The Pajero isn’t just one of the longest-running Mitsubishi models out there, but also one of the longest running SUVs still in production going into the 2020’s. Unfortunately for those looking to buy a brand-new Pajero, the opportunity in 2021 could be the last, since Mitsubishi announced that the 2021 model year was to be the final one for the Pajero SUV. Below you can learn more about this iconic Japanese SUV, it’s mini-SUV partner, the Pajero Junior, the racing heritage behind the Pajero name, and just what makes the Pajero such a great candidate for Japanese imports for sale in the UK.
Here are some must-know stats showing the development of the Mitsubishi Pajero over time:
Key Stats for the First-Generation Mitsubishi Pajero (1982)
Wheelbase: 2,695mm (5-door); 2,350mm (3-door)
Length: 4,650mm (5-door); 3,994mm (3-door)
Height: Max. 1,890mm (5-door); 1,849mm (3-door)
Curb Weight: N/A
Key Stats for the Second-Generation Mitsubishi Pajero (1991)
Wheelbase: 2,725mm (5-door); 2,420mm (3-door)
Length: 4,740mm (5-door); 3,994mm (3-door)
Width: 1,674 (‘92-‘97)-1,775mm (‘97-‘99)
Height: Max. 1,864-1895mm (5-door); 1,849mm (3-door)
Curb Weight: N/A
Key Stats for the Third-Generation Mitsubishi Pajero (1999)
Wheelbase: 2,779-2,786mm (5-door); 2,545mm (3-door)
Length: 4,798-4,831mm (5-door); 4,219mm (3-door)
Width: 1,877-1900mm (5-door); 1,877 (3-door)
Height: Max. 1,816-1,885mm (5-door); 1,844-1,857mm (3-door)
Curb Weight: 2,060kg (5-door)
Key Stats for the Fourth-Generation Mitsubishi Pajero (2006)
Wheelbase: 2,780mm (5-door); 2,545mm (3-door)
Length: 4,900 (5-door); 4,385mm (3-door)
Height: Max. 1,890-1,900mm (5-door); 1,840-1,880mm (3-door)
Curb Weight: 2,165kg (5-door)
Mitsubishi Pajero Background
This SUV gets its name from the Pampas cat, or more precisely from the Latin names of one of its subspecies, Leopardus Pajeros. If this was to reflect the quickness of the Pajero SUV, then it was aptly named. The Pajero has an admirable history of participation in rallies, especially the infamous Dakar Rally, where it has been the winning car 12 times, and grabbed as much as 80 percent of podium placement in the 4-year period 2001-2005. These records have not subsequently been beaten.
Mitsubishi were toying with practical and durable SUVs all the way back in the 1930s, when they create the PX33 prototype, originally designed for use by the Japanese government and military. At the Tokyo Motor Show in 1973, Mitsubishi presented their first-ever prototype of the Pajero, and in 1982 it went into production.
It didn’t take the Pajero long to start racking up awards at the arduous Paris Dakar Rally. The first attempt was made in 1983, but they were outdone by an impressive Mercedes-Benz 280 GE, among others. In 1984, Andrew Cowan got the first top-3 placement, coming third in the race with his Pajero, taking it 11,000km.
In 1985, and still only at their third attempt overall, they took both first and second place, leaving a Toyota FJ 60 trailing in third. The age of the Pajero had come. More victories followed until the Pajero ceased its use after the 2007 event.
Mitsubishi Pajero: Background Continued
First Generation Mitsubishi Pajero (1982-1991)
The 1980s were an exciting decade for much of the world, and besides their victories in the Paris Dakar Rally, the Pajero racked up more wins in the Australasian Safari, and the Northern Forest race in Russia. The Pajero production model may not have been quite as exciting, but was still an interesting choice for a world just getting to grips with its new fascination with SUVs.
The original model came with either a hard or canvas top, and featured 3 ending options, a 2.0L, another 2.0L with turbo, or a 2.6L. More were added over time, including a 3.0L V6 petrol engine, and even turbo diesel engines from 1984. It started small as a three-door SUV, but then a model with a longer wheelbase was released, which boosted seating capacity to 7 people in total.
Second Generation Mitsubishi Pajero (1991-1999)
This is the one that for the UK was called the Shogun, and so British drivers might recognize it. The Pajero second generation debuted in Japan in 1991m and featured the same choice of 3- and 5-door options. The larger body option came with different roof options as well. This time, the biggest engine options included a 3.5L V6 petrol and a 2.8L diesel inline-4.
This Pajero welcomed some innovative driving additions, including “Super Select” 4-wheel drive, which was known as ActivTrak 4WD in some markets. Other technologies included multi-mode ABS, electronic shock absorbers (a first for any Japanese SUV) and more. Development through the 1990s saw more power, more additions, more engineering innovations in drive modes and suspension. It was also designed to look a little rounder, softer, and therefore more appealing to the townies who by this point were discovering that SUVs were not just for farmers.
Mitsubishi Delica: Background Continued
Third Generation Mitsubishi Pajero (1999-2006)
It was during this generation that the Pajero took on a sportier look with its lower, wider stance. The unique design of the Mitsubishi RISE reinforcement system made this Pajero among the most praised car for its durability and strength in crash situations. It was also the first generation to receive rack and pinion steering.
Engines continued to get bigger, this time with the addition of a 3.8L petrol and a 3.2L diesel option. Transmissions remained roughly the same: 4- or 5-speed automatic, as well as a 5-speed manual. The 3.8L engine featured a rather interesting little gadget, the Electronic Throttle Valve, which turned the Pajero into a real bona fide road cruiser.
Fourth Generation Mitsubishi Pajero (2006-2021)
The latest generation emerged in September 2006 at the Paris Motor Show, ready for the next model year. Once more, there were no V8 engines among the selections, making it rather unique among modern full-size SUVs, many of which now try to distinguish themselves by having a powerful V8 engine. The Japanese tend to focus on efficiency and function, rather than pure engine size.
The current generation has received a number of facelifts and upgrades to become increasingly stylish. The year 2015 was a big one for modernizing the exterior style, including big updates to the front grille; accented wheel arches; neater, cleaner lines as well as receiving LED daytime running lights. The interior wasn’t missed either, with piano black accents, brushed metal detailing, wood grain trims and more.
Mitsubishi Pajero Junior
One couldn’t possibly write about the JDM models of the Mitsubishi Pajero without mentioning the truly unique and sought-after Mitsubishi Pajero Junior. This short-lived, but beloved mini-SUV enjoyed a short production run from 1995 to 1998, and was sold only as a 3-door SUV model.
Key Stats for the Mitsubishi Pajero Junior (1995)
Curb Weight: 980kg
In Japan, the Pajero Junior was one of the cleverest and best ways to enjoy an SUV drive while not being seemingly taxed to death for it. The small 1.1L engine and much smaller dimensions compared to its full-size Pajero brother placed the Pajero Junior into a mercifully low bracket of tax.
Mitsubishi Pajero Junior Continued
In all, five variants of the Pajero Junior were created, the ZR-I, ZR-II, the McTwist, the Lynx, and the Flying Pug. Some interesting names among those, the first two of which were regular models, and the remaining three built as limited editions. The first ZR-I was small, but packed a luxurious punch. It featured air conditioning as standard, as well as ABS, SRS airbag, electric front windows and door mirrors, and even keyless entry!
The ZR-II was essentially the same, but with some added extras, most notably a suite of digital instruments such as an altimeter, temperature gauge, clock and even a compass. The limited editions like the Flying Pug were stylized with retro looks like round headlamps and an enlarged grille reminiscent of a Rolls-Royce. In more Japanese terms, it was a nod to the retro stylings of eccentric car brand Mitsuoka, who have built their entire enterprise on taking what the see as mundane passenger cars from companies like Nissan and “zhuzh it up” with some classic Anglicized old-world features from brands like Jaguar and Bentley.
Attraction as a JDM Import
Both the Pajero and Pajero Junior continue to be popular choices among JDM enthusiasts. People looking to buy Japanese imports, 4×4 vehicles to be precise, love the Pajero cars for several important reasons:
Models from the 80s and 90s continue to be popular because of their undeniable racing DNA. The fact is that while the production models for street driving weren’t exactly the same, the changes made for the rally versions also weren’t dramatic or akin to Frankenstein-like modifications. The Pajero was and is a natural racer and a natural off-roader.
Like many Japanese imports for sale in the UK, buyers are consistently surprised by how even the earlier models of the Pajero feature such advanced engineering and other additions. The Pajero, for instance, was long built with a locking differential and body-on-frame construction. There was even coil-spring suspension, something which some modern trucks in 2020 still don’t have! And these are just a few things.
One Of The Gems of Japanese Imports
How do you fancy spending a few measly thousand and getting your hands on the utter gems of Japanese imports? Well, you can if you go for the Pajero or Pajero Junior. The kind of “classic rugged” look is popular again, and with other SUV makers even creating off-road vehicles that look refined and sophisticated, some people are just craving a bit of old-world power and grit.
Explore our range of Mitsubishi Pajero and Pajero Junior SUVs and find the perfect one to make an addition to your collection. You’ll be surprised at the treasures waiting to be discovered by the right buyer.