Amphibious Mitsubishis of the '80s and '90s Are Rad As Hell

Photo: Mitsubishi
Truck YeahThe trucks are good!

Pardon me while I breathe heavily into a paper bag, but I’m only just now learning that there were at least three Mitsubishi Pajero amphibious off-road concept vehicles made in the 1980s and ’90s. And yes: one of them was in a Jackie Chan movie.

You can count on me diving deeper (water pun) into the backstory of these odd SUVs soon, but this ancient news is too exciting not to share immediately. And I’m kind of hoping somebody with knowledge of the project will see this blog post and hit me up with some details.

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Anyway, first up, this kooky clip popped into one of the Mitsubishi enthusiasts boards I lurk in. Sound-on highly recommended:

There are two first-generation Pajeros (known stateside as Monteros) in that clip splashing around to a wicked WaveRace 64-style soundtrack. I can’t tell if there’s anything “official” about the builds, but somebody clearly spent a lot of time and a decent chunk of change to execute two iterations of the “Pajero as a boat” idea.

One of them has an actual boat hull, like the few other amphibious cars that have existed, but the first one in that clip is a little more interesting to me: it actually appears to have an inflatable raft-hull that gets deployed for crossing deep water. Amazing!

Cursory research on amphibious experiments with Mitsubishi vehicles from there brought me to the Mitsubishi Field Guard: a sleek and decidedly aquatic-looking concept car trotted out for the 1993 Tokyo Motor Show.

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Screenshot: “Gorgeous” (YouTube)

It was on the cover of the November, 1993 issue of AutoWeek, but maybe if one of you can read Japanese, you can make sense of this character card and share your observations in the comments.

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The Field Guard was also in the 1999 movie Gorgeous, which is on YouTube right now in its entirety (though not in English). But you can get the gist–kind of–from the trailer. Again, you’re going to want your sound on:

Forget cooking up another oddly-named car/SUV crossover, Mitsubishi clearly needs to re-allocate its resources back to boat/SUV crossovers to re-establish itself as a serious player in performance vehicles.

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Hopefully, we’ll be able to circle back to this with a more complete breakdown of the work that brought these swimming Pajeros to life.

Hat tip to Wm and the Montero 4WD Py Facebook group!

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About the author

Andrew P. Collins

Reviews Editor, Jalopnik | 1975 International Scout, 1984 Nissan 300ZX, 1991 Suzuki GSXR, 1998 Mitsubishi Montero, 2005 Acura TL