A case of mistaken identity: The Para64 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4

The Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 is a car I’ve been wanting for a while. If you read my earlier roundup of 1:64 Mitsubishi rally cars then you’ll know that I had a VR-4-sized hole in the lineup, having never acquired the CM’s version from around a decade ago. When I saw that Para64 was releasing Pentti Airikkala’s 1989 RAC Rally-winning version, I jumped on Tokyo Station and pre-ordered it.

I well remember Airikkala steering the VR-4 to victory in ’89. Mikael Ericsson had scored the car’s first WRC win on the 1000 Lakes (now Rally Finland) earlier in the season and the championship-winning Martini Lancias chose to skip the event, but it was still a surprise when Airikkala – on his first event in the Group A VR-4 – beat the Toyotas.

Some of my Lamley colleagues are already enjoying Para64 models but this is the first one in my collection.

The model itself is excellent for the price – a clean casting, good details, wheels that roll and some nicely done plastic headlights. It’s missing a roof aerial but that doesn’t bother me particularly.

(find Para64 Galant VR-4 on eBay)

Unfortunately, there is one unforgiveable screw-up. Instead of the names of Airikkala and co-driver Ronan McNamee on the side of the car, we have those of Timo Salonen (who seems to have changed nationality to French) and fellow Finn, Voitto Silander. This was the crew aboard another issued version of the Para64 Galant VR-4, the #4 car from the 1991 Monte Carlo Rally. It looks like somebody forgot to update that section of the graphics when they created the set for the 1989 car.

I’m assuming that all the models were printed this way; if yours is different, please let me know in the comments below! It’s disappointing because the memory of Airikkala winning was a big reason for me to buy the model. Airikkala died in 2009 at the age of 64 and the 1989 RAC Rally (now Rally GB) proved to be his only WRC victory.

Looking back through that entry list on the 1989 RAC – more than 150 cars! – brought a smile to my face, though. There are so many familiar names for one reason or another: Carlos Sainz (father of the current Ferrari driver) in the second-placed Celica GT-4; Finnish rally royalty in Kankkunen, Vatanen and Mikkola; M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson coming home first among the 2WD cars, in 10th place; Elfyn Evans’s dad, Gwyndaf, behind him in 11th, with Jimmy McRae next in 12th (Colin was a retirement in another Sierra RS Cosworth); John Haugland in a Skoda, as always, and Russell Brookes, one of my favourite drivers as a kid. I would love one of the many new Sierra castings to appear in his Andrews Heat for Hire colours.

I’ll stop there before I wander off into another 1,000 words of rally nostalgia. As for the model: close, Para64, but no cigar.

(find Para64 on eBay)

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