Some skunkworks projects never really see the light of day, instead created for solely for company use. The Mitsubishi Grandis VIP Limousine is one of those cars, but we feel it deserves a public introduction. Daljinder Nagra is your guide.
Of all the performance-bent engineering marvels we've seen delivered by the skunkworks of their respective manufacturers, the Mitsubishi Grandis VIP Limousine is different in that it hasn't been created to showcase the company's prowess to the world's media or take up space on a glittery show stand.
Indeed, it's unlikely that many have even heard of it. Instead, the VIP Limousine was a bespoke project created at the request of the company's former managing director Jim Tyrrell to ease the burden of running the UK arm of a multinational carmaker. Finding himself on the road more and more, and fed up with the frustrating process of tapping an email into a BlackBerry, he teamed up with Mitsubishi Special Vehicle Operations (MSVO) and third-party vehicle customisation outfit Designer Vision to create an executive express worthy of 'Pimp My Ride'.
Darren Hughes, manager of MSVO, told us: "We designed the VIP limo as a mobile office so our directors could be more productive when away on meetings across the company. Rather than them having to work on a tiny smartphone or computer, it's fitted with all the office furnishings anyone could reasonably need."
"We also built a 25-inch flat screen monitor into the sliding tinted glass divider, which you can hook a laptop up to,' said Hughes. 'Though it can also be used to watch DVDs on the 10-disc auto changer."
And to ensure it doesn't feel completely like a utilitarian office cubicle, the interior was slathered in lambskin rugs and new upholstery. The cabin is fitted with a refrigerator and the rear cabin lighting has been replaced by more welcoming halogen spotlights.
However, the Grandis VIP Limousine is much more than a cosmetic effort, according to Hughes: "Because we removed the middle bench of seats, passengers are sat over the rear axle, which made for quite a hard ride. We upgraded the standard suspension for air dampers, which give the limousine ride we were aiming for."
For the ultimate in wafting, the standard soundproofing was also upgraded and extensively applied across the body, including the roof. Despite utilising the talents of an external company for this project, MSVO has extensive experience in building (albeit less opulent) bespoke creations for its diverse range of fleet customers.
"We've created everything from ventilated boxes for chainsaws for utility companies, through to gun safes for police force armed response units," elaborates Hughes.
"But we'd happily consider a commission from a private owner looking to customise their car. The Shogun in particular is a car well suited to this kind of makeover."
So, will we be seeing anything similar from the manufacturer? "The VIP Limo is still going strong, being used by the company directors, but it won't last forever," says Hughes. "There's nothing concrete in the pipeline at the moment but it will need replacing, so I can definitely see us doing something like this again."
Model: Mitsubishi Grandis VIP Limousine
Price: £70,000 (est)
Engine: 2.4-litre, four-cylinder
Power: 162bhp, 215Nm
Max speed: 118mph
0-60mph: 11.7 seconds