The Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution is a Dakar Rally homologation special, developed to allow Mitsubishi to compete in the highly-competitive, production-based T2 class.

Mitsubishi would win the Dakar 12 times between 1985 and 2007. Their most dominant time was 2001 to 2005, when they had five back-to-back first-place finishes and 12 of the 15 available podium places.

Fast Facts – The Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution

  • The Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution was released in 1997 and sold until 1999, just 2,693 road-going versions were made for homologation purposes. Today they’re considered highly collectible by many, though they’re not a common sight outside of Japan.
  • By the time of the release of the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, Mitsubishi already had a long and proud history of Paris-Dakar and rally raid participation, with a number of wins under their belt.
  • The Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution is powered by a 3.5 liter 24 valve DOHC V6 6G74 engine with MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control system) and a dual plenum variable intake.
  • This engine produces 275 bhp at 6,500 rpm, most are paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission, however some did get a 5-speed manual.

Mitsubishi And The Mighty Paris Dakar Rally

The Paris Dakar Rally was first run in 1979 with competitors racing from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal – hence the name of the event. The race was founded by legendary French off-road racer Thierry Sabine who had become lost in the desert while competing in the 1975 Cote-Cote Abidjan-Nice Rally – he realized it would be a perfect place for a rally raid event.

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Image DescriptionThe styling of the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution is unmistakable, thanks to the flared fenders, hood vents, revised bumpers, and its much wider stance than the standard model.

In the first Paris Dakar Rally 182 vehicles departed from Paris but just 74 of them survived the two week, 10,000 kilometer journey across the Sahara and North Africa. The popularity of the race skyrocketed, in 1980 there were 216 entrants, then 291 in 1982, and 382 by 1982.

In 1983 Mitsubishi entered the rally for the first time, seeing it as a perfect platform to showcase the Mitsubishi Pajero model that had been release a year before to compete with the ever popular Toyota Land Cruiser.

In order to give the new Pajero model a reputation boost a modified version was entered into the Paris Dakar Rally and it defied expectations by winning the non-modified production car class.

The company repeated the feat the next year by winning the class again, over the next two plus decades the Japanese automaker took 12 wins in the Paris Dakar Rally, with 150 stage wins – and they earned the Guinness World Record for “Most Dakar Rally Wins by A Manufacturer.”

The Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution

The long history of Mitsubishi and the Paris Dakar Rally meant that in the mid-1990s when it was time to develop the next competition car the pressure was on. It needed to be based on a current production car for homologation purposes, and a road-legal version needed to be offered for sale to the general public.

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Image DescriptionThe interior looks much the same as the standard Pajero of the era, with just a fe minor additions to let you know you’re in something special.

Known as the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution for obvious reasons, the new vehicle was based on the unibody shell of the second generation Pajero – however it was vastly modified, with new suspension, a wide body kit, skid plates, large mud flaps, with power provided by a 275 bhp 3.5 liter 24 valve DOHC V6 6G74 engine with MIVEC and a dual plenum variable intake.

For those unfamiliar with the acronym, MIVEC stands for “Mitsubishi Innovative Valve-Timing Electronic Control” it’s a variable valve timing system that allows different timing for the intake and exhaust valves depending on load, engine speed, and driving conditions.

Inside the vehicle you’ll find Recaro seats with larger bolsters than the standard Mitsubishi seats designed to keep the driver and front passenger in place even when enthusiastic off-road driving is undertaken.

Other than the seats the interior looks very similar to the standard second generation Pajero, largely due to the fact that this was a low-volume homologation model and so interior parts were kept close to stock to keep costs in check.

Mitsubishi built 2,693 examples of the V55W between 1997 and 1999 for homologation purposes. Most were fitted with the 5-speed automatic transmission (with a dual range transfer case) however some received a 5-speed manual – most other specifications remained largely unchanged over the production run.

The Pajero Evolution model series would become the most successful production-based Dakar rally vehicles ever made – taking 12 victories from 1985 to 2007, even managing a historic 1-2-3 finish in 1998 which cemented its reputation as King of the Desert.

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Image DescriptionThe 3.5 liter V6 produces 275 bhp at 6,500 rpm, most are paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission, however some did get a 5-speed manual.

Today the Pajero Evolution V55W is increasingly seen as a modern classic and their values have been slowly rising – though one issue many potential buyers face is managing to find one for sale. The values do vary from region to region however the model seems to still be hovering under the radar of most, and they can be bought for reasonable money considering their rarity and race heritage.

The 1997 Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution Shown Here

The vehicle you see here is a Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution from 1997, the first year of production. It has the 5-speed automatic gearbox fitted and it’s one of just 87 cars that were finished in Passion Red.

This Pajero Evolution was delivered new in Japan where it remained for the vast majority of its life, accumulating 179,865 km or 111,763 miles. It was imported into Australia approximately two years ago where it has remained in storage, having not been road registered yet.

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Image DescriptionEven from behind you can tell it’s a Pajero Evolution, thanks in no small part to the fins attached to the rear of the roof and C pillars.

This vehicle is riding on white 16 inch OZ Racing wheels which suit it very well, these are shod with Terramaxx All-Terrain tires on all four corners. It also has automatic climate control, a digital clock, a heated rear screen, fold-down rear armrests, electric folding door mirrors, electric windows, and dual Kenwood stereo head units.

It’s being offered for sale by Collecting Cars out of Sydney, Australia and it comes with the owner’s manuals, the service booklet, along with some Japanese maintenance paperwork, and the tool kit. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images courtesy of Collecting Cars

Published by Ben Branch -