WaTaBi Montero Guy’s Build Journey

The strangest thing happened to me the other day while watching Animal Planet. It was as if David Attenborough himself reached into my inner spirit animal’s heart and spoke this awesome reality into existence…I AM AN OVERLANDER. I can’t believe I never realized it before that day. I mean, the signs were everywhere on YouTube and Instagram, not to mention that I was about to get tons of dough with my tax return. It couldn’t all be a coincidence that I would see Jeeps and stuff like everyday. The universe was trying to tell me something, and I was finally listening.

Right then another thought dawned on me. “If I’m going to be the next Jacques Cousteau of my local state park campgrounds, I need a sweet-looking safari mobile to take pictures of!” The thrill of this self-realization sent me straight to the internet to find some inspiration for my super sweet rig. And guess what I found! Land-freakin’-Rover, baby! Best 4×4 ever. All the O.G. overlanders like Jeremy Clarkson and Bear Grylls knew what was up, and that’s why they didn’t leave home without it.

I was just about to hit the “Buy Now” button on this mint Discovery (the guy selling it said it started right up the last time he ran it two years ago) when my mom came down the basement stairs with some cookies. She slammed them janks to the ground and said, ”What the heck are you doing!? You’re a freaking American hero. Not some plucky German, content to drive Hitler’s 4×4 of the people.”

And you know what? She was right.

It was time to get serious about this and buy something with the key American automotive virtues of reliability and patriotism. And guess what? Nothing screams the American spirit of rebellious nonconformity quite like the Toyota Land Cruiser. ‘Merica! boyyyy…just like Amelia Earhart used to say. I was just about to call this guy about his good-as-new 650,000 mile 80-series when my girlfriend texts me saying, “You can’t spend money on me, but you can afford a $20K truck!? wth!?!?” Just kidding. Surprisingly, I don’t have a girlfriend. And good thing too, cuz that means I get to spend my $800 tax return however I want. YOLO…as Dave Ramsey would say.

So with my $800 chunk of potential I hit up the pages of AutoTrader for those hidden barn finds. Strange month I guess, because the only four-wheel drives going for that cheap were some Fast and the Furious rice boxes called Monteros. Crap. Everybody knows that the Koreans can’t build a car to save their lives.

I hate to admit it, but I cried a little bit. I’d finally discovered my life’s calling after 36 years of aimless wandering only to run into an aristocratic pay wall put in place by the 1% and their Hummer H2s. Sons of bitches… After eating of few of my mom’s cookies I slowly collected my emotions. I couldn’t just give up. Just think if Ferdinand Magellan had given up when he got lost in the Pacific Ocean. He would have never discovered the Philippines. I’ve never been there myself, but I hear the food is excellent. There’s a winner for you. A real overlander. I decided to see what I could learn about that wanker-mobile I’d seen in the catalogue.I’m a big research guy when it comes to purchases, so after spending a few minutes on Wikipedia my mind was blown. Two words…the Dakar freakin’ Relay. I figured if the Montero could win that thing, whatever it was, then it is DEFINITELY the greatest overlanding machine ever made. And aside from all the winning, that thing is huge…perfect for when, like all great overlanders, I get an insatiable urge to sleep inside it like a homeless person. Not to mention that I read somewhere on Facebook that some guy got 35mpg with it fully loaded. It was like the universe was screaming my name again.

So, with my $800 bucks in hand I bought a sight-unseen Monty 1,500 miles away off Craigslist. Best. Decision. Ever. Made. The second best decision made was when I used my credit card to buy a sweet lift kit, a snorkel, and some vintage Camel Trophy pontoon rafts that store up on the sweet safari rack I’m getting flown in from Australia. My Instagram is gonna be so epic.

And then, after joining a few Montero forums, I started to get all the sweet inside info on these beastly machines’ true potential. Looks like my 35” Firestones I got off my buddy’s wrecked Explorer will fit no problem after stacking a couple spacers. The wider track helps with stability, thus making the Montero unstoppable off road. I can’t wait to drive this thing. Look forward to seeing me…Making Overlanding Great Again!


So Stoked! My mom loaned me some money and I just flew out here to get my Montero. Thing is so sick, especially after hooking it up with these babies…

JDM for days!

Think I might do a little shake down run in the nearby desert BLM. My Montero eats desserts for breakfast. Previous owner said it leaks a little oil, but that it is a common problem with these rigs, so not to worry. He also said the timing belt was changed a few thousand miles ago, but that he lost the records. Also sound kinda like a typewriter when you… you know what? What’ev… I’ve got no worries. The thing fired right up after we jumped it. The fuel gauge and temperature gauge don’t work all the time, but he said it’s never been an issue for him. Man this thing is so SWEET! I think I’m gonna name it Cloud Stryfe after my favorite cartoon character. Dessert relay racing here I come!!!


Just getting back from the shake down run, and let me just say that I’ll never say anything bad about a Jackie Chan movie ever again. Mitsubishi clearly stole some of their four wheel drive’s secrets from the U.S. Government, because it was like driving a four wheeled version of Jason Bourne out there. I was bombing around the dunes, yanking on the Super Select lever like I was Ken Block working the handbrake. And even though none of the wheel indicator lights work in the dash I’m pretty sure that all four wheels were eating sand.

I’ll admit, I did get stuck once, but that’s only because I couldn’t find the rear locker switch (I think the previous owner moved it to make way for the row of rally light switches he installed). But I’m positive that it’s got the rear locker since it’s an LS (L is for locker, S is for supercharged). I got stuck a few more times after that, but that was only after I had that blowout. I think it was because the spare tire was a different size than the other three. No problem. I just aired down all the tires until they were the same size.

The guys who pulled me out of the sand kept saying they were so impressed with how awesome my Montero was. I could tell they were a little jealous, but dem haters gonna hate. Cloud never let me down out there. And even after we ran out of gas I easily spent the night sleeping in the back. So comfortable! After this experience I’ll never sell this thing. It’s like my family now. I think I’ll just have my mom’s AAA tow Cloud the rest of the way home. He’s earned a little break.

Photo Credit Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images


I had AAA drop Cloud off at the nearby PepBoys so they could install my lift, tires, and all the ovelanding basics. I totally could have done it myself, but I just figured it would be easier to have them do it since my mom’s HOA is a total pain. It took them like three weeks to get everything done, but that’s the price you pay for professional level service. And now that I got it back…holy crap does this thing look sweet! I’m pretty sure I’m the only guy running dual snorkels on their Montero. I can’t wait until golden hour so I can get some pics of this thing. Let’s check out the build list so far:

  • Lift Kit – DONE
  • Snorkel – DONE (twice since they drilled the wrong side at first)
  • Stickers – 75% DONE (still have some window space on the front windshield)
  • Wheel Spacers – DONE
  • 35” Firestones on JDM Regal Wheels – DONE
  • Oil Change – looks ok…there’s some on the stick already.
  • Double DIN Entertainment Unit with Killer Subs – SO DONE
  • 7100K HID Headlight Conversion Kit – DONE
  • First Aid Kit – YOLO
  • Fire Extinguisher – Fitted some cup holders for my coffee, which I can use to douse fires. TWOFER!
  • WINCH – not yet
  • Transmission Flush – soon
  • Coolant System Check/Flush – no need, temp gauge doesn’t work anyways
  • State Inspection – FAILED (tech said something about “Death Trap”…man, that sounds like a killer vanity plate idea)

I would have had them do those other things too while they had it but the credit card kept being declined. I’ll have to talk to mom about that.

But that will have to wait until after this weekend’s epic camping trip into the mountains. I’ll be sure to post up some pics and a trip report as soon as I get back.


So I’ve been camping with Cloud for the last two weeks. The trip was only supposed to be three days, but my mom kinda kicked us out after I tried to use her credit card to buy some camping gear from Walmart. I told her I’d pay her back once my Patreon account got rolling, but she wouldn’t listen to level reason. It’s probably for the best. She just doesn’t understand the YouTube generation. Besides, now I don’t have to listen to those Communist HOA people complain about Cloud’s oil stains in the driveway. How else am I supposed to remember if he’s run out of oil without looking for the fresh oil stains?!

Just water off my back…I’m an overlander, and I’ve just gotta be moving on. I was planning to start my Pan-American trip next summer, but I guess I’ll just get a little head start. Can you smell SPONSORSHIPS?

Kinda starting to worry about Cloud a little bit though. I think he’s taking the last couple of weeks pretty hard. Smoking like crazy these days, and it takes jumper cables to get him out of bed in the morning. Now if this were a Jeep I might be a little more worried, but let me ask you, “How many Relays has Jeep won?” That’s right, cuz they suck and Monteros are the best. Cloud is the best. Hang in there buddy.


Cloud did something strange last night when we tried leaving the Dollar General parking lot. He started up fine after the security guard gave us a jump, but about a mile down the road he started to buck really hard. There was a noise, maybe like the sound an aluminum baseball bat makes when it explodes. After that smoke started pouring out of the hood while we slowly rolled to a stop in the middle of a four-way intersection.

At first I thought it might be something wrong with the engine, but when I looked underneath and saw all the oil everywhere I knew that couldn’t be it. Looked normal. I tried restarting the car, but it wouldn’t even turn over.

I feel like I know Cloud inside and out at this point, and my educated guess is that he’s either got a bad Volume Air Flow Sensor or we’re out of gas (still haven’t fixed that dash gauge). Fingers crossed.


Photo Credit to Alessandro Prini

Well…I never thought this day would come, but I’m selling Cloud. He’s been a great, no, the best four wheel drive friend a person could ask for, but life’s demands are pulling me away. I know he’ll make the perfect overlanding platform for somebody just starting out or maybe for a desperate family with four or five kids. I’ve put a lot of work into this rig and you’ll be able to tell immediately once you lay eyes on him. I’m asking for $16,000, and considering that I’ve put about $11 grand worth of mods into it I’d say that’s a steal. My loss is your gain.

No tire kickers… I know what I’ve got! I want to be totally honest up-front, but Cloud does need a Volume Air Flow Sensor. No worries though. They’re only like $5 on eBay. Other than that he is in perfect “overlanding” shape. Did you know these cars won some kind of desert race in one of Jackie Chan’s movies? Amazing, I know.

Cloud started up strong…how should I word this…right before the last time I drove him. Need to sell quickly. Prospective buyers can meet me at the intersection of Young and Dumb…Cloud is sitting on the sidewalk.



[ Moral of the story: Don’t be like WaTaBi. He’s dumb. ]

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1 Comment

  1. I’ll give you $16 for “Cloud”, but only if you include the Tamiya model at the beginning? Oh, and that’s Canadian, so that’s twelve bucks. BTW, can you deliver?

    Great story as usual, bud. Made me laugh at the sheer absurdity (and truth) of it.

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