Camel Trophy …Montero? You bet your ass!

If you know anything about the history of Land Rover, you’re well aware of the Camel Trophy. This grueling off-road adventure took place every year from 1980 until 2000, with the exception of no event during 1999. It was a battle of vehicular capability and a wonderful marketing ploy dreamed up by the Camel cigarette company and Land Rover. Anytime you think of Camel Trophy, you immediately picture a Range Rover in full send mode or with water up above its wheel wells. But did you know that Mitsubishi was involved a bit as well? Let’s meet the Camel Trophy Montero!

Over the last few years, I’ve seen the same few pictures of Camel Trophy-clad Monteros (Pajeros). One is the photo above, depicting a long-wheelbase version in the middle of a dangerous river crossing. It’s got the full livery and a bevy of off-road adventure goodies mounted on. Other pictures show a short-wheelbase version in the same livery but with fewer hardcore parts on it. The story I’ve been told is that Mitsubishi had a small hand in some runnings of the Camel Trophy in the early years. And then a small batch production version celebrating that fact was produced. I can’t find much other information than that until I decided to reach out to Mitsubishi directly for the full story.

A qualifying round leads to a production model

Here’s some information regarding the Camel Trophy involvement direct from Mitsubishi Japan:

  • ’84 Dec 12th, as a very first time for Japan, the qualifying round in Japan held. It was a preliminary competition in Japan for Camel Trophy ’85 in Borneo and was the very first time to have the Japanese participants for Camel Trophy.
  • MMC sponsored this Japan competition as the official sponsor and provided 6 units of PAJERO for the official competition cars.
  • At the ’85 Camel Trophy, Japan team got the 2nd podium with the well trained 4WD/offroad driving technique.
  • So long as we know, MMC had been sponsored 1984 (’85 CT qualifying) – 1991 (92’ CT qualifying) Japan qualifying rounds as the official sponsor, and provided numbers of PAJERO and STRADA as an official competition car.
  • ’87 Nov, MMC released the limited edition called “PAJERO Camel Special” with 150 limited units.
    • 3doors SWB based
    • CAMEL coloring (Upper: Sahara yellow/bottom: Grace silver)
    • Grill guard, sidestep
    • Defroster line combined – bronze glass
    • Black outed window moldings
    • Spare tire cover with CAMEL logo
    • Special seats and floor carpets with CAMEL logo,
    • CAMEL special ornament on the dashboard
    • Special key with CAMEL logo
    • LSD
    • Sports suspension
    • Aluminum skid plate
    • CAMEL special alloy wheels
    • Cold area specification applied
    • Auto free wheel hub
    • Large roof rack w/ CAMEL logo
    • Off-road 4WD kit (snatch block, U-shackle, soft car lope, leather glove, handy shovel, special tool bag)
    • Rear heater
    • 150 units as limited edition
    • 2.35M JPY at that time

The Montero/Pajero was (and still is) a beast

Mitsubishi supported the Camel Trophy with a Japan-based qualifying round. In 1985, the Camel Trophy competition was held in Borneo, and the footage of the event looks unreal. You have Land Rovers bouncing off muddy trails, log bridges, water up to the bottom of the steering wheel during river crossings, and even a section that required a helicopter lift to clear. And the Monteros were there as well. The Land Rovers get the glory, but I’d imagine that the Monteros were more reliable along the way. Now if we could also find a picture of one of the Mitsubishi pickup trucks in Camel livery as well, that would be something.

To commemorate its efforts, Mitsubishi sold a Camel Trophy version of the Pajero to the public. It was a short-wheelbase version, which typically got the base-level package items. But this one appears to have been equipped with some of the top-trim features such as a limited-slip differential, skid plates, and uprated suspension. And then you have the more obvious changes, such as the color, Camel Trophy decal, a special key (oh my god, I want to find one of these keys…), and more.

Let’s see the Monteros in action

Here’s a video highlighting some of the activities around a Camel Trophy event. This appears to footage from the 1989 Camel Trophy, which took on the Amazon, and is often regarded as the most insane version of the Camel Trophy ever to be held. Around the 1:45 mark in the video, you’ll spot a handful of Montero trucks being put to work. As I said, the Land Rovers get (and deserve) plenty of the glory… but we should all give some credit to the might Monteros that also came to party.

Let’s bring it back!

Thanks to Mitsubishi for sending over the information, a few pics, and pointing me towards the above video. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to figure out ways to “Camel” up my own truck a bit. And also daydream about a Camel Trophy revival. We don’t need it run by a cigarette company but I think the name still holds relevance to the event itself.

29 Comments

  1. To address something unrelated to this post… yes, we’re trying ads. We’ve been ad-free (with one very small exception) for some time now. My plan was to have this place earn revenue through sponsored content deals (one’s appropriately cultivated, relative to our audience and goals). But that’s not happening right now. Our YouTube channel is the only thing that keeps the lights on here, believe it or not – and it does so only just.

    So for now we’re going to try these ads out. If you run an ad-blocker, I’d ask you to kindly turn it off for us. But I’d never *force* you to do so. I get it. Ads suck. Thanks for understanding. I’m trying to keep them turned to the minimum in terms of invasiveness… trust me, they can get a LOT more in your face.

    1. Oh, I was thinking I managed to get a virus or something on my phone. Good to hear it’s something that’s actually helping the site out.

    2. it’s a very small inconvenience if it helps to keep things going, so cranck them up if you need to.

      anyway, thanks for the clarification

    3. Do you get paid the same whether we click the X as soon as it pops up, vs. letting the ad stay in the corner of the screen?

      And your Montero really needs a winch.

      1. I’m not sure yet, since I’ve never used this particular ad service before. I’m sure keeping it on screen can’t hurt but I don’t want to force people how to browse haha.

        I’ve thought about a winch, but I only want to add bits that I’m truly going to use. I’m a weekend warrior at best right now, not yet a winch requirer… but who knows. The day I do need it and don’t have it would suck.

        1. You can “use” it for cosmetic purposes until you create more practical uses.

          Winch scene starts around seven and a half minutes in.

        2. I’ve used the winch on my Jeep 3 or 4 times in 3 years of having it. I had it 8 months or so before I used it, and was starting to feel like a poser, but then I got stuck stuck, miles outside of cell phone range. If I didn’t have it that would have been a very long day. Even with it it took me 90 minutes to get unstuck. I don’t wheel crazy stuff, but occasionally I find myself unexpectedly a bit over my head. It’s nice to have.

          It also does NOT need to be a Warn. If you’re driving across Africa, sure. For the average weekend warrior a $200 winch will do you just fine. I have a Smittybilt that has been trouble free so far, for a quarter the price of a comparable Warn. If I was dead set on having a Warn I still wouldn’t have a winch at all.

        3. Serious respect for not going the poser route. The mall Jeeps around here are ridiculously loaded with off-road goodies that never see dirt. Unused winches annoy me about as much as the front tow hooks on lowered Civics that have never been on a track.

    4. Oh, I was thinking I managed to get a virus or something on my phone. Good to hear it’s something that’s actually helping the site out.

    5. Honestly I’ve wondered how you keep the site running, with no immediately apparent revenue sources. If a few ads are needed keep the Hooniverse up and running, then it seems like a no brainer.

      Also, I had no idea anything other than Land Rover was in the Camel Trophy. Cool story. I wonder how many of the 150 spec models are still around?

    6. They’re not bad on my computer, but they’re incredibly intrusive on the phone – the thing that has popped up first today (each time, repeatedly) when I navigate to the ‘verse on mobile covers 1/3 to 1/2 of the screen, and so far has been “need work during the pandemic? click here!” garbage. Like someone else mentioned, they gave me a second of wtf is wrong?! I’ll keep this place whitelisted on my laptop, but absolutely not on mobile. Inline ads that can be scrolled past are much more palatable, IMO.

    7. Don’t sweat it, I already had this site whitelisted, after all, you and the team here deserve to get paid for entertaining us.

    8. They’re not bad on my computer, but they’re incredibly intrusive on the phone – the thing that has popped up first today (each time, repeatedly) when I navigate to the ‘verse on mobile covers 1/3 to 1/2 of the screen, and so far has been “need work during the pandemic? click here!” garbage. Like someone else mentioned, they gave me a second of wtf is wrong?! I’ll keep this place whitelisted on my laptop, but absolutely not on mobile. Inline ads that can be scrolled past are much more palatable, IMO.

      1. Here they cover only 1/4 of my screen (2017 Samsung A5), but the ads can be clicked away.

      2. Here they cover only 1/4 of my screen (2017 Samsung A5), but the ads can be clicked away.

    9. Do you get a thicker cut if we click on a couple of them? It’s the least we can do…. EDIT – I see 0A asked below.

  2. Ad blocker off. At least you’re loading content before ads. I hate sites that make me wait for ads to load.

  3. At first glance my brain read “Camel Toe… ass”, and I thought for a moment that you guys had gone from car porn to the real stuff.

    1. I skipped ahead randomly in the video above to about the 1:30 mark and wondered something similar. I also hit the back 5s key, but only once.

  4. I browse the site generally via Feedly and Firefox on my android tablet. The embedded browser in Feedly is not showing any ads nor is Firefox. As much as I like an ad free experience, I’d like you guys to be paid too so I thought you’d like to know.

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