Homologation specials aren’t new but the price and capability of the Mitsubishi Pajero Evo is mind blowing and by that we mean they’re stupid-cheap. Shhh.
Homologation specials aren’t a new thing in motorsport. To gain entry car makers roll out a certain number of muscular road-ready versions of their race cars.
Think BMW M3, Lancia Delta Integrale, and Audi ur-quattro…try and buy one of those things and you’ll need to sell both arms and legs. Enter the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution. This thing is the last great bargain-buy of the motoring world. Seriously.
These things are rare. Only 2500 were built between 1997 and 1999 (and bugger all of them came to Australia) to help Mitsubishi run the Pajero Evolution in the T2 class of the proper Dakar rally.
And it was a proper cheeky move by Mitsubishi. See, the T2 class was intended for showroom off-roaders, so to side-step the rules Mitsubishi came up with the Paj Evo and built and sold 2500 of the things which allowed it to enter its dirt road racer into Dakar.
But Mitsubishi didn’t just dominate T2 with the PajEvo, it dominated Dakar winning the thing outright in 1998. In fact, it filled all three spots. And a legend was born.
So, as far as back stories go, the PajEvo has one of the best in the business. And that’s why it’s absolutely baffling they don’t cost three or four times as much as they do. Locally, you can pick up one for less than $45k which is a bargain when you consider that this thing was bred to go as fast on dirt and gravel as it could on bitumen.
We found this one in Adelaide selling for less than $42k. It’s with Tokyo Prestige and you can check out the listing HERE. It’s done 96,000km which is bugger all really. And if the photos are anything to go by it looks mint.
So, just what makes the PajEvo so special? Well, just look at it. There are no bolt-on bits for looks. Everything you see was designed with a specific purpose in mind. Under the bonnet is a 3.5L V6 making 202kW and 348Nm of torque and you could choose from either a manual or automatic transmission, the one we found above runs an auto. The suspension is different from the regular three-door Pajero of the time, running a double wishbone with coils at the front and multi-link independent rear end at the back. It runs a wider track (up +125mm at the front and +110mm at the rear) and wider tyres than a regular Pajero of the time too. And the front and rear offered longer wheel travel than a garden-variety Pajero (240mm at the front and 270mm at the back).
There’s full underbody protection to ward off rocks and whatever other crap you might bounce the thing over. Like other Pajeros, the PajEvo can be run in rear-drive or all-wheel drive on bitumen with low-range and Torsen front and rear differentials; three all up. The chassis was stiffened and the steering made quicker.
On the inside, the dashboard was more or less the same as a regular Pajero. The Recaro bucket seats weren’t.
What should you be looking for if you want to buy one? Simple, something in good nick with papers and that hasn’t been messed with. Walk away if it’s got holes where they shouldn’t be and they say autos are better than the manual variants.
At the end of the day, the PajEvo is a heap of car for the money and I reckon it would easily hold its own against a Ranger Raptor on a fast outback run. And it just looks so damn cool. Buy one.
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