Before the Lancer Evolution, Mitsubishi’s AWD turbo rally warrior was the Galant VR-4. Starting in 1988 and until the launch of the Lancer Evo, Mitsubishi campaigned the Galant VR-4 in World Rally Championship races across Europe, earning the triple-diamond marque an early reputation for ruggedness and advanced technology. Now, an example with actual racing provenance can be yours, as the winner of the 1990 Rallye Côte d’Ivoire Bandama goes up for auction.
To homologate the car to FIA requirements, Mitsubishi built 5,000 road cars. Those became darlings of the tuner crowd and remain sought-after examples of Bubble Era Japan. Mitsubishi imbued it with all the cutting-edge tech of the day, including a 4-valve-per-cylinder engine, all-wheel-drive, 4-wheel steering, and anti-lock brakes.
Devotees of Mitsubishi are likely familiar with the Galant VR-4’s rallying exploits, but here’s a brief refresher. It racked up 14 WRC podium finishes during its active years and won three races overall, Finland’s 1000 Lakes Rally and Britain’s RAC Rally in 1989, and the Rally Sweden in 1991.
From 1990 to 1992, the Galant VR-4 won Africa’s Rallye Côte d’Ivoire three consecutive times. It was one of the toughest rallies in the world, but unfortunately from 1982 onward it was not part of the official WRC’s manufacturers’ championship calendar. That means victories by Patrick Tauziac and Claude Papin in 1990, as well as Kenjiro Shinozuka and John Meadows in 1991-92, counted towards individual drivers’ points totals but could not earn Mitsubishi itself any points.
The car offered for auction by RM Sotheby’s is the actual winner of the 1990 Rallye Côte d’Ivoire. After the race, according to the listing, Mitsubishi simply left the car in Ivory Coast, as shipping it home was a cost they did not want to bear. The car found its way to a local dealership, where it sat before being discovered by the current owner. This owner brought it home to France, where it was restored.
Though it may not be an official Works car, it includes documentation confirming it is a homologation special prepared at Matter Motosport, the shop that prepared the original Works machines. The car is being offered without reserve on May 12, 2018 at RM Sotheby’s Monaco auction. The expected sale price is listed as €90,000 to €130,000 (approximately USD $110,000 to 160,000). Maybe Mitsubishi should buy it and add it to their collection. See the listing on RM Sotheby’s website.
Images: RM Sotheby’s