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
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.