Mitsubishi have always been known for producing occasional wild animal vehicles, and here is one you may not have been aware of in the 4×4 world, the Pajero Evolution.
The Mitsusbishi Pajero Evolution was born as a need to create a vehicle for the Dakar T2 category, which was based on production models. The name “Pajero” comes from the Pampas Cat in the Argentinian Patagonian plateau region.
It could reach 205 km/h and accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 8 seconds, not bad for an SUV. Not only did it have a more powerful engine with the variable valve timing 3.5 liter V6 giving a unique 276 horsepower, the “PajEvo” as it was affectionately known got all new suspension. The suspension was dubbed ARMIE by Mitsubishi, that stands for All Road Multilink Independent suspension for Evolution, if you’re curious. The car’s track was widened by 125mm at the front, 110mm at the rear. Suspension travel is 240mm (9.5in) at the front, 270mm (10.6) at the rear. The dampers aren’t deeply discussed, other than that there’s a ball joint type stabilizer. Also added were new differentials, skidplates, Recaro seats, a widebody kit, and mudflaps, that give a tremendous look. Too bad that interior was as ‘standard’ apart from the seats.
The idea was to sneak a super-strong car into the otherwise-tame stock class by selling 2500 beefy specials to the public. That homologates them for the stock class. It’s a way to sort of stretch the rules by following them to the letter of the law but not the spirit. All of this paid off for Mitsubishi, as they not only dominated the T2 class with this car, they dominated the whole Dakar Rally! They covered over 10,000 kilometers in 18 days, and finished five hours before the next competitor.
On the move there’s the choice of rear-wheel drive, high-range all-wheel drive, high-range diff lock, or low-range diff lock. In other words getting stuck is very unlikely. What does date the PajEvo is steering that gets increasing vague at speeds. But its lack of body roll means you really can hustle the big 4×4. A big surprise is that it can also tow 3,500kg.
All of this means that the Pajero Evolution remains to this day tougher than just about any other production 4×4 vehicle on the market.
The car was manufactured between 1997 and 1999, with just 2,500 PajEvos made and aimed at the Japanese market, so produced only in right hand drive, none were officially imported to the UK, but they are here, quietly sneaking around.
Prices are low for what you are getting, one recently appeared for sale for £10,000 and sold within a week. If you do decide to own one, be aware of the maintenance costs however, they can be frightening with mud flaps costing around £600, an alternator in the region of £800 and suspension components are only found on the PajEvo so just a shock costs 3 times the price of a standard model.
But they are now a modern classic and you would be owning a piece of the legendary Dakar race history, with value appreciation guaranteed.
Check out this video of the Evo in action …