Since the Garbage Montero appeared to run decently and the guy I was buying it from had been driving it around for the last month, I figured I’d just drive it the hour and a half home. No big deal right?
First off, it had gigantic “racing slick” mud tires. How these larger but bald mud tires helped the previous owner go wheeling, I will never know. There was no way I was driving it 75 miles home on those things. That Saturday night after looking at the truck, I went back to Craigslist to search for some used wheels and tires. Luckily the Montero uses the very common 6 x 5.5 standard or 6 x 139.7 metric bolt pattern. Which means wheels from Toyotas, Nissans and GM trucks will fit. I searched and searched and finally gave up and went to bed. Sunday morning rolled around and I picked up my search again. Finally I found what I was looking for and they where perfect. A set of Montero sport wheels with used tires off a truck the seller junked. Awesome; I texted him, he called me back an hour later.
The seller told me, “Yeah they’re pretty decent tires, actually I’ve got all five off the truck”
I said “Alright then, for $$$ you’ve got yourself a deal”. The Garbage Montero is missing the spare so that worked out great. A two hour round trip south and the 5 wheels and tires where in my possession. As a bonus, the seller had a full set of factory lug nuts and 2 center caps he threw in with the deal. I love it when a plan comes together.
Two days later I get back in touch with the seller of the Garbage Montero and let him know @tsiss350 and I will be up to get the truck by 8pm. We then packed everything you’d need for a wheel swap, jack, tire iron, electric impact, torque wrench, factory lug nuts, gloves and some extra tools for other stuff that could come up. I also grabbed a gas can after I nearly forget it, something tells me this truck will be on “E”. Lucky for us, it’s June in New England, which means daylight till at least 8:30 pm. Unlucky for us, it’s June in New England which means night time temps in the 80s with 70% humidity.
We showed up, and I hand the seller the remaining amount of cash. No turning back now. The seller cleaned most, but not all the trash out, we grabbed every extra part the seller has, making sure to grab the removed skid plates. I jacked the the truck up and like a two man pit crew @tsiss350 and I start swapping tires. It is unbearably humid, daylight is quickly disappearing, we are in the woods and mosquitos are out in force. Meanwhile, whiskey tango campground patrons gathered to watch the spectacle of these two city boys change tires like it’s a caution flag with ten laps to go at NHMS. Humble brag, it ended up being really impressive, we must have had those tires and wheels swapped and the old wheels loaded in the truck in under 15 mins . At this point I’m pouring sweat, my blood sugar has dropped since we skipped dinner, I just want to get the fuck out of there. The seller hands me the keys, I go to fire up the truck and it won’t start.
“Oh sometimes you have to jiggle the shifter” said the seller, Great I think to myself, maybe don’t shut this thing off on the way home. This was bad idea, a dumb idea, hell we’ll get to the main road and if it quits, I’ll have it towed I guess. I flip on the lights, step on the brakes and @tsiss350 does a quick check of them all to make sure they work. The lights are good and we’re ready to go. I look at the fuel gauge, it’s on “E”, I knew it would. We grabbed the gas can and dumped a few gallons in, it doesn’t register much on the gauge. Fuck it, I think to myself.
“Let’s go, I’ll baby it to the rest stop on the highway”, I said to @tsiss350.
I pumped the brake pedal a few times, it had good pressure, no surprises there. Then I noticed on the dash, the brake light is on. I checked the
e-brake, it’s down, must be low on fluid. I didn’t bring any brake fluid, I put the shifter into drive anyway, this is happening. @tsiss350 followed closely from behind as we crept down the dirt road away from the camp, this is the first time I’ve driven the Montero. The truck shifted lazily from first to 2? The overdrive button was in the off position, odd, but the seller only drove around town he said. I heard the knocking over bumps the seller described, I guess the ratchet strap on the t/case wasn’t doing much, but so far the Montero stopped, turned and went OK.
I eased the Montero onto the highway. I slowly wound it up to 65, it tracked decently straight. Considering I was running junkyard tires well past prime and who knows when the last alignment was done, it pleased me. Lane changes sucked without that driver’s side mirror, but since it was summertime and I had the windows down. I just did the full Ace Ventura out the window blind spot check when needed.
This truck was disgusting inside, it smelled, everything was sticky with nicotine. I felt disgusting, I was covered in dried sweat and my back felt itchy against the seat. It was night time now and the windshield was filthy and hard to see out of. I accelerated a little harder to see what the Montero had and the auto tragic kicked down into what felt like neutral, the revs screamed out of control as the engine raced to redline. With the exhaust leak it sounded like it wanted to explode. I quickly let off and eased back into the gas pedal, the transmission found a gear and I keep trucking at a steady 65-70 mph. The fuel gauge continued to hold steady just above “E”.
After what felt like an hour, but was really probably 20 mins, we pulled into the rest stop, these are the really nice new ones NH just built on I93 outside of Concord. They’ve got the works, restaurant, state liquor store, convenience store and gas station. I immediately pulled to the pump and put $25 in the tank. I noticed while I’m filing it I can see lighting in the distance. Shit, thunder storms? I’d better check the wipers, which of course did not work, well I hope it doesn’t rain. Meanwhile @tsiss350 walked over to ask how it ran while I pumped the gas.
I said “It runs decent, transmission seems lazy and I can’t see out the windshield”.
@tsiss350 picked up the windshield squeegee thing out of the bucket next to the pump and wiped down the windshield.
“Oh shit” he says, “It’s the inside that’s really dirty” and wiped the inside with the squeegee, it makes a huge difference.
I moved the truck to the general parking area and we walked inside for a caffeinated drink and a quick something to eat, both of us were starving. It’s was late and the only thing open was the convenience store, I bought some gas station roast beef sandwiches on onion rolls for each of us; Boar’s head brand. The sandwiches actually delicious and a couple of Pure leaf iced teas were really refreshing too. We munched on the sandwiches in the parking lot and talked about the Montero and snapped a few pictures for Instagram. I got lucky, no rain that night and the rest of the drive was slow, but uneventful. Maybe I really did find an undervalued gem ?