mitsubishi/featured_mitsu/Landraider Short Cuts

Owner : Curtis Martz Evolution of the LandRaider

Vehicle: 1987 Dodge Raider
Location: USA


Flexing the rear


Stuffing the rear


Beefy LTB's!


Putting the 4.3 to task!


A look at the trucks "Lung"


showing off the "flat" paint


The MONEY shot!

Curtis Martz, February 2004

My truck started out as a freebie. A friend of a friend had it, and wanted it out of his yard. It was minus an engine, and a fuel tank. That was it. After a brief search on Ebay, I determined that it would not be profitable to part it out. The search began for a suitable replacement engine. The only problem was that I had never seen a raider before, much less an engine, so I had NO clue about any interchange, or engine options or anything. I started Internet searching, and came up with the 4x4wire's Mitsubishi Section.

I knew that I did not want to build a truck with a 4-cylinder engine due to the lack of grunt, but it seemed that my options were limited. I started taking the truck apart, and learning the ins and outs of the gen1 montero raiders. My first attempt at powering this truck was a failure. I made an attempt to build an adapter plate to put a 90-degree Chevrolet engine onto the Mitsubishi transmission. I got a prototype made, but the flexplate was going to be the dirt kicked in this fire. The Chevrolet flexplate does not fit into the KM148 transmission, and the KM149 flexplate does not fit on the Chevrolet crank. I was also going to have to machine a spacer of .5 inches to make up for the space that the adapter took up. The starter also presented a problem. All in all I abandoned the project, but still have my templates if they are ever needed.

This left me searching yet again for more engine options. After trudging through the old search function of the wire, I came across some info on putting the 2.6 turbocharged starion/conquest engines into the gen1's. The answers to this were elusive to me as a newbie, but with lots of encouragement, and help from the forum veterans, I was able to get a starion engine off of Ebay for a pretty descent price, and figure out how it all went together. The turbo 2.6 swap performed very well, and I was pretty happy with it. There is nothing like the sound of a turbo spooling up and making lots of boost.

I ran my truck this way for about a year, and got it into some pretty good trails during that time. One of the downsides to the original drivetrain was the 1.9:1 low range of the transfer case. The #2 main downside is the complication of wiring, and ducting, and piping, and just mess of wiring in general. It has been my experience that import vehicles usually had WAY overcomplicated EFI systems, and the starion was one of the first. Most everyone in the community preaches the strength of the KM148, but I have terrible luck with autos, and mine went through 1 KM148. The demise of the Turbolandraider came in early 2003, on the way to a trail ride/camping event.

I was trying to make good time to the event after lazily sleeping in, and was pushing the truck too hard on the interstate for about 2 hours. Keeping it in the boost for long durations was obviously bad for it. It overheated, and cracked the head, as all 2.6's do when pushed past the temp limit.

While the raider sat in my back yard, I started to dream up some ideas, and follow in the footsteps of Bob Shaw, and BigBlue(Kary), and make myself a Chevrolet powered raider.

The main problem with this was starting from scratch again. I had NO Chevrolet drivetrain parts. I started the search, and was able to score a used 4.3 TBI vortec engine from my local Chevrolet parts counter guy for the LOW buck price of $150. The 700r4 came from a 4wd-club member for $200, and the NP231 CHD transfer case came from Ebay for $100. Pretty cheap considering.

Now that I had all the requisite pieces and parts, I started the install.

I basically bolted the transmission to the engine, and installed the frame mounts from the full-size Chevrolet truck *backwards* and hoisted it up and into the truck. Bolted the transfer case on the transmission for mocking up purposes, and had a friend help me eyeball it into place. The old Chevrolet truck frame mounds sit right down on the raiders 2.6 frame mounts, and wedges it nicely into place. The 4.3 fit in there Really well, and it is suprisingly roomy. The engine was held in place with the crane while I marked the Chevrolet frame engine mounts with a scribe, and removed them for trimming. I reinstalled them, and lowered then engine back down, and went around and around making adjustments to ensure correct alignment, and symmetry. I used the flat TBI base of the intake manifold as a reference and the cowl of the truck as one also. After I was comfortable with the posisition of then engine, I tack welded the frame mounts in place, and removed the engine for final welding.

After the engine was reinstalled, I went to work on the crossmember. This was really easy. Only 2 new holes needed to be drilled into the existing crossmember, to make it fit the new Chevrolet tranny/transfer case mount!!

Hooking up the accessories and peripherals was the main task. Power steering was done using compression fittings, and pipe from Lowes, The stock radiator was hooked up by cutting the 90-degree bend off of the lower raider radiator, and shortening both Chevrolet hoses. The TBI harness was modified to fit into the raider, and work correctly with the engine. This is by far where I spent the most time. I soldered and heatshrinked each connector. Special attention was given to this part of the project. I really really like clean engine compartments, and messy wiring is one way to totally ruin the aesthetics of an engine bay. The Ac system has not been hooked up yet, and I built an idler bracket in place of the AC compressor. I am undecided on going OBA, or AC, but I am sure the Mississippi summers will change my mind. Driveshafts were made by cutting and welding stock Chevrolet, and Mitsubishi shafts inside one another. The front was made by cutting the slip yoke, and flange out of a stock GM driveshaft, and hammering, and welding it into a Mitsubishi tube. It will be there long-term as it is not used at highway speed, and was “workbench balanced” by me J The rear shaft will probably have to be redone, and I will have it professionally built, after I install an SYE kit in the transfer case. The stock shifter was modified to work with the 700r4, and the bugs are not totally worked out of that yet. I modified the shifter handle for an “extra” low range which would be 1st gear on the 700r4. I used simply cut a slot in the floor to make way for the transfer case shifter. No boot has been made for it yet. I had to weld a custom stick onto the shifter body. Factory gauges were retained using new Mitsubishi sender with adapters to BST into the NPT GM engine. 2 Electric fans are used on a custom shroud I built. They both pull PLENTY of air to cool the motor. A body lift must be performed to do this swap for transmission/transfer case tunnel clearance. IF not, serious beating and hacking will ensue.

Major thanks go out to FastEddy, JasonA, KevinC, and all my turbo buddies!! AND Kary(Big Blue) who keyed me in on a lot of particulars for this swap!


I will keep all you guys posted on my progress.

Right side view Left side view

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