Yes, Somebody Actually Turbo-ed A First Gen Pajero

Remember a time when tuners didn’t just throw a tune and an exhaust on and call it a day? 

Imthishan Giado

BBR turbo Pajero 1

Here’s something you’ve probably never heard of: the turbo Pajero, from the mid to the late 1980s.

Known as the Mitsubishi Shogun in the UK, it was offered by a tuning outfit called BBW – now known as BBR. Losing the W in the the name, BBW moved on to successfully tuning Mazdas for the past few decades.

But back in the day, using a single turbo, they managed to up the output of Mitsubishi’s sturdy but not very exciting 2.6 liter “Astron” four cylinder from just under 100bhp to nearly 190bhp! With the right head work, they could coax 240bhp out of the engine – this was a lot for the late 80s, mind you.

Also fitted: lowered suspension, more road biased wheels and tyres. No changes to the factory four speed manual or transfer case. It was really meant to be a fast road cruiser, rather than an off-road demon. Something to surprise a Range Rover at the lights, rather than take on a Raptor in the dunes. 

Here’s UK DJ Dave Lee Travis, looking slightly quizzical next to his one.

BBR turbo Pajero 22

Did any make it to the Middle East? Unlikely but you never know. In any case, they didn’t make that many; some sources suggest that less than 400 were ever made, and certainly less than a handful exist today. The 80s weren’t a great time for rust protection and the Shogun was no better than the rest in this regard. Especially in a perpetually wet country like the UK, which is the only market in which this Shogun/Pajero was ever sold.

Orphaned unusual cars like this are endlessly fascinating to me. More so than the latest gazillion horsepower factory special. It was emblematic of a time when even the humblest off-roader could be improved to euro-beating spec, if you could furnish the cash. I miss this spirit, the plucky tuners who flourished so brightly if briefly, and most of all, the customers who dared to be different. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.