Pajero Evo

1997 Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution

Offered by Silverstone Auctions | Silverstone, U.K. | July 30, 2016

Photo - Silverstone Auctions

Photo – Silverstone Auctions

The Paris-Dakar Rally is one of the premier off-road racing events in the world. It’s one that has, for a long time, seen major manufacturer entries and participation. Mitsubishi, long a competitor in rally competition, was one of those manufacturers.

Homologation rules are in effect for a variety of series worldwide and Dakar is no different. Manufacturers, in order to maximize their chances, will build a race car and then build a “road car” variant (that is usually extreme in looks and performance… not to mention price) so that they can say to the event organizers: “Hey, we are entering the production class because our race car is obviously based on a road car.” It’s a little backwards, but this practice is responsible for some awesome road cars.

In 1997, Mitsubishi sold about 2,500 Pajero Evolution models to the public. They were essentially a Pajero SUV with a wild body kit and a 260 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. The interior is by Recaro. This is a pretty sporty SUV, considering it was built in 1997 and “sporty SUVs” weren’t really yet a thing. At any rate, it’s really cool – and a little bizarre. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $15,776.

10 Modern Rarities

There are cars that are rare, obviously. Sometimes it is intentional – Lamborghini and Ferrari want to sell a lot of cars and make a lot of money, but they have to balance that with exclusivity. If everyone drove a Ferrari, they wouldn’t be as special (but we’d be a lot happier, I would guess). Anyway, we are going to celebrate 10 cars (or trucks or SUVs) produced since the year 2000 by major manufacturers that just didn’t sell. Some were flops. Others were doomed from the start.

A few cars just missed the cut. Apologies to the final generation Saab 9-5, Lincoln Mark LT pickup, those two new Scions (the 2016-only iA and iM), Pontiac G5, PT Cruiser Convertible, and (at some point in the future) the Chevrolet SS. Here we go:


10. 2005-2009 Mitsubishi Raider

Mitsubishi_Raider_crew_cab

A number of Mitsubishi’s could’ve made this list. A few years ago they sold 50,000 cars in the U.S. and Ford sold half a million F-150s in the same time span. But the Dodge Dakota-based Raider is pretty rare on our roads. Over six years, they sold only 28,334 of these.


9. 2004-2005 Saab 9-2x

Saab_9-2X

The Saab 9-2x was a badge-engineered version of the Subaru Impreza hatchback. The “Saabaru” was only sold for two years and only 10,346 were built. While the Subaru version is pretty common, you almost never see the Saab. Or maybe you do – they are identical other than the grille area. It’s the fancy-man’s Impreza.


8. 2002 Lincoln Blackwood

2002_Lincoln_Blackwood_2

Have you ever actually seen one of these? I haven’t seen one in years. This was Ford’s fancy F-150 Crew Cab and it only lasted in the U.S. for one model year (Mexico got a second year). In total, only 3,356 were built. I guess people weren’t ready for a $52,000 pickup truck from a “soft” brand. My favorite Blackwood story is that, at the end of the 2002 model year, there was a dealership somewhere that had a deal: buy a Lincoln Blackwood, get a brand new Mercury Cougar… free. Talk about saddling dealers with some dead weight.


7. 2005-2008 Isuzu i-Series

Isuzu_i-Series

This was basically just a copy of the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon that was already on sale in the U.S. The picture above shows a four-door version, even rarer than the heavily-discounted two-door base model (I once saw a brand new one on a dealer lot for about $8,000 back in its day). It was a slow-seller… in the first year there were only 1,377 takers. Isuzu left the U.S. shortly after.


6. 2010-2013 Acura ZDX

1280px-2011_Acura_ZDX_--_NHTSA

Uh, what is this? The shaving razor grille of Acura is on some sort of… SUV? Crossover? Tall car? Does it have four doors or two? I’ve only ever actually seen one of these… and they are relatively recent. Only 7,191 were built and sold (they sold 18,000+ NSXs). So you’re twice as likely to see an NSX than a ZDX. Think about that.


5. 2008-2012 Suzuki Equator

2009_Suzuki_Equator_extended_cab_Premium

The pickup market is a tough nut to crack. The Equator was a Nissan Frontier-based pickup offered by Suzuki. It’s actually a decent-looking truck – better than the Nissan anyway. Canadian sales ceased in 2010 but U.S. sales soldiered on until 2012 (and Suzuki left the U.S. market not long after). Since 2009, they sold only 5,808 of these. Pretty rare.


4. 2002-2005 Lexus IS300 SportCross

Toyota_Altezza_Gita_002

Yes, I know the photo above is of the Japanese Toyota variant, but Lexus sold it as the IS300 SportCross between 2002 and 2005. While the IS300 is one of the best (the best?) car Lexus has ever built, the SportCross was a dud. Only 3,078 were built. Bentley Continental GTs are more common on our roads.


3. 2009-2010 Hummer H3T

Hummer_H3T_NY

The Hummer H3 was an SUV built between 2006 and 2010 by Hummer. The H3T was a pickup variant only available for two of those years. It was a popular concept a few years before it ever went on sale – but by the time it did the market didn’t care. Only 5,680 were made and I have never seen a single one.


2. 2011-2014 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet

2011_Nissan_Murano_CrossCabriolet_--_10-28-2011

I think this easily qualifies as the most bizarre vehicle on this list. It’s probably the most bizarre vehicle produced by a major automobile manufacturer in quite some time. I’m not sure how many of these were built but I’ve only ever seen two: both driven by women in their mid-50s.


1. 2011 Saab 9-4x

1280px-Saab_9-4X_--_04-08-2011

Here’s the unicorn. Before General Motors kicked Saab to its knees and shot it point blank in the head, they introduced the 9-4x. It’s basically a Cadillac SRX that was produced in Mexico for its Swedish cousin. It went on sale literally right before the brand was shuttered. Only about 500 of these were made. I’ve actually seen one in my tiny hometown. But it’s easily the rarest car on here, and thus why it is #1.

3000GT Convertible

1992 Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4 Convertible Conversion

Offered by Mecum | Kansas City, Missouri | April 26, 2013

1992 Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR-4 Convertible Conversion

The 3000GT was the coolest car Mitsubishi ever built – and yes, that includes the Evos. They were built from 1990 through 2001 and the competitive set through those years included the Toyota Supra, Nissan 300ZX and Mazda RX-7.

But there was never a factory convertible offered on the 3000GT. There were, however, conversions available from convertible masters ASC (American Sunroof Corporation), whose name was a little misleading as they tended to chop the entire roof off instead of just making sunroofs. Anyway, the ASC convertibles were only available for the 1995 and 1996 model years. And they were retractable hardtops.

So what gives here with this rag top car? Well let’s start with the fact that it is a VR-4 – the king hell version of the 3000GT. What the VR-4 model got you was 4-wheel-drive with a 296 horsepower 3.0-liter twin turbo V-6. Pretty desirable among these cars. But someone (Mecum’s description says “Californian R. Strahan” but I have no idea what that refers to) lopped the roof off and installed a soft top. And it looks well done. It looks so good, that I’m pretty bummed Mitsubishi never offered the option from the factory.

This is a 23,000 mile original car. 3000GTs have not held their price as well as Supras and RX-7s. They, with the 300ZX, have fallen off a bit, but the nice ones can still command a premium. And this is a nice one. $15,000 or slightly more doesn’t sound unreasonable at all. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $14,500.