The Pajero line completes a 40-year history in 2022. Launched in 1982, the Mitsubishi Pajero has become one of the Japanese automaker’s classic and best-selling models. Known for its off-road capabilities and success in rally competitions, Pajero has also produced a series of SUVs over four decades on the market. Take a look at some of the historical fashion events in the past 40 years.
But the Pajero story begins long before the first units were sold. In 1934, the Japanese government ordered meat cars for military use during the pre-World War II tensions. Along with that, Mitsubishi Motors presented the PX33 model. Produced at the shipyards of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the model car was the first in Japan to have all-wheel drive.
The model was also the first to offer direct fuel injection in a diesel engine with a capacity of 6.7 liters and 69-horsepower. However, the Japanese government canceled orders for the model and Mitsubishi kept the PX33 model in its collection, but did not build a car on this project until almost 50 years later, in the early 70s.
Already a concept car, the Mitsubishi Pajero was presented for the first time during the 1973 Tokyo Motor Show. The model was well received by the press and the general public. Despite this, Mitsubishi did not make the concept into a production model right away. It was only in 1978, five years later, that the automaker presented the Pajero II concept, which was already close to what would become a production car.
First Generation: 1982-1990
The final version of the Pajero was presented in October 1981, also during the Tokyo Motor Show. The first units began to be delivered to customers in May of the following year. The car had a 3-door body and three engine options: diesel 2.3 with 84 hp, diesel turbo 2.3 with 95 hp and gasoline 2.0 with 110 hp, with manual or automatic options.
The chosen name refers to a cat called Leopardus pajeros, from the pampas of South America. In 1983, the brand introduced the 5-door Pajero with changes to the suspension system, which provided special adjustments for use on the asphalt or off. There was also a third row of seats. In total, 660,000 units of the first generation model were produced in 8 years.
In 1985 Pajero participated for the first time in the traditional Camel competition, finishing in second place. It was the first time for the Japanese team to participate in the conference. Due to the impact of the results, the Japanese brand launched in 1987 a special series “Pajero Camel Special”, limited to only 150 units. The version did not reach the Brazilian market.
The model had a three-door body painted yellow, a color that refers to the Camel cigarette brand, sponsor of the competition. The Pajero Camel Special was also equipped with various accessories such as a luggage compartment, cowl roofs, special mats and keys, and an aluminum skid plate. The wheels, on the other hand, had a special finish and had “biscuit” tires, more prepared for the long road.
Second Generation: 1991-1999
With more rounded lines and a canvas version – which had a roof section on the removable top – the second generation Mitsubishi Pajero was presented in Japan in January 1991. The model also had a body configuration with 3 or 5 doors and for wheels. . Under the hood, the options were 208 hp 3.0 V6 petrol engines or 125 hp 2.8 Turbo Diesel.
The second generation Mitsubishi Pajero was the first to be officially sold in the Brazilian market, arriving at MMC Automotores do Brasil in 1991. One of the main innovations of this generation was the introduction of a new traction system. Called Super Select 4WD, it allowed the driver to choose the best driving mode based on the type of terrain.
There were four different modes of use: 2H, which sent 100% of the torque to the rear axle only. This situation was better for the use of asphalt, and brought fuel savings. There were also 4H tracks, with permanent four-wheel drive, ideal for a good grip on the ground or even on the pavement during wet conditions; 4HLc, with 50% torque distribution to each axle and 4HLLc, with reduced torque, ideal for heavy off-road conditions.
In 1997, Mitsubishi introduced the Pajero Evolution to the market, designed with the Paris Dakar Rally in mind, within the T3 category. The second generation of Pajero was the most produced in the world. In total, about 1.25 million units came off the assembly lines, also in 8 years of production.
Third Generation: 1999-2006
In 1999, the third generation Mitsubishi Pajero hit the market with a focus on safety. Thanks to the new monocoque chassis design, the model received high marks in crash tests promoted by IIHS, a partner of NCAP. In addition, Mitsubishi also introduced more modern finishing materials in the interior, which brought new upholstery options on the seats and on the dashboard.
Big and wide, the model offered three engine options: 2.5 and 3.2, both diesels, the latter with direct fuel injection, as well as the gasoline V6. The three-door version was used by German driver Jutta Kleinschmidt who, in 2001, was the first and only woman to win the Dakar Rally to date. According to Mitsubishi, about 760,000 units of the third generation Pajero were produced by the brand.
Fourth Generation: 2006-2021
Presented during the 2006 Paris Motor Show, the fourth-generation Mitsubishi Pajero has gained more safety by offering two airbags as standard. The SUV also got new features in the traction system. Named Super Select 2, it offered more off-road capability with Active Stability and Traction Control technology. Under the hood, the fourth-generation Pajero offered a 3.2-liter diesel engine with Common Rail technology and a 3.8-liter V6 gasoline engine with 250 hp. Known in Brazil as the Pajero Full, the model was discontinued in 2021.
Since 1982, the Mitsubishi Pajero has been dominating the rally which is known as the toughest in the world. There were 12 victories, a feat that has not been achieved by any other car to this day. The model has been a reference to facing harsh conditions such as the sand and heat of the African desert, which can exceed 50°C.
In Brazil, the most popular versions of Pajero were the Dakar – which was released on the L200 medium-sized platform – Pajero Full and Pajero TR4, which had a compact size. Currently, the model is sold only in the Sport version, which is based on the image of the L200 Triton Sport. With a seven-passenger capacity and 4×4 appeal, the Pajero Sport is priced from R$367,764 to R$402,888.