The 90s were a wild time for Japanese cars, with some of the most iconic vehicles to ever come out of the country stemming from those years. One of the coolest yet somewhat unknown projects of the time was the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, a road-legal homologated Dakar Rally SUV, and one has popped up for sale in the U.S.
It’s worth noting that the Pajero Evolution was never sold in the U.S., nor was it legal to import until this year. As such, this 1997 model up for auction on Cars & Bids is fresh off the boat, having just been imported from Japan in the earlier part of the year.
See Also: 1997 Mitsubishi Pajero Evo Is A Reminder Of The Brand’s Dakar-Dominating Days
Something else to know about this SUV is that it’s exceedingly rare. Only 2,500 examples were ever produced from 1997 to 1999, and this one is one of only about 500 of them to be fitted with a manual transmission, making it even more desirable.
To differentiate itself from the normal Pajero of the time, the Evo sports an exclusive body kit complete with box flares, new bumpers, a new hood, and a rear hatch spoiler with fin-shaped endplates. Other changes included new 16-inch wheels, skid plates, and a new suspension system. Inside, there are Recaro sport seats up front, and the seller has also added a Nardi steering wheel and a Pioneer touchscreen head unit.
More: Do Off-Roaders Get Any Cooler Than This Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution?
While the SUV’s odometer does read a somewhat high 129,860 miles (208,989 km), you wouldn’t know it by looking at it. And thankfully, for those looking to return the Evo to stock to preserve its collector status, the light number of modifications ensures that task won’t be too difficult.
Under the hood of the off-roader is a 3.5-liter V6, which is technically rated at 276 hp (280 PS / 206 kW) and 256 lb-ft (348 Nm) of torque, though that first figure was believed to be underrated due to the horsepower-limiting “gentlemen’s agreement” of the time. Nevertheless, that engine drives the rear or all four wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission and a two-speed transfer case.