In case it wasn't evident already, that glorious era of road racer homologation specials is most certainly behind us. Motorsport rules and regulations have changed, as well as buyer tastes, so the notion of tapping into racing success for the benefit of sales (or image) does seem a little old now. There are still links to be made, and certainly high end manufacturers aren't shy in cashing in on motorsport association, but genuine competition cars for the road belong to the past.
The benefit in their passing as contemporary performance cars is the recognition of homologation lightweights as genuine classics. Who'd have thought just a few years ago, that those bespoilered saloons and coupes causing havoc on the streets would be prized assets in the classic world. They might have been taken better care of then if we'd known...
What that has meant is cars like the Subaru Impreza Turbo, Ford Escort Cosworth and Toyota Celica GT-Four have become ever more valuable. None will ever be coveted for their looks, but for delivering a driving experience unlike anything that had gone before them - and as representations of a really exciting era for fast, almost affordable cars - they are in demand.
Naturally that extends to the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo as well. Its reputation is a little different to the others in the UK, given official imports didn't begin until 1999, yet Tommi Makinen's WRC success before then, plus staggering reception the car received in the UK, meant it wasn't unknown for long.
Now while we all know the Evo story began long before the UK chapter, it's seldom that we get the opportunity over here to explore its JDM early days. Why would UK buyers have gone to the hassle of a personal import when newer, more advanced, even quicker Evos were available here? It's not like the formula changed drastically across the first nine generations, so the relative rarity is understandable.
It makes those Evos all the more special when they do emerge though, like this one. An Evo II from 1994 - so yes, it is 25 in July - it's an RS as well, lighter and more focused and even more desirable to the dedicated few. 'E2 RSN' is an absolute stunner, imported in 2016 and having covered just 35,000 miles in a quarter of a century. There's no rust, no modifications and precious few signs of wear. There will be the usual debates around not using such a great driver's car, but what a find: apparently just 15 Evo IIs of all types are taxed in the UK.
As such, it commands a big price: £22,500 is enough even to buy this Evo X FQ-360 HKS Edition. It's more than twice as much as the other Evo II on PH currently, which might be a better bet for finding out just why Evo dynamics are so revered and why cars of the 90s are now in demand. Because you couldn't actually drive the pricier one much - could you?
For a dedicated Japanese Domestic Market nut, one with a collection of various Skylines, Eunoses, Imprezas and more, this Evo II RS would make a fine addition. 'Unrepeatable' must be overused in classic circles nowadays, but it really is hard to imagine another early Evo existing that's as good as this one. Don't forget, either, that if £22k for an old Evo looks a lot, you're looking at £55k for an old Escort with similar mileage - maybe being less well known is a good thing, after all...
SPECIFICATION - MITSUBISHI LANCER EVO II RS
Engine: 1,997cc, four-cyl turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 260@6,250rpm
Torque (lb ft): 228@3,000rpm
First registered: 1992 (2016 UK)
Recorded mileage: 35,853
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £22,500
See the original advert here.