I forgot how much fun I had with my Mitsubishi Montero despite its relatively high cost. I bought it to replace the Datsun pickup that was too small for the three of us. Although I bought a salesman's demonstrator at the end of the year, it was still probably the most expensive car I've ever owned, and not even a particularly well-built one, either, as I had to replace a warped head gasket, a transmission in the years I owned it.
Despite that, looking back I would have to say that it turned out to be a bargain. The kids had wanted to cross-country ski, but after one experience driving a Datsun pickup in the snow, I vowed never to do that again. The Montero opened up many delightful years of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, all possible without ever having to get out and put on chains. I skied extensively in the ten years I owned it, making trips up and down the West Coast to cross-country ski.
In the summer tt was the perfect vehicle to drive to the beach one day and to the Cascade Mountains the next day. Although I avoided off-roading as a matter of principle, I did negotiate some old logging roads I would never have attempted with anything other than a 4-wheel drive with plenty of ground clearance. It went anywhere I wanted to go with relative ease.
It was equally comfortable on the highway and the perfect vehicle to explore the full length of the Columbia Gorge, more than adequate on the open-road, but instantly ready for rough side roads.
It also beautifully handled two trips to Alaska, one with my teenage son and, later, one with Leslie. On our trip, my son and I managed to sink it up to the skidplate while driving the Alaskan back country. Fifty miles from nowhere, we spent the better part of a day jacking up one wheel, placing rocks and small branches under, jacking up another wheel, etcetera, until finally we managed to back out. Seen from a distance, even that harrowing event takes on a rather Romantic tone.
I tend to emphasize those things that I enjoy doing that are free or that actually save money, but I also need to remember that expensive things can sometimes enrich our lives, too, more than justifying what we paid for them.
I finally sold the ten-year-old Montero after the carburetor caught fire on the freeway near Redding while driving home home from my father-in-law's funeral. Stranded for two days and likely several more days waiting for repairs, I decided I'd had enough and traded it on a new vehicle, the one I own today. At first, despite some questionable repairs, I was going to buy another Montero until I saw the over-sized behemoth that Mitsubishi had replaced it with, one that bore little relationship to the car I had fallen in love with in the last ten years.