PAJERO!

I’m going to step out of my wheelhouse a bit and talk about something that has nothing to do with movement. Well, maybe a little bit, but not in the fitness sense. Regardless, the real motivation was finding this little gem I wrote a few years ago to sell my truck as I was going through some old documents on the computer. It won’t make sense without any background though, so let me tell you some old war stories.

I moved to Okinawa, Japan when I was 21 years old. I stayed there for a very long time. Life on this sub-tropical paradise was amazing thanks to lots of sunny weather, some great friends, tons of parties, but most importantly the seemingly endless jungle wilderness to explore. If you’re not familiar with Okinawa, go look at a map real quick. Look for it south of mainland Japan and just northeast of Taiwan. Zoom in. And zoom in again. Okinawa is TINY. Yet somehow there wasn’t a weekend when I could not find some old two-tracks to go off-roading down or another secret dive site that a buddy had heard of and wanted to check out.

“Okinawa may be small, but it sure keeps itself well-hidden,” as a co-worker of mine put it. This was after I showed him a beach he had never seen despite the fact that he had lived in Okinawa basically forever. Now, while I feel I’m justified in my confidence as an explorer, no amount of such skill is solely capable of getting to these places. There are some tools of the trade beyond borderline-McCandless wanderlust and the ability to use a compass. The tool that most facilitated my exploration was my 1995 Mitsubishi Pajero 4×4. To say that I loved this truck would be a ludicrous understatement.

The Pajero was nearly perfect. While living in Okinawa, I was only allowed to have one vehicle, so it had to get me through my morning commute to work at least as much as it had to smash through trees and plow through sandy beaches. Somehow, in 1995, Mitsubishi stumbled on the perfect combination of practical comfort and sheer off-road badassery that has not been seen since. I still vividly remember the first time I truly loaded it up for a SCUBA expedition. Don’t get me wrong, I had dived quite a bit before this day and many times that meant using my Pajero to get me to dive sites, but this day was a true exercise in dedication to the sport. I loaded myself and two of my friends along with all of our gear and nine SCUBA tanks. This is a two-door, short-wheel base vehicle. Somehow, with folding one-half of the split back seat, I managed to load up well over three-quarters of a ton of meat, metal and neoprene for the most epic series of dives ever, way up on one of the most inaccessible north shores of Okinawa. Amazing.

By now you get it, I loved that truck. It was fun, practical, and supremely capable. I would have kept it forever (though nearly 7 years isn’t too shabby), but alas it was time for me to leave my sub-tropical paradise and move back to the United States. That was a hard move for lots of reasons, leaving behind my Pajero included. Of course I toyed with the idea of shipping it home, but that simply was not an option. Unfortunately I was the last of most of my friends to leave, so there weren’t too many people I knew at the time that would have been able to properly handle this beast (the only real candidate already had his own Pajero). The search for a suitable owner was on.

On Okinawa, there is a yard-sale site called Bookoo that many foreigners used. At about the same time as I was getting ready to sell my Pajero (by getting ready I mean dealing with it emotionally), I saw an ad for a 2004 Honda Prelude. I have to give the seller credit, he came up with a pretty entertaining and attention-grabbing ad. However, I felt like the hubris he intentionally displayed for his Prelude to be misplaced on such a mediocre car. Taking a cue from his style, I wrote an ad that was semi in response to his. I didn’t keep a copy of his ad, but I did keep a copy of mine and I intend to share it here. As you read it, there are parts that seem kind of out of the blue or a bit non sequitur – they are direct call outs to the other guy’s ad or things specific to automotive processing in Japan, so don’t think about it too hard. Anyway, here it is in all its original, unedited glory:

Word on the street is that the world’s manliest vehicle is for sale here on Bookoo, but it’s a..ahem..Prelude?? This only goes to prove the confused world we live in! Speaking of a confused world, when things get real dicey during the incoming Zombie invasion, do you want to get caught thinking “only if I could climb over these rocks and drive on the beach with the world’s greatest 4×4 system and save the life of myself and those close to me?” Of course not! That is where the PAJERO! comes in.

This truck (truly an understatement if one was ever made) laughs at ninjas as it establishes dominion over Mother Nature. Tom Selleck? Please. The overpowered 3.5L V6 and short chassis design eschews cheap ’70s mustaches and simply reeks of glorious, third-fist hiding man-beards like that of Chuck Norris. In fact, the Walker Texas Ranger himself may have used this very Pajero to scale mountain roads north of Nago and storm beaches in Miyagi and Uruma. Surely if that happened, he did it while roundhouse kicking the brains out of any ninjas, terrorists, or glute hammering gym rats along the way!

As with any man-machine, the Pajero does not waste time on cute amenities like TV screens and navigation systems (use a compass! it comes with one, by the way) but focuses on what is really useful. It sports adjustable suspension, both in firmness (it even has a ‘soft’ setting, just in case you need to display your sensitive side) and in clearance. Since when can you flip a switch and gain more than 2″ of suspension clearance!! Only once upon a time when Sports Utility Vehicle actually meant something. On top you’ll find a luggage rack that can handle any cargo and in the back you will find an integrated tool kit (first aid for people? Don’t make me laugh; if it can’t be fixed with an included wrench, is it worth fixing?).

The ’95 short-wheel base Pajero represents an end to an era; an homage to the Greatest Generation in form and function. General Patton himself would be proud to storm any beach in this beast. Likely, he would have done it with 2 other friends and more than 9 SCUBA tanks and all associated gear while finding his way to only the most interesting and secret dive spots on Okinawa. Many before me have complained how inaccessible this island can be, and to that I say “I beg to differ.”

JCI is good until February 2013 when it will once again confound Japanese authorities with its inability to quit and amazing capabilities to pass the test with flying colors over and over. Only because I am being forced off this island am I considering letting go of such awesomeness, but if you feel that you can handle taking the mantle of the sheer over-whelming majesty of the ’95 3500 V6 Pajero, give me a call or shoot me an email.

Interestingly enough, I actually received many more requests from people for me to write ads for them as opposed to wanting to see the truck. Unfortunately, mere days after I posted the ad, some punk-ass Okinawan kids smashed the passenger window while trying to steal my girlfriends purse. Luckily we were walking back to the truck at the time and basically caught them in the act, but they had already thrown a brick through the passenger window. Even though I wanted nothing more than to Homer Simpson-style strangle that kid, I had to admire his canon of an arm – he put a baseball sized chunk of brick through the window so hard that it crossed over to the driver’s side, dented the steering wheel and tore a huge chunk out of the plastic molding and the upholstery of the driver’s door. Not bad for a kid who couldn’t have been more than 13 years old.

Anyway, nobody was willing to buy a truck that was short of a window and had a passenger seat covered in glass. I didn’t have the time to invest in repairs before leaving, so I unfortunately had no recourse but to recycle the truck. Thanks to it being Japan, I received a sizable chunk of change for recycling it, in fact the amount was nearly comparable to what I was asking for the truck. Regardless, I got way more than my money’s worth out of it during our nearly decade long run. That was a rough day…a friend went with me to drop it off and I could barely hide my near emotional breakdown after I received my money and stamped receipt. I still think of that Pajero often.

2 Replies to “PAJERO!”

  1. Man.. you should have eaten the cost and had it shipped to the States. No one explored quite as much as the island as the man and his Pajero. Even my RVR couldn’t compete…. though we tried! I still can’t believe it brought you back despite your best efforts to maroon yourself on some remote part of the island. RIP Pajero.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *