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It's the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution's birthday*

*sort of. But who cares how tenuous the party is, when the cake looks this good?

Happy 20th birthday, Mitsubishi Evo. Well, happy really specific 20th anniversary, Mitsubishi Evo. On 11 July 2000, the first rally-rep Lancer saloon to be officially imported into the UK landed on our shores.

Until that point we’d had plenty of grey imports of the first five generations of Lancer Evolution, but it wasn’t until the Evo VI arrived at the start of the new millenium that Mitsubishi sold one of the all-time greats in its own showrooms. British cars got better rust protection, a speedometer in MPH, a UK-specific owner’s manual and proper dealer support over cheaper, unofficially procured cars.

If that sounds like an extremely tenuous reason to run a load of pics of an Evo VI Tommi Makinen Edition, you might be right. But do you care? Ogle the pics and try and tell us you care…

The first officially imported car was indeed a red’n’white Tommi, too. The car stuck around for four more generations, its power source never changing from a 2.0-litre turbo, but its output swelling from the 276bhp of the Evo VI to beyond 400bhp in later Evo Xs.

In 15 years, Mitsubishi UK sold 5,728 Lancer Evolutions. When you consider Ford sells that many Fiestas in Britain most months, it’d be easy to conclude the Evo’s beyond niche. But would we have circa-400bhp AWD hot hatches like the Focus RS, Audi RS3 and Mercedes A45 without its existence on UK price lists, and its ensuing transformation of what form ‘accessible performance’ was served up in? We’d debate not. So three cheers for the Evo, however many caveats this particular birthday celebration comes with…

Images: Mark Riccioni

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