Home » Friday Odd Couple: 1974 Chevrolet Corvette vs 1995 Mitsubishi Pajero Mini

Friday Odd Couple: 1974 Chevrolet Corvette vs 1995 Mitsubishi Pajero Mini

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Good morning, Autopians, and happy Friday! Today we’re mixing it up and cross-shopping two cars that no one in their right mind would ever compare. Conveniently, I’ve been told by quite a number of people that I’m not in my right mind, so that works out well. First, however, let’s go back to yesterday’s garden of air-cooled delights:

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Oof. Sorry, Porsche fans, but the consensus is that the 914 is just too much work to bring back, jackstand collection or no. Besides, Sixties vans are just too cool to ignore.

Right then: Today we have a faded American icon, and a cheeky Japanese import. What do they have in common? Four wheels, two doors, and… well, that’s about it, really. But hey, I’ve seen marriages work with less. Let’s dig in, and see if we can find some more common ground.

1974 Chevrolet Corvette – $8,000

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Engine/drivetrain: 350 cubic inch overhead-valve V8, three-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Kingston, WA

Odometer reading: 51,000 miles

Runs/drives? “Flawlessly,” the ad says

In 1974, to meet new Federal bumper standards, Chevy replaced the Corvette’s svelte chrome bumpers with a giant soft piece of rubber over an impact-absorbing structure. Purists howled in protest, but really, the Vette wore its five-mile-per-hour bumpers better than a lot of other cars. Apparently, however, when the rubber cover deteriorates, the remaining face is the stuff of nightmares. Just look at that image above; it’s easily one of the most disturbing visages I’ve ever seen on a car.

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This is a much better view of this classic Corvette, and you can enjoy it right away, because according to the seller, it runs like a top. Its 350 V8 was rebuilt in 2008 and has barely been driven since. Hopefully it has had enough exercise to keep its juices flowing, otherwise some rubber parts beyond the bumpers might need replacing.

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The car is filthy in the photos, but I think it’s actually in better shape than it first appears. Mechanically it seems to be top-notch, and there doesn’t appear to be any body damage beyond the disintegrated bumpers, and the interior looks quite nice. Mid-year C3s aren’t the most desirable of Corvettes to collectors, but that keeps them affordable. And this one, just before catalytic converters, still has a bit of power behind it.

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Now the question is: Do you do something about that scary face, or leave it as-is as a conversation starter?

1995 Mitsubishi Pajero Mini Turbo – $7,499

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Engine/drivetrain: Turbocharged 659cc DOHC inline 4, five-speed manual, part-time 4WD

Location: Tacoma, WA

Odometer reading: 77,000 kilometers

Runs/drives? Runs great!

Yes, the Autopian obsession with all things kei continues. Japan’s low-tax microcar classification has yielded some real gems that never officially reached the US. They’re really too small for US roads, and they’re noisy and harsh at higher speeds, but they’re just so damn cute that we overlook that. And they don’t get much cuter than the Mitsubishi Pajero Mini. Just look at that little bull-bar with the driving lights in it! And the little hood scoop!

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Under that scoop is quite a serious little engine. Kei car engines are limited to 660 cubic centimeters and 63 “official” horsepower [Editor’s Note: Sometimes it’s listed as 64 hp? – JT] , but within those limitations, there is a lot of freedom. The Pajero Mini’s four-cylinder engine features five valves per cylinder, a turbocharger, and an intercooler (hence the hood scoop) to provide the power to all four wheels through a five-speed stick. The Pajero Mini has a dual-range transfer case as well, giving it at least a possibility of going off-road.

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The seller says they have used this tiny SUV for commuting, and it does fine, although it’s “a bit frantic” on the highway. It needs new tires, and the door panels are de-laminating, but otherwise it’s in fine shape. Parts for an oddball import like this might be hard to come by, but if you use it as a weekend toy instead of a daily commuter, it shouldn’t need much.

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With so few miles (sorry, kilometers) on it, this little off-roader should last quite a while yet, as long as you can avoid becoming a hood ornament on some inattentive bro-dozer.

Okay, so this is an apples-and-oranges comparison. But they’re both running and driving, they’re both around the same price, and I think they’re both cool. So there we are. Which one strikes your fancy on this Friday morning?

(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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55 Responses

  1. I feel dirty just looking at that Vette, but it has my vote. Even though I absolutely know better, the C3 is one of my favorite cars. What can I say, taste isn’t always rational…

  2. This one is tough for me. The Pajero is exactly my style: small, underpowered, and slightly odd. But, it’s way too pretty for me to have. With a straight body and good paint I couldn’t take it places I want a real 4wd for. The Vette is certainly shabby enough for me, but I definitely prefer the chrome bumper cars. And it’s an automatic. And overpriced. If I could talk the seller down $2500-3000, I take it, keep the appearance the same, and either a) taller chunky tires & a Gambler 500-type rig or 2) shorter wide tires & suspension bits for an autocrosser/deranged street-racer menace

  3. I’ve never owned a ‘vette, but everything I’ve heard about them is that they were terribly put-together. Despite the engine work, I can imagine all kinds of problems developing with this one in relatively short order (given that I own cars to drive them and not to have them sit in a driveway). That said, it’s a Corvette and therefore I want it even if it makes me miserable. A reliable, efficient, useful, sensible little box on wheels is no competition.

  4. Man I hate corvettes and any car in the 70s sucks. Dried out fiberglass is a pain. No doubt i am going for the … What a kiddy car? Sign me up for the vet. It may be cute it isnt a car its a toy.

  5. I’m biased, as I own a Mini. Really, when you look past the underpowered-ness of it, it’s got 4wd, won’t piss fluids on the floor, and will get more attention at a Cars and Coffee.

  6. Oh man, I want them both. I can cosplay as a mild mannered accountant who drives the sensible and economical little Mitsu to work during the week, and go all Mad Max on the weekends with some spikes on an old leather jacket and that freaky beaked ‘vette.

    The more I look at the ‘vette the more I think you could really rock that patina, join the local Corvette club and horrify the low miles professionally detailed this is one of 8 made in Chernobyl Green with Brown interior and the New Balance appearance package crowd.

  7. I HAD TO vote vette because when I saw the ugliness my sick brain jumped to an in no way logical end point. Stiffen the frame, aftermarket suspension and brakes, LS swap with a manual and do NOTHING to the exterior or interior. The absolute dissonance of a sleeper Corvette is squatting in my brain now.

  8. Everything you need to know about the corvette is in the pic looking in the driver’s door – rust in the sills.

    Anyone who does not want to do rust mitigation and body work need not apply.

    Teeny 4×4 with a 5spd feels like the better car for the money.

    (And I *like* C3’s, too!)

  9. I like them both, but the Vette is priced about $3k too high. They made a bajillion of them, and most of them still exist. They are not rare, and only the very exceptional ones are valuable.

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