of cash (3 digits) and got it loaded up.

Got it home and did some cleanup. No rust, transmission sitting in the back as well as the remains of a very rusty, disassembled engine that sat on the ground through a saltwater flood during a hurricane after the owner pulled it due to a spun bearing. Total loss...or at least more work than I'm willing to do on it. I'll find another one.

But otherwise, clean up the truck and it's in pretty nice shape and almost totally complete otherwise.

Tucked away in the garage so I can slowly start cleaning things up, searching for drivetrain options, etc.

The goal? Not sure yet, just wanted something different. Well aware of the Pajero's Dakar history, so that may be the direction I go to some degree. Not much for trails or overland near here (a few hours away), but would love to set this thing up to do reconnaissance runs for our stage rally team and to do some general adventure trips. Something like "rally raid" setup, so to say. IDK, we'll see where the project goes. I change my mind a lot when it comes to automotive projects, so what I think today I may totally change a year from now.

My other mostly-complete but always ongoing projects, for anyone who cares. As you can see, I like to get things dirty......

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Well-known member
So, for the near future it's mostly gonna be about cleaning stuff up. I want to paint the entire frame (which has very little rust), so will do that section by section, then start on brakes and suspension, though with 240k on the odometer, seems this thing was pretty well-maintained.

Pulled the rear bumper and sanded/painted the rear frame/chassis and related parts.

Pulled the gas tank skid and transmission crossmember to clean them up. A bit of surface rust, but that's it...

And started on the right rear with chassis cleanup and painting...

And that's where I'm at right now. So, hope you follow along and lend your advice, since I don't know all that much about these trucks just yet (but I'm reading a lot). A lot different in every way from the projects I'm used to, which are almost all 70s-80s European cars....



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None of the pictures loaded or displayed for me, but I am very intrigued and SUBSCRIBED to this Thread!


Expedition Leader
I suspect you've exceeded the allowable bandwidth limitations from Imagur. No, I could not view the photos on GrassRoots either.


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hmm, that's interesting. Imgur supposedly eliminated its bandwidth limits 4 or 5 years ago. I just checked with some friends and they say they can see pics in both of these threads...



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Spent some time today cleaning up the transmission crossmember and the transmission linkage attached to it. Overall it's all in pretty good shape but figured with it just sitting there, might as well scrub it and paint everything.

I disassembled the linkage and cleaned up the bushings and repacked the grease boot on the end that attaches to the crossmember. So I have a quick question: At the crossmember end, there is a grease boot with two springs inside of it, an a washer and circlip securing it at the end. All seems to work fine but this was pretty gunked up. Looking at the "lip" on the crossmember section it goes through, I'm thinking there's supposed to be some kind of rubber "cap" on it or something to keep grease from getting out and grime getting in. Can anyone confirm?

After cleaning it all up figured i'd bolt it up loosely just to get it out of the way. Oddly, none of my M12 1.5 or 1.75 bolts would work. Seems it uses M12 1.25 or some other fine thread. So I had to go hunting for the OEM bolts. The p/o, when the engine was removed, basically dumped all nuts and bolts into a coffee can, which was full of rusty stuff, greasy stuff, and leaves (?). So I dug through there and found the right bolts for the crossmember (well, 5 of the 8 I needed) and got it bolted up

SO here's what was in the coffee can:

Decided to throw them in my ultrasonic washer (yeah, Harbor Freight!) and clean up all that stuff, not knowing what I'll need or not going forward with this project. Since I didn't take all this stuff apart, i literally have no idea where any of these bolts go, so will have to figure that out.

Interestingly, almost all the bolts are marked on the head with either a number or a symbol. Most of them are numbered 4, 7, or 10 (with an 8, a 9, and a few with a circular symbol, with or without a vertical line inside it). The markings do not correspond to size, but seem to be some kind of "parts group." Did Mitsubishi specifically mark all its bolts as to what part of the car they go to? Anyone here have a "key" to the bolt numbering that could help me figure out where they go? Looking at sizes I'm guessing the "7" group may have to do with the engine/transmission/bellhousing, since they look to be that general size, but who knows. Any assistance would be much appreciated. The German cars I usually work on certainly have nothing like this.



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Got off my ass into the cold garage tonight and after cleaning up, wanted to check out a few things. First of all, needed to get the transmission out of the back and onto a dolly. This isn't a big deal with most of my cars - lifting up most manual transmission isn't too bad - but man, this slushbox is heavy, especially with the TC on it. So after a bit of creative positioning of my highest-lift floor jack I managed to wrangle it out, onto the jack, and down to the floor, with tenuous balancing in full effect....

Took a bit of time looking things over. The shifter and transfer mechanisms seem to work fine. Stuck the rear driveshaft on and moved things around and the action feels smooth, no odd noises, etc. The PO obviously had an engine issue and had been driving the truck, so I don't have any reason to think the transmission is bad, frankly, so I'm not too worried about it. In the near future I'll replace all the input and output seals, open the fluid pan and change/clean the screen and re-seal that, and make/get some new gaskets for a couple of the transfer case orifices. I also will check the resistance of all the sensors on the transfer case. One of them the wires are broken off (I'm betting someone forgot to unclip the sensor when dropping the transmission) so will fix that up as well. Other than that, will clean stuff up.

I also noticed the input end of the rear driveshaft, where it goes over the splined output on the transmission, is not in very great shape on the outer surface.....a good deal of rust on there. I'll have to see how well I can clean this up because I need a smooth surface for the rear seal to....seal. The driveshafts clearly sat outside with the engine, so while the u-joints feel fine, the flanges are pretty rusty on the polished surfaces especially, which is annoying.

The one issue I am having is the lower transmission mount. The rear mount is pretty widely available, but I can't seem to find this big thing ANYWHERE online. (plenty easy to find the 4-cylinder part though, for some reason..) The metal components are in good shape, but the two big rubber blocks are pretty mushy and gone. I may just have to see about finding something reasonable to replace them, or perhaps I'll just form some new ones out of low-stiffness urethane. We'll see.....

Otherwise, cleaned a bunch of parts, mostly mounts and other things related to the transmission, which weren't terribly dirty but I like things to be clean.

With the transmission out, I pulled up the carpet (the floor underneath is in excellent condition, for what it's worth) to open up the fuel tank. Mostly just wanted to see how much fuel is in the tank.

So looks like about half a tank, which is good. The tank does look to have a bit of rust inside, hard to tell though. Once I drain it and drop it I'll plan to have it cleaned out and coated, since you can't exactly buy new tanks for these things.

I will say, one nice thing about the project car being just a giant box, is that it's way more useful than my other project cars for storing stuff out of the way in the garage. My new OMP race seat for the rally car sits nicely in the back seat, lol...



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So I'm going to apologize in advance, because in most of my automotive builds, the threads start pretty slow as I take stuff apart, clean stuff, paint stuff, etc. Once that's done I start getting into some of the more fun stuff. But that's a while away on this thing, so I hope you'll humor me as I document the more mundane things (mostly for my own reference/motivation, not that you guys really care about things I painted, lol).

Anyhow, yesterday I "drove" teh car for the first time. Well, kind of. I wanted to turn it around so I just jumped in and let it coast down the driveway and made a turn into the cul-de-sac. Then a neighbor helped me push it back up the driveway facing the other direction. This will make it easier to work on the stuff I want to work on this winter - i.e the front of the car and engine bay.

The bumper has a few bent areas like someone tried to drag the car with a chain wrapped around it (must have missed the giant tow hook right below). Hopefully I can straighten that out....

Anyhow, last night I took apart much of the front of the car. Bumper off, along with the hood latch, center brace pieces, the auxiliary electric fan (took a while to figure out where the plugs were in the wiring!), and some other things in the front/middle of the car. Spent some time cleaning stuff in the sink and will paint stuff when I get a chance.

Probably the rustiest part of the truck, which is just surface rust really.

I did find one little "actual rust" area, so there you go, up on the front valence. Even that isn't very bad.

I also noticed a small area on the front of the passenger-side frame just under the core support that looks like someone welded a reinforcement plate there or something. This is where the steering linkage attaches (on the other side) so I wonder if the metal was fatiguing or cracking or something. Only way I even noticed it was that whoever did it left some weld splatter..Either way, seems fine and can't really be seen with the front end stuff together...

So, got out the wire wheel, cleaned up, and painted it all. So, it looks nicer.

non-sequitur, saw this interesting rig today, in a parking lot. Pretty neat little setup.



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Got a warm-ish day, so cleaned up the bumper, pulled the swaybar and cleaned it up, and did some painting. I also ordered pretty much everything I need to refresh the front end, other than shocks....so a bunch of bushings, balljoints, and all of the steering linkage pieces that have balljoints. I'll do a brake system order at some point (boy, that stuff is cheap), but I want to pull the calipers and see if I should rebuild them or get some new ones.

Photo of the front suspension for posterity and my own future reference. The balljoints and bushings feel ok, but they look pretty old to me and suspension and brakes are my #1 thing to be in top condition, so will just replace everything.



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Tonight tore into the front suspension. Nothing too complicated here though I had a brain fart and for some reason popped the upper balljoint before I took the CV axle out, so that made things more difficult than it needed to be and tore the diff oil seal (was gonna replace anyhow, so not too worried about that). Also sheared off one of the bumpstop bolts, so I'll have to drill that out of the UCA and re-tap it. Piece of cake.

Definitely will get all-new brake stuff (lines, rotors, and i'll rebuild the calipers). I know some guys upgrade to the Gen2 2-pots - that's something I'll think about in the future when I get the car on the road. The Gen1 stuff is so cheap, no reason to not just stick with it for the moment.

On the upside, the CV axle feels good, smooth movement, no discernable play, and the boots seem to be in good shape, so I don't plan to mess with the axle at all at this point.

While it's all apart, everything will get cleaned up and painted, of course.



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And stuff being taken apart, cleaned, etc. I pulled the big rolling bench back into the garage (it usually lives in the back of the house since it's so big), beats clogging up my main benches with big suspension parts, and provides some storage.

Pressed out the balljoint from the UCA. Came out nice and easy...

Then drilled out and cleaned the threads on the bumpstop bolt that I snapped off when removing...

Getting some painting, cleaning, etc done.

Should have some new stuff coming in over the next week or so. I think I'll pull the passenger side stuff too, and then the front diff/axle assembly and clean it all up while it's accessible....