Chasing Rainbows/Stalking Unicorns

If you’ve read any of these posts before… indeed if you’ve been anywhere NEAR any Mitsubishi 4×4 social media outlets in the last few years, you have probably seen reference to a certain Pajero Evolution, number 581. Maybe you’re already tired of hearing about it? I can’t blame you, but…no apologies here. I can’t/won’t stop talking about it. This is the first in a series about this machine, starting with it’s acquisition, and then I’ll do a deep dive into what makes it so cool. See? I can’t seem to stop blathering on about it.

Every Good Tale Begins at the Beginning

My decision to begin a search for the rare and unique Pajero Evolution was fraught with peril from the outset. Being a limited production homologation model, with only 2500 ever produced, were there actually any parts that crossed over to the mass-market Pajero, beyond the obvious things like sheetmetal and glass? Beyond this pressing question, could I still find one in decent shape, 18 years on, that was ready for export? Finally, would I have to pay a king’s ransom to actually ensnare the beast?

Parts and Labour

Some of the parts compatibilities have still yet to be answered, but, in a virtual sense, I was able to cross over some part numbers to the “normal” Pajero/Montero, such as maintenance items on the MIVEC 3.5L. I also found out that the front brakes were the same ones that the third generation model used. A few hits like this convinced me that my search wasn’t entirely irresponsible, and I began my search in earnest, anxious to discover answers to my last two questions – availability and affordability.

After watching the JDM auctions for six months or so, several things became crystal clear:

A. I wasn’t going to have the pick of the litter. Of the 80 to 100 pajeros available in a given week, there might be ONE PajEvo, or none, depending on the moon cycle and the shape of the clouds drifting over Mount Fuji.

B. Procuring a manual transmission model (my secret yearning) was going to be almost impossible. If the slushbox was rare, it was downright ubiquitous alongside its three-pedalled sister, of which I saw exactly two in all the time I was looking. I read online that of the 2500 Paj-Evo’s EVER produced, only 1/5th of them were manuals.

C. The expectation of finding a low miler in the condition that I wanted AND the price I wanted, was like trying to build a DSM that was fast, cheap, and reliable. I had to pick one, maybe two if I could get lucky.

You Have to Pay to Play

I raised my potential max bid (by proxy, through my importer), raised my mileage cutoff, and tried to lower my expectations. And then I waited. Again.

Late in January of 2016, after bidding (unsuccessfully) on exactly ONE in the past three months, I found a V55 Pajero, with little info, two grainy pics, and 140k kms, at an auction house in Hiroshima that was known for being exceptionally critical of any deficiencies. It was marked as a “3.5” and “C interior”, but my importer assured me that through any other outlet it probably would’ve been a 4-B. I had the two low res pics (included here) to go on, plus the auction sheet.

My importer requested a translation of the auction sheet, and we got this:

Mileage 139,793
Silver (black interior),
PS, PW, ABS, Airbag, Bradley AW – 18 inches,
Genuine recaro seats

Inspector’s report:
interior dirty, steering wheel worn,
Driver seat dirty,
Power side-view mirror(-s) – doesn’t work,
Small Scratches on the body,
Front glass stone chip,
Rust on the underneath body.
! fun belt noise
Japanese car inspection is passed, valid until January 2017

Hmmm. “Rust” had me worried. “Torn Steering Wheel?” Oh dear. I had 24 hours to decide, but with only a few hours to go, I decided to make a play for it. After all, who can resist a “fun belt noise” right?

I went to bed at around 4AM (Japan time is 16 hours ahead), still wondering if I had finally snagged my dream machine?


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