There’s no classic car stamp of approval. No hallowed judge roaming from town to town to denounce some old cars and certify others. It doesn’t work like that. But get together with any group of auto fans and a few common nameplates get thrown around.
Amidst mentions of Mustangs and Camaros, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is unlikely to make that classic car cut – it isn’t exactly old enough. But fast forward 25 to 30 years, and you’d be hard pressed not to include an Evo on the list. Why? Its ability to harass supercars, outright speed, rarity, and impact. Its hardcore knockout looks don’t hurt either.
Mitsubishi first unleashed the Lancer Evolution upon the world in 1992 (US in 2003), and over its subsequent 10 generations it has only become more knife-edged. The 2015 Lancer Evo wallops a sizable 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque from its 4B11T engine, but it’s the elder Evo’s motor that has become a legend.
The turbocharged 4G63T four-cylinder put up with enormous aftermarket boost for well over a decade, earning itself a powerful reputation in the process. Much in the same way fans laud Dodge’s Hemi and Chevrolet’s genealogy of small blocks, Mitsubishi has an icon on its hands with the 4G63T, and people won’t forget. Subaru fans included.
Today’s Evo fits in an interesting position. You wouldn’t call it an especially rare car – they dot dealership lots and you’re never far from someone selling a second hand Evo – but they aren’t an everyday car, especially generations I through VII that never made it stateside… officially. That bodes well in the eyes of collectors.
What also bodes well are one-owner cars. Given the rate at which used Evolutions exchange hands (not uncommon to see five owners on a late model), finding a one-owner in 25 years might be downright impossible. Finding one that’s never been touched by the aftermarket – you’re talking holy grail. The investment bankers of today might be plopping down big bucks on low-mileage ‘60s and ‘70s muscle, but the big time players of tomorrow might want to peruse the Mitsubishi auction lots instead.
Sadly, but rather fittingly for a future classic car, the Mitsubishi Evolution as we know it will be hitting the ‘ol dusty trail. Mitsubishi firmly believes in the future of its high powered plugin drivetrains, as the GC-PHEV concept and XR-PHEV Evolution concepts would suggest, meaning that if the Evo returns, it will likely be very different than the boost monster we know and love.
A send-off of 1,000 ‘Final Edition’ Evolution models was recently announced for the Japanese market, signaling the end of the breed in its home country. I have been told a similar run of 1,600 Lancer ‘Special Action Models’ will make their way to the US by year’s end, featuring “increased performance,” but I was not privy to exact power figures. Sadly.
Time will tell whether the Evolution and all its predecessors go the route of the classic car, but it sure looks a safe bet.
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