IMG00020_4a989fbf4b3a2-lightboxThe test subject was in Dunedin, about 2/3 of the way down New Zealand’s South Island. I was in Auckland, up the top of the North Island. Yes, I could have had the car freighted to me, but what is the point of living in the best driving road country in the world if you are going to have your new road-rocket delivered? So I took a few days off and went to fetch it.

The car had been bought sight unseen off the internet. The vendor claimed he had just acquired it from a school mistress whose husband bought her a new Evo every time the model changed, and that it had never so much as hit the rev limiter. He was sorry to let it go but it was just costing too much to run (at the time fuel prices had just peaked). It seemed a likely story, so I called the Dunedin Misubishi dealer and asked if they knew the car. The service manger’s first words were “you wouldn’t believe it, the car was sold new to a school mistress who just drove it to school every day…”. I more or less hung up the phone there and then and did the deal with the vendor.

I collected it from Christchurch (half way up the South Island), where the owner had delivered it to my mother’s house. It was as described.

A few days later, I set off for Auckland. The weather was terrible, but that just gave me an excuse to try the Active Center Differential (ACD) setting for gravel (and wet tarmac). The trip up was fantastic. Empty, fast roads, and one of the quickest cars ever, set loose in the real world.  I even managed 10km/litre, which is totally acceptable.

The highlight: I caught a Bullit spec Mustang on a long straight up a hill. The driver looked like he was doing much the same as me, but at a third the pace. Which in my view defeats the point of that kind of old car. If McQueen was alive today and looking for a hard as nails streetfighter for working man money, an Evo would be on his short list.

Anyway, the journey was awesome, as was the car. Lots of feedback and response, and so, so fast. In New Zealand they take your licence off you on the side of the road if you get caught at over 140kmh, and my line of work means an appearance in the dock rather than at Counsel’s table is out of the question, so the car was usually on a short leash. But New Zealand is pretty empty in places…

So the car made it to Auckland over two phenomenal days. But it was always going to be great on empty, open roads, with only a driver on board. The much harder test was to come: living with it day to day. And the delivery (yes, the baby) was not far away.




Nick Flanagan