[ Originally published 10/31/10 | republished 01/04/18 ]
If you really want to get to know someone, grab a couple-a cold beers and hike up a steep, deeply rutted, forest road crawling with scorpions in almost complete darkness and see what they have to say, isolated on the summit overlooking civilization—ideally after a long, hot drive up similar roads earlier in the day.
Or, make a point of spending time with this guy when he and his girlfriend pass through town on their way home from California, driving cross-country in another 40-year old classic car they bought sight-unseen off Craigslist from 2,000-plus miles away on the Indiana-Michigan border.
Or just return his call when you’re leaving the office and have the best drive home of the year.
SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR AWAY
It’s hard to believe I’ve known Josh going on a decade already. In many ways, he still kinda feels like “that one GVR4 owning, Mitsubishi Galant-Colt guy with the monster Montero from Michigan”—despite his having lived here in Maricopa county for, what, three years now?
I mean, we’re practically neighbors, but it’s an hour each way and a quarter tank of fuel in Fezzik, my 1998 Mitsubishi Montero, to pay him a visit—as confirmed by my recent drive out to interview Josh for The Gearhead Project podcast. I still only see him a couple times a year.
(Seriously, guys. Everytime one of you tells me you’re moving to Phoenix—only to settle down in NW El Paso—it makes me sad.)
Josh (and Kim) have stopped by my house in Phoenix several times over the years—most often driving an old Mitsubishi they bought only days before.
He’s crashed on the floor in my daughter’s room—years before she was born. He’s brought me not one, but TWO clever old hubcaps, and the amount of technical support he’s provided as related to my Montero’s condition practically makes him a saint in my book.
OPPORTUNITY COST OVERDRIVE
Not long after moving to Phoenix, Josh quickly connected with Adam, aka: Toasty, one of the godfathers of the North American Montero community (and the guy who first introduced ME to the local Montero scene).
Soon after that, he quit his day job to launch Adventure Driven Design; an aftermarket performance shop catering to Mitsubishi Monteros and other popular 4WD vehicles.
Since launching ADD, we’ve seen Josh take several road trips back and forth across the country. We see him biking, hiking, and paddling around places I don’t even recognize after almost 20 years in the region.
We see him driving vintage Mitsubishis, cherry Galant VR4s, monster Monteros, DSMs, Cafe racers, mopeds, and more. He’s always off on some kind of adventure or having the time of his life, it seems.
What we DON’T see, though, are all the late nights he spends in the shop behind his house in east Mesa, bending over backwards to get customer orders packed and shipped. We don’t see the mechanical troubles he faces with his own vehicles because he’s spent all his time helping others with theirs.
We weren’t there to see the look on his face when he sold off the bulk of his automotive toys to fund the startup and lean out his lifestyle to allow the longest runway possible. We don’t see the opportunity costs—what Josh gave up in order to have a chance at achieving something more for himself.
MOD 2017: ON TOP OF THE WORLD
And so it came to be I found myself standing in almost complete darkness talking about life, the Universe, and everything, with Josh on a hotter-than-anyone-expected July weekend, isolated on the summit of a minor mountain in SoCal, overlooking civilization—the 15/215 interchange—after a long, hot drive up similar roads earlier in the day.
The only reason my Montero made it to MOD this year was because Josh (and Adam) went out of their way to help me troubleshoot a particularly nasty misfire condition over the course of three weeks leading up to the event. They helped me fix the truck before I left. After I got there. And then again once I got home.
The only reason I wanted to MAKE it to MOD this year was because Josh (and Adam) rallied the troops and got more Montero owners to show up at MOD 17 than had attended all previous MOD events combined. (I think there were about 40 of us all together.)
Yeah, if you really want to get to know someone, spend some time with them talking about life on top of a mountain. You’ll know if you’re in the right company.
I certainly was. I’ll even go so far as to say Josh is one of the reasons why I wanted to start a podcast. I can only convey so much in text. Things mean more when you hear it as it was originally shared.
So now you have a bit of an idea why I interviewed Josh for the podcast. What follows is a slightly refreshed version of our original interview from 2010. Consider it a snapshot into the life of someone who packed up and changed everything in pursuit of something more.
If he hasn’t found it yet, I expect he will soon. He’s on the right path.
Josh Mead has a license to ill. Seriously. Think we’re kidding? Check out his ’97 Montero, with the ginormous tires, meticulously Frankensteined driveline, and then imagine him stuffing a 6G72 out of a 3000GT under the hood. In the last 10 years, he’s gone from DSM to GVR4 to Evo to GVR4 to a pair of Montys. Ill.
What Mitsubishi(s) do you drive? How long have you had it/them?
Currently a 1990 Galant GSX, converted to VR4, 1997 Montero Sport LS 4×4, 2001 Montero Sport Limited 4×4. I’ve been a miitsu driver for 10 years.
What originally attracted you to Mitsubishi?
The backbone caught my attention; so to speak. I’m of course referring to the popular 4G63 engine.
Growing up, I was a big fan of Mopar. I spent a lot of my free time with my best friend and his dad going to events and car shows. One day my friend brought home a 1990 Plymouth Laser. 2 liters and turbocharged. After toying around with the intake, messing with boost, and then dealing with a blown turbo, I was hooked—boosted, iron-block power needed to be in my driveway.
I sourced a 1992 Eclipse and later moved on to a Galant VR4, then EVO VIII, and back to a Galant, all the while keeping the sport utility Monteros around for reliability and of course, utility.
How do you use your Mitsubishi?
The 1997 Montero Sport was originally purchased as a reliable daily driver. At 180,000 miles, it was exactly that, until I chopped out all of the suspension and started custom building it from the rubber up.
The 2001 Montero Sport was purchased to replace the ‘97 as a mod-free daily driver. The Galant is a summer toy, with minor power mods make it reliable and fun to drive.
What are your goals for your Mitsubishi?
The 2001 is a simple answer—daily drive it until the wheels fall off!
The 1997 gets a little more complicated. The goals here involve a lot of dented body panels, vertical burnouts on rock faces and snapped U-joints.
Considering your goals, can you tell us about a couple of your favorite mods and how they help you towards realizing the goals you’ve set for the vehicle?
Currently in the works for the ‘97 Montero is a 3000GT SL 10:1 engine to replace the stock lower compression 6G72 that comes in the Montero, bolted to the stock AW4 auto trans, and followed up with a Jeep NP231 transfer case feeding a Dana 44 and Ford 9 inch. Both axles came from a late 70’s ford truck, both holding 5.14 gears to help turn the 17 inch Dodge wheels wrapped in 37-inches of rubber.
How often do you get together with other Mitsubishi owners in person? What do you do?
Everyday! My brother and best friend have been Mitsubishi owners for longer than I have. We get together all the time and turn wrenches, my brother has two Chrysler Conquests—one still rocking the original G54B—the other is hauling a stroked-out 4G63, a turbo large enough to eat small animals, and a Turbo 350 trans to get the power down. My best friend currently drags a 92 Galant VR4 down the ¼ mile in 11 seconds on a stock long block.
Tell us about something really exciting you’ve done with other Mitsubishi owners.
Drag racing, autocross racing, rallycross racing, trail running and off roading. They’ve all been extremely exciting, but none of that compares to the years of close knit friendships I’ve developed while working shoulder to shoulder with friends or talking things out over long phone calls..
Tell us about a time something broke and what it took to fix it.
I’ve been quite happy with the Monteros. I’ve never been left stranded or had a breakdown that caused major damage. But I was headed out to Chicago one afternoon and while on the highway this horrible rumble of a sound came from the front wheel, when I hit a bump… it stopped.
I pulled off the side of the highway and climbed under the 97 to see what was going on (this was back when it was stock). No apparent problem was found so I hopped in and moved it slowly back and forth trying to see if anything was loose. I found nothing and decided to continue on.
A couple more times that day it happened, and then again on my way home the next week. After tearing the hub apart and inspecting the bearings, repacking, and going through everything, it wasn’t until weeks later that I found the carrier bearing for the front CV shafts in an exploded view of the front hub.
This tiny, $10 part had been the cause of this ridiculous noise. After replacing it, the sound was gone and never came back, but I ordered two of them, just in case. The extra is still in the glove box of my 97, even though its front axle is now out of a Ford truck.
What is your embarrassment moment—that time you made a stupid mistake?
Buying a GReddy Type S blow off valve for my first DSM, I think I ran at most, 17psi, which can easily be handled by the stock, proven 1G DSM valve. I was a kid and thought it was shiny and looked nice, so I dropped the $250 or more on it. I quickly grew up and learned $250 was better spent in other areas. The “if its not broke, don’t fix it” phrase.
What is your finest hour—that time you saw it all come together perfectly?
Well, it wasn’t perfect, but it came out pretty good. If you google “Galant VR4 vs EVO”, it’s the first video that comes up. I was driving my 12-second Galant VR4 against an EVO VIII. (This was back in 2006 and Evos were still pretty new.)
Despite having my adjustable suspension left in the softer settings, I still got the launch and as the camera man said “raped him”. The driver of the EVO was a really nice guy and it was a “just for fun” race, but it caught massive internet popularity.
What’s the best part about being a Mitsubishi owner? The most challenging?
Best part is the iron. The quality of the factory built mitsubishi’s is great, they’re extremely forgiving and can take years upon years of abuse.
The maintenance is the challenge. Buying replacement wear parts when you want to upgrade a turbo or exhaust system can be a challenge to your self control, but it’s better for you in the long run.
Which Mitsubishi communities do you frequent most and why? (What’s your screen name?)
Galant VR4.org, the most amazing Mitsubishi enthusiast site I’ve ever been a part of. DSMtuners, one of the most active Mitsubishi classifieds, EvolutionM.net, I like to keep up with the EVOs and retrofit as much new technology to my outdated VR4 as possible and Pirate 4×4’s Mitsubishi section, some of the most amazing fabricators and rigs can be found on that forum.
How have you benefited from your involvement in these communities?
I met many lifelong friends, even a couple of girlfriends. I’ve also learned a lot from the people in these communities.
How do you try to give back to these communities?
With as much valid and correct information as I can provide, there’s a lot of misinformation running around and I try to keep things as factual as possible.
What keeps you going; keeps you motivated to pick up your wrenches?
Who needs motivation to wrench? Not me, I find it soothing to turn wrenches on a Saturday afternoon.
What’s next for your Mitsubishi?
I’ve got some work I need to do still, but eventually I’d like to throw a 6G72 single turbo engine from the 3000GT VR4 into my ‘97 Montero. It’s tough for a boost junky to live without a daily dose. The ‘01 Montero doesn’t need any mods. The Galant needs JDM bumpers, coilovers, and a few other bits and pieces.
Who has helped you the most along the way with the car? Any mentors?
My brother Jay Mead and my best friend Adam Crandall have been the most helpful individuals when it comes down to it. We’ve spent years in the garage together.
What areas of vehicle ownership are most interesting to you?
The distance you travel. In the first year of ownership of my 97 Montero, I found myself finding random parts for my VR4 I wanted to pick up from states away, just for an excuse to go on a road trip.
In less than a year I put 30,000 miles on the truck, then bought a 2003 EVO VIII and parked the truck for 5 months while I enjoyed the EVO. When winter came, I decided to drive the Montero again.
I spent an hour checking fluids and looking over everything from brakes to wiring, hopped in the truck, cranked it over, it fired right up, and I went back to racking up miles again.
Everywhere you look, you find Mitsubishis with really high miles, even when they’re still pretty new. It’s because so many of them are so much fun to drive.
BE ADVENTURE DRIVEN
When we recorded the podcast, Josh and I agreed there comes a time when you know you can pretty much do anything with a vehicle, given time and money. When that time comes, there’s often a feeling of urgency to take things to the next level. That feeling tends to come from a dark, murky place deep down inside. You can’t always put your finger on it, which makes it difficult to know where to go next.
Gearbox Magazine is dedicated to helping gearheads like us shine a brighter light on these desires. We’re really good at solving problems, but we have to correctly identify them first. We know you don’t just throw parts (money) at car problems blind. You make sure you understand the root cause first.
And that’s what we’re all about now—uncovering the reasons why we want more from life and exploring new ways forward. Many of the people we’ve interviewed over the years have kept in touch. Many have gone on to modify their lives and live the dream.
How did they do it? How can YOU do it, too?
That’s what we’re going to find out.