Friday, May 15, 2009

King of the Desert

1985 Paris - Alger - Dakar

Running from January 1 -22, the 7th Paris - Algiers - Dakar was planned as the toughest yet, this time with a route of over 14,000 km which would be contested by a massive entry of 503 competitors, 360 of which were in the car/truck section. This time the Mitsubishi Pajero proved even more popular with three such machines entered by Sonauto Mitsubishi and no less than 37 private entries in Pajeros. Cowan was again the team leader along side Patrick Zaniroli in a second machine, this time in the top modified class. From the majestic Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of Paris, the the Mitsubishi team lead by Cowan and his capable navigator Johnstone Syers headed for the much less hospitable climes of the Sahara once again, a barren arena with little sympathy for the weak or unreliable, where the greatest annual motoring battle would be fought. With temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius and the relentless pounding of the rocky desert as the cars hurtled through at high speeds, the "Dakar" represents the ultimate proving ground for any motor vehicle. For the Pajero, this third attempt at the great desert race was simply another chapter in its rapidly growing reputation as the world's toughest high-performance off-road machine. Under the direction of Sonauto Mitsubishi's director Ullrich Brehmer, Cowan and Zaniroli pounded onward to their destination in Dakar, and famous Japanese actor Yohsuke Natsuki learned what it was like away from the stage while contesting the ultimate challenge with Mitsubishi for the first time in the standard version of the Pajero. In the treacherous Tenere desert, the Mitsubishi Pajero grabbed the limelight with Zaniroli taking the lead and Cowan in second. Where all the rest were failing, the Pajero was in a class of its own. After 22 days the survivors reached the welcome, cooling Atlantic breezes of Dakar, and the Mitsubishi pair of Zaniroli and Cowan celebrated a magnificent 1-2 victory in their Pajeros - after just three years, Mitsubishi's amazing off-road machine had finally scored the incredible victory that everyone knew had been coming since it first appeared. There was no doubt now - the Mitsubishi Pajero was the King of the Desert!


This 1:43 diecast is the version of Patrick Zaniroli/ Jean Da Silva (#189) which won 1st place in the 1985 Dakar race ahead of teammate Andrew Cowan. Made by Norev, it has very good details and a nice base too. I am fortunate to have one because its not often I get to see one here in our part of the world. Thanks to my friend Resti for the deal.

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