Pajero Evolution owner evolution.

Someone in the forum said he’d like to see It’s an Amazing Machine (what we’re calling this column, by the way) introduce some JDM goodness, I started looking. When I mentioned having difficulty finding something JDM that wasn’t another Skyline, Phil offered to play along.

Now, I’ve been taking steps to limit the amount of Montero/Pajero content ‘round these parts of late. Yeah, I’ve been playing with Mitsubishis since 1996 and most of the gearheads I know personally are Mitsubishi owners, but this isn’t a Mitsubishi blog.

I told Phil I was trying to get away from the Mitsubishi stuff for a while. He replied, “Well, I have others that aren’t Pajeros. Two non-Mitsis as a matter of fact.” Doh!

The Good Angle

Phil’s had something like a dozen JDM Mitsubishis over the years. From the lowliest L200 Strada pickup to the mighty Pajero Evolution. Recently, he’s started playing with JDM Toyotas.

[tgp] Phil, how do we introduce you and frame this one?

[you] That’s a good angle to start from methinks. It’s almost always the opposite way, so this will be strange for many people. The difference is that I’m not “switching over” as many folks contend. I still have my Mitsu. As far as I’m concerned, it is the ultimate Pajero, and therefore the ultimate Mitsubishi. So why would I even need another?

LOL. Maybe that’s a little over the top, but honestly, I’ve had mostly all of them. The Evo is my favourite. That’s gotta count for something?

On JDM Land Cruisers (vs. JDM Pajeros)…

[tgp] The most important automotive opinions are those of real, actual owners. As a longtime, multiple JDM Pajero owner, could you share a little unvarnished truth about how they compare with JDM Land Cruisers with the rest of us? What do you love about one vs the other? What do you not love?

[you] For me, it was really really difficult to even consider switching. I see myself as brand loyal pretty much to a fault. It wasn’t that I didn’t think anything else was good. It’s just that I knew what I had worked, and was also good. Really, really good.

Honestly, I’d never even considered anything else seriously. UNTIL… my wife wanted to get a slightly heavier/bigger trailer. It’s still only 19 feet, and 3,000lbs, but towing in the Rockies with a turbo diesel (she had a jdm 3rd gen Pajero) is an act of watching EGTs and engine temps, for me anyway.

I like to treat my equipment gently when it comes to towing. Seen too many failures passing rigs on the highway way more equipped than mine were, because folks overworked them…

So I offhandedly mentioned to my wife that if Mitsubishi didn’t make what we required, the next best option might be a V8 Land Cruiser? I just didn’t want to move I to an F150, blah, blah, blah… I guess we both still like different? We didn’t get the 100 Series in Canada—only it’s Lexus twin, and those are few and far between.

Anyways. Apparently she didn’t share my qualms about switching, because she was completely onboard. I knew she’d always liked them, but damn… she was excited!

And as the guy who would be working on it… well, a 100 Series Land Cruiser is not the worst thing you could find in your garage now is it? I quickly realized that the difference between Mitsubishi and Toyota really weren’t much beyond badging.

This may be sacrilege to purists of one marque or the other, but I really couldn’t care less. If you drive a vehicle only for its grille symbol, then you’re probably not my kind of car guy anyway. No, I was surprised that I felt pretty comfortable pretty quickly with the big T. And since it was another JDM, I guess I needed to be?

The differences were more about the vehicle rather than “Mitsubishi versus Toyota”. I actually made the remark to Toasty [ aka: Adam Campbell, a household name in the North American Montero community — bd ] that if Mitsubishi made a bigger second gen Montero with a V8 then it would be pretty much a 100 Series. He agreed totally.

Having a giant aftermarket and parts support system wasn’t altogether terrible either.

[tgp] How did you end up with TWO JDM Land Cruisers? What does this mean for your Mitsubishi legacy?

[you] That is a very good question—one that I’m still trying to answer. LOL. Ultimately, my wife’s 100 series made me realize that I had blinders on. I really had no idea what else was out there beyond a casual glance like a non-enthusiast, when it came to anything outside Mitsu. Once Toyota was demystified, I realized it wasn’t much different.

Meanwhile, my third gen shorty [Pajero] was proving to be great in some ways, and “not quite” in others. I loved the 4M41 DI-diesel. Great engine, if not a little loud. I loved the composure of the chassis, if not a little harsh. I loved the ergonomics, if not a little cramped in the back.

See a pattern here?

Ultimately, I missed having a body-on-frame simple, lightweight platform. I also wanted a little more room in the back, while still being a shorty. I still needed fuel efficiency. Which meant diesel. All-wheel drive (center unlocked) was also a must have.

But the biggest kicker? I wanted all this with a manual transmission.

All you’re hearing is “I want, I want, I want”. But I drive a LOT, and have really fine tuned my wants/needs in the last decade, as I’ve tried many different platforms (of the Mitsu variety). Finally, it hit me that Mitsubishi didn’t make what I wanted. And if there wasn’t a Mitsubishi to fit my needs outside the PajEvo (don’t forget fuel economy), then a Land Cruiser wasn’t a bad second choice, was it?

Having said that, I’ve got possibly one of the most obscure Land Cruisers in North America. It’s a Land Cruiser Prado 90, with a diesel and 5-speed. Not available in the US yet, and before I got mine I had seen exactly ONE other in my entire life. Less common than Pajeros, partially owing to the fact that they haven’t been available as long, but also because the diesel variety isn’t super common compared to the 4 banger and v6 in Japan. And EXPENSIVE. Oh yeah. Toyota, right? But its biggest appeal was that it reminded me of the gen 2, only a little more room inside, and a little more power and efficiency from its diesel.

The JDM/Toyota community…

[tgp] How’s the gray market, JDM community doing these days? Where do y’all hangout, share tech, and whatnot?

[you] I’ve found myself in a bit of a black hole honestly. None of my mitsu contacts is much interested in my “Toyota” beyond razzing me for “selling out”. And being a newbie is something I haven’t been in vehicle circles since 1995. So… I lurk a lot, rarely ask anyone anything, and don’t even really know where I’d post if I was so inclined, since the Prado is pretty much a non-entity in North America.

I guess I’m—again—driving a vehicle most folks here don’t know ever existed, but it’s got a “T” on the grille. Don’t think it makes me any more legit. LOL. I do have a few info shares on ExPo and MUD, but get very little feedback. Not sure if it’s shock or awe. Heheh. Probably apathy since it’s not a Tacoma.

This gearhead life…

[tgp] When you think about automotive culture in general, what stands out as being the biggest issue we should be working on together? What’s your biggest concern and what should we be doing about it?

[you] I believe my biggest concern these days is fragmentation and negativity.

It’s almost a given these days that if someone posts about something that excites them, there is someone waiting to one-up them or shut them down. Elitism, brand bashing, and plain old ignorance has replaced the good-natured Ford vs Chevy ribbing that used to characterize us as car guys.

Stepping outside my vehicular comfort zone has driven this home to me even more lately. I don’t think this attitude is limited to just car circles, but I do believe we are better than that. We are on the edge of a big shift in how and what we drive. We need to be supporting each other as enthusiasts, now more than ever.

Shout outs…

[tgp] Who’s made the biggest difference in your life with cars? How so?

[you] I believe the core Mitsu community has made the biggest difference for me. The fact that I can no longer interact with them about 2/3 of my “fleet” is the biggest downside to having Toyotas.

One empathizes.

The machines bring us together. Sometimes, it seems like that sense of loyalty we feel is more loyalty to our friends and families than it is to any particular brand or OEM. Despite us all knowing several people over the years who moved onto other platforms or pursuits—and knowing we’re still good friends, if not family—it can still feel like abandonment on some levels.

For the record, Phil, we love ya. Your Mitsu street cred is above rebuke.

Looking forward to your continued JDM adventures.

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