A Blank Canvas.. The Montero Project

I don’t want to start this off by getting into the entire story of how this came to be, but it had been a long time coming. It was sometime in January of 2019 when a few of my friends came to me saying I needed to make some big changes in the way I get off-road.. That specifically was moving on to a bigger rig.

I toyed around with the idea of Xterras, XJs, and even older 4Runnners. I needed something with more aftermarket support, reliability, and the obvious factor of being overly capable off-road. I wanted to take all of the driving skills I had gained from my time owning my lifted 2004 LL Bean Edition Subaru Outback that I so dearly loved.

So how’d it happen? Well, you see I was in Hood River test driving a 2003 Nissan Xterra. The rig was rough and obviously needed work. I got in for the test drive, and the one thing any attainable dream project should do for you didn’t happen. I didn’t feel stoked whatsoever when I got behind the wheel of a car I so badly thought I wanted.

On the way back down to the valley I called a friend to fill him in that I in fact had not purchased the vehicle. The friend happened to be Erik Dahlen, who previously in 2019 came to the realization he needed a much more capable rig for his lifestyle. Erik had ended up picking up a 1994 Mitsubishi Montero SR package prior to a trip we had both been on in March. While on the phone, Erik had mentioned that Sean, who built out his ‘94 SR was about to be starting on another Montero rebuild.

I instantly got off the phone with Erik and got in touch with Sean regarding the rig he was starting. He went over all of the details regarding his process of rebuilding the motor, detailing both interior and exterior, and even troubleshooting any other potential problems.

So what did I obviously do? I instantly told Sean I was interested in being in line for the ‘98 Montero Winter Package. The process had its hiccups, and sure took a tad longer than expected due to shipping from Japan on harder to get parts, but everything worked out!

So why’d I want the Montero so badly? Similar to the Subaru community that I was heavily involved in, the Montero community was a gold mine for knowledge, good people, and genuine community. The first fact is big for me, but let’s be real, this rig is rad! The Montero is an UNDERRATED PLATFORM.. It’s not a Toyota or a Jeep. The sought after Winter Package which I own comes with adjustable dampening suspension you can change on the fly, rear locking diffs, heated seats, and the beautiful blister fenders. The function and capability of a full size SUV as an overland build got me hooked. Heck I can seat 7, fit 33” tires with no lift, and use the swing out door for even more function while camping.

So where do I see this build going? This build is going to aim to keep reliability, quicken setup for camping, serve as my basecamp office for my photo work, and allow me to do things I love doing with the close friends who continue to be the reason why I love off-road/overlanding.

As I continue this build I plan to continue writing blog posts to update you on the progress of the Montero. Whether that be build updates, tips and tricks, trip overviews, or even general reviews on products I run, I hope you continue to follow along with this crazy dream a 21 year old kid envisioned.