After much research, reading, and this thread
I purchased an 2001 mitsubishi montero sport XS, with 110,000 miles on it. The vehicle is very clean, and seems to be well maintained, we purchased it from the original owners who clearly took pride in their vehicles performance and appearance. They were a pleasure to conduct buisness with and gave me much confidence in the montero after spending time with the previous owner, who was quite the accomplished mechanic and certainly had an eye towards detail.
This will be a dual purpose vehicle for my growing family, functioning as my wifes daily driver and our weekend camping, wheeling and adventure vehicle. It must remain somewhat fuel efficient, comfortable and above all else reliable. All modifications will be made with those requirements in mind.
Plans are as follows, in no particular order:
Maintenance: keep it reliable and working like it should, simple enough.
Wheels/Tires: a 265/75/16 all terrain variety tire seems like it would work well for us. I am also considering finding some 15 inch rims and fitting some 31 or 32 inch tires, and keeping the stock setup for daily driver/road only trip duties. The LTX michelins that its currently clad with would be well suited to the long road trips, but not much else.
Armor: I haven't yet made the determination whether or not the stock skid plating will be adequate for us. Time and some hands on experience will tell. The running boards will be removed in favor of some sturdy welded on rocker guards, even on milder trails i have found these to be a necessity. Bumpers will present a challenge for me, as i do not yet have a proper tube bender. Plans call for a rear bumper with removable tire carrier, recovery points, and maybe some better lighting. The front bumper would be much the same; protection, recovery, and tie in for a front skid. Bumpers are a long way off.
Drivetrain: intial investigations revealed what seemed to be a beefy drivetrain. I was quite please to see a large drop out third member rear axle, disc breaks all the way around, and a sizeable transmission. Current axle gears are factory 4.9:1, with open differentials. Plans call for a rear locker, its looking as though my options are an ARB, or fit a factory mitsu locker. I have found one locally but its from a 94 SR, which from my research should have 4.6:1 gears. Other than the locker, my plans are maintenance and repairs as required.
Suspension: I understand that the torsion bar front end isn't exactly known for having gobs of travel, im willing to deal with that. I would like to investigate some sort of sway bar disconnects to help extract what little travel is there. Currently all suspension is stock, with somewhat fresh bilstein shocks. The previous owner gave me some gabriel air adjuster shocks that he had installed when his scooter was on a hitch mounted carrier, i have no plans of installing them unless i really need them. Ideally some high rate torsion bars, OME medium duty coils, along with some quality shocks would find their way underneath the rig.
Interior: time will really dictate what we need, right off the bat i know we will need some sort of a mat for the cargo area to keep the carpet in decent shape. Proper floor mats, rubber and able to hold some mud/dirt/liquids are a must. The previous owners used seat covers since day one, i plan to re-install them. I was a little dissapointed to see that with the rear seats folded, the cargo area isn't perfectly flat. I had the idea to create a sort of false floor, to make a nice flat area, and gain storage at the same time. I have to measure to see just how much of a ridge i have, to see if the gain would be worth the time and effort.
Exterior: Lighting upgrades are in the works, no confirmed details yet. I am contemplating removing the factory fender flares and mud flaps. Both are very rigid, i fear i will rip off the factory mud flaps in time. It would be nice to have some rubber mud flaps that would protect the body but be able to be pushed out of the way by the offending obstacle. The factory flares and flaps are molded together and certainly look quite attractive but might not suit our uses. The montero has two factory roof rails, but no cross bars yet. A few cross bars and a simple platform thats easily removable would be quite handy.
-Will a 94 SR third member bolt into my 01 Sport? I looked briefly and they seemed to be the same. i would obviously have to do something about the gears.
-Do 15 inch rims, with the proper backspacing, fit my montero? I know the pattern is 6 on 5.5, but i dont know the backspacing.
-For a roof rack, what feet have others used to fit a thule, yakima or similar roof bars to the factory rack rails?
Thats what i have thought of so far, but i have owned the montero for less than 36 hours, so i expect plans to change with time and experience with the vehicle. All modifications will be done on a pretty tight budget, being a fabricator prior to the coast guard helps immensely with that. I usually prefer to build rather than buy. I hope to learn about mitsu's (this is my first) and if i really like the thing it just might hang around for a while. I have a tendancy to buy and sell vehicles pretty frequently....
Stay tuned, i'll update as often as i can.