I don’t think there was never really any plan to create what we now call our “heritage fleet”. We had acquired, mostly through being contacted by devoted owners or dealers who recognised the rarity of a particular car, a small fleet of interesting vehicles in various states of repair, and over the years these have been stored in various locations around the business and deployed on a somewhat ad hoc basis.
When I joined the company in 2016 I made it one of my missions to not only pull these cars out of their various storage nooks and put them to regular use but also to grow the fleet to represent the company’s diverse and fascinating back catalogue. Heritage cars had become quite a thing with the media in recent time and as a classic car lover I simply couldn’t wait to get these cars out into the sunlight. When I did, the news was good: Fortunately, because Mitsubishi is full of petrol heads, the cars already collected were superb.
A lovely, eclectic mix of interesting cars were on hand, but they are not fully representative of the brand’s broad history and certainly not reflective of Mitsubishi Motors’ current range of vehicles which is predominantly SUVs and 4x4 vehicles. What we desperately needed were some original Shoguns and L200s – the bread and butter products that built Mitsubishi’s reputation and presence not only in the UK but around the world.
Mk1 Shoguns are rare these days. Sold from 1982 to 1991, UK cars tended to be worked hard in rural areas in all conditions and have long succumbed to the ravages of time. This was especially true of the Shogun I wanted –the entry-level 2.6-litre petrol version in red and on white steel wheels.
Out of the blue one Friday morning in early June, I was made aware^ of the car you see here for sale on a popular auction website. I was immediately intrigued: It appeared to be a UK car. It was the colour and spec I wanted (our early brochures all feature a red three door), with the right engine and in what seemed to be reasonably solid condition. It was located on the other side of London, mind, and nobody was available to take a look at it before the auction ended on the Sunday so it fell to me to trek up to the big smoke to see if this Shogun was worth rescuing.
The chap selling the car was doing so as part of an estate liquidation and, by his own admission, knew nothing about cars. He also seemed to be rather unfamiliar with auction websites because he was pretty browned off of being asked questions by all the digital tyre kickers out there. Once he was clear that I was genuinely interested, the information poured forth – this was bought new by the owner back in 1987 and spent most of its life in London, being used occasionally for towing a caravan and bringing a small trailer of garden clippings to the recycling centre. In 31 years it had covered 99,000 miles but it didn’t show too much sign of wear and tear. That is, after all, only 3,200 miles a year. And while the service history wasn’t well catalogued it was clear this was a car that had been well cared for all its life. Moreover, it was also completely unmodified and complete – it even came complete with its original bottle jack and accompanying tools and its AM/MW radio – no fancy FM or cassette decks here, mate!
By the end of my inspection I was practically giddy, my enthusiasm had even rubbed off on the vendor. All I needed to do now was go home and make sure I didn’t get outbid.
On the day the Shogun came to light I had dashed down to our finance director and asked for a budget of £3k, feeling fairly confident I’d come in under budget on Sunday night. The highest bid was at that stage still in three figures but by the time Sunday afternoon had rolled around it had jumped to £1,800 which started to make me a smidge nervous. It was dawning on me I might struggle to win this for £3,000 after all. At the same time, I knew nobody else had bothered to go look at it and having been involved in a few auctions like these in the past I was reasonably sure there would be a limit to how far someone else would be willing to commit to a car they hadn’t even clapped eyes on yet. So I set my limit £3,371 and, with less than a minute to go, I hit “Bid”. The number jumped to £2,626.26 and paused for a moment, before the clock counted down and the screen went blank.
I wait. And wait. And wait. And then the screen flickers back to life: “Congratulations, you win this item”. Woo-hoo, the lovely Shogun is ours!! And how much did I spend? Believe it or not, it cost us exactly £3,371 and, even more shockingly, I only won it by a tenner. Brinksmanship at its nail-biting finest.
So that’s how E170PEA our MK1 Mitsubishi Shogun came to join our heritage fleet. Never again will we be lacking such an important model at key events and I literally cannot wait for fans, show goers and the press to lay their eyes on this simple, unassuming and glorious machine.
Conor Twomey, GM PR
Stay tuned for an update on its restoration and public debut soon!
*It doesn’t have 125 miles on the clock anymore
^Huge thanks to our Global Product Communications General Manager, Tom Barnard, for the tip off