When it comes to cars, a lot of people love them for certain reasons. Whether it is their dream car or even a car they saw belting around racetracks, everyone has a reason why they like certain cars. For me and the C70, it was simple, I had a massive love for GT cars so when given the opportunity to own one as my first car I jumped at the chance. Add in the S80 that we had prior to me saving, this added the fuel to the fire so to speak, I simply had to have one. For my mate Junior, it was a very similar story but with a very different car manufacture. Whereas a lot of people might lust after a BMW M3 or a Jaguar F-Type, Junior has an undying love for Ssangyong Musso’s.
So, why is this and what makes Junior of all people like these cars so much? Well, simply put when he was growing up, his dad bought his first-ever Musso. Unfortunately Junior can’t really remember much about it apart from the fact it was silver, regardless of all that though, it sparked something inside him that he simply couldn’t shake however hard he tried. This was the start of Junior’s obsession with these true underdogs of the 4×4 world.
When I say that these are underdogs in the 4×4 world, I really mean it. The Musso exists due to a partnership between SsangYong & none other than Mercedes-Benz. Simply put, SsangYong was to build a car using the running gear from Mercedes and the Musso was the outcome. Engines available were a 2.9 non-turbo diesel which had a low output of 98bhp and a 0-60 time of 19.7s making it the slowest 4×4 on the UK market. after that, you had a 2.9 turbo diesel with 120bhp and an improved 0-60 run of 14 seconds. If you wanted a petrol-powered Musso, there was a 2.3 N/A 4-cylinder with 146bhp and then the mightiest of them all, the king daddy if you so wish. I am of course talking about the GX220. Because of the Mercedes underpinnings and the large bay that the Musso had, the mighty 3.2 M104 inline 6 was slotted in place giving the Musso a healthy 220bhp and a 0-60 of between 8.5s and 9-5s depending on reports. as mentioned, this was the engine in the GX220 which also so happened to be the top-spec Musso available at the time. The 3.2 powering it was so mighty that it was even known as the fastest 4×4 on the UK market for quite a substantial time even beating out the V8 Range Rovers which is actually surprising to hear, especially considering that a V8 Range Rover is one of my all-time favorite 4×4’s. Transmissions available for the Musso’s were either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed auto.
Designed from scratch by Ken Greenley, it isn’t actually too terrible in the looks department compared to other SsangYongs to come. With SsangYong being known throughout the Millenium for building truly ugly cars, the Musso stands proud as a 4×4 that actually looks rather good compared to the rest of the lineup. Even though these cars don’t appeal to a lot of people in regard to their design I actually like some of the design details they have. For example, the front door kinks down towards the front wing giving the car a rather nice side profile. Add in the rear-end and the way that it meets at an angle in the middle is also a nice touch and looks very Range Rover-ish but with an obvious stronger rake. Add in the 6-spoke wheels that come standard and it looks alright for a 4×4.
Getting back to Junior and his out & out obsession with these cars, it properly started for him when he was given his first Musso in green. Originally bought as a family car, it got replaced by another Musso so instead of part exchanging the old one for the replacement, it got given to Junior to play around with and that was the one Junior started to fall for. Unfortunately in 2009, the green one Junior had been given had to get stripped & sent to the scrapyard due to the overall condition of it. Shortly afterward, his dad sold the second green one with all the spares from the one Junior had.
After being without a Musso for about 4 years, in 2013 Juniors’ dad was looking at another 4×4 to tow their caravan they had and this is where the silver one came about. After being told about it sitting in a garden for about 4 years they eventually bought it for £350. Surprisingly after 4 years of sitting, it started the first time and only really need a few wheel nuts and new brakes to pass. After getting it roadworthy they used it for everything including a move from Bristol to Dumfries, Scotland. It was used daily up until July of last year where sadly Junior’s dad, unfortunately, passed away. Since then it was put into storage where it sat until March of this year when junior himself took the car over and brought it home to the driveway where it now currently sits.
Due to both his and his dad’s love for these underdogs, Junior decided to keep his dad’s memory alive by buying himself a red GX220 to remember him by. His original plan was to restore it but due to quite severe rust, it, unfortunately, got scrapped as it was too far gone. This is where his new one comes in. With junior feeling bummed out by the condition his red one was in, he decided to buy a white 1997 Musso GX220 as it’s replacement. Named ‘Harley’, this Musso is an Australian Import GX220 with the 4-speed auto fitted to it. White is a rare colour for Musso’s, especially here in the UK so to see a white one is quite a sight.
In the late ’90s, Daewoo bought out SsangYong which meant that there was also a Daewoo variant of the Musso, major differences between the two were new bumpers, new lights and a new front grille. Apart from that they pretty much stayed the same all the way from 1993 to 2005, not bad going for a 12-year life span. The Musso name came back recently but instead of getting applied to a 4×4 it was put onto their new pickup truck instead.
With everybody loving cars for different reasons, It’s nice to see people like Junior not just keeping these cars going but also keeping his dad’s spirit alive as well. All the rare parts and money in the world means nothing, especially if it’s getting preserved to keep a long-lost family members spirit alive and Junior is doing exactly that and good on him. anyone in that same situation would do that if given half the chance, including me!
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson