[ 77 ] Fezzik and I met for the first time seven years ago this week. I have a calendar event set to remind me each year, but I feel like I haven’t always celebrated this automotive anniversary. In any case, a lot has changed since March 29th, 2015. Fezzik the 1998 Mitsubishi Montero has evolved. So has Brian the gearhead behind the project. (That’s me.)
I started writing this a week ago.
I’m finding it hard to get the writing done these days. Work’s busy—and who cares? Much like Phil said recently—I care. And that’s the only reason to do this sort of thing. He’s right. And so, having now scrapped well over 2,000 rambling words inspired by how far my daily driver and I have come in the last seven years, I’m just going to put it out there as simply as I can.
Buy the best one you can afford.
Get it back to 100% with OE parts.
Only install quality, brand name mods.
No one is an island. (You’s ain’t special.)
My online history is littered with bitching and moaning about things that weren’t going the way I wanted. Turning your own wrenches is powerful stuff. It proves that you have the ability to make your life better with your own two hands in crazy meaningful ways. It’s intoxicating. It’s also a fast-track to hubris and social media temper tantrums.
Being an original owner gearhead spoiled me.
It’s easy to wave the Maintenance Before Mods flag when your only taste of maintenance has been consumables and the odd check engine light because you’re the original owner. It’s the opposite of that when your new daily driver spent a year in a field with a blown head gasket, was somebody’s autox/recce slag, or just wouldn’t pass smog for some sketchy mofo in LA. And yet, the heart wants what the heart wants, ya know?
This time things will be different.
Big picture and long story short: I bought a $2500 Mitsubishi Montero sight-unseen off Craigslist in LA. I immediately put another $2500 into it in the form of OME struts and springs, a K&N drop-in, and generic ball joints. Old habits die hard. And hubris also goes by if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it. In spite of the previous owner’s desperate business, Fezzik was a very solid daily driver that got me through some of the most challenging years of my life.
Seven years in, I’m so close to finishing Fezzik I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t plan on or want to replace the entire cooling system, the power steering pump and lines, the entire freaking engine—but I’m glad I did. Mods are great. I love mods. Don’t get me wrong, but just like how fit, healthy people will tell you “Nothing tastes as good as fit feels,” no mod performs better than 100%.
I think I’ve got most of the good mods these days. All the ADD goodies, the 4.90 gears, the “Aussie Crawler Gears”, and so many LEDs. You know what the most remarkable mods have been to Fezzik? They weren’t mods at all. I just replaced all the worn out steering and suspension components in the front end. Oh yeah, and Eric was right about the Noico. (Eric is right about a lot of things.)
Today, I’m in love with my truck.
If you know the pleasures of firing up an engine you built yourself, imagine the steering, braking, and handling feeling that good every time you drive, too. The taught, perfectly weighted steering wheel. The firm, yet compliant, and highly communicative brake pedal. Having a quiet conversation with your significant other at 80mph with the AC on in a pleasantly sunny room with a view of the untamed world. The confidence of finally—finally—being able to assign new NVH experiences to anything but impending automotive doom.
The buster brought me back.
Real Talk: Hard lessons learned
All my daily driven project vehicles have taught me important life lessons. Most of them revolve around better understanding myself and my own needs. I built an all-motor DSM I never raced. I started building a GVR4 I would never rally. With Fezzik, I bought the best Montero for rock crawling and overlanding. Turns out I’m not really interested in those things, either.
Those of us who turn our own wrenches—whether by choice or necessity, it doesn’t matter—reach a point where we know we can do anything car-related. Given enough time and money, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. You layer that level of confidence on top of vanity and peer pressure and, next thing you know, you’re asking yourself why everything’s so damned hard all the time.
Fezzik doesn’t have rock sliders or 35-inch tires or a flat roof rack with tent. We don’t have a winch. We don’t have a fridge/freezer. We have an agreement. I will see to it Fezzik is properly maintained for the rest of our time together. He’ll see to it we can get ourselves out of any trouble I would ever get us into—because he’s overbuilt for anything I’m likely to ever throw at him.
There are no rocks where we’re going. Only mud, snow, and salt. I’ve bought all the mods I’m gonna buy for this truck. At least for the foreseeable future, anyway. From here on out, preserving the amazing machine I’ve built is the Prime Directive. If I can do it myself, I will. If I don’t want to do it myself, I won’t be putting things off until I change my mind. I’ll pay to have it done.
7 years later: I love Fezzik more than ever.
Can’t wait to go for the next drive.
This automotive success story was made possible by all the excellent individuals who have contributed to the journey. You know who you are. I hope you know how much I appreciate your help. Truly, the best part of any amazing machine are the amazing people who come together to help you make things amazing.
Here’s to another year with Fezzik.