“The Environment Agency has been a good contract for many years. We build Shoguns and L200s for it with amber lighting, Chapter 8 reflective chevrons on the back, off-road tyres, heated hand wash, that sort of thing. ITV has just ordered four Outlander PHEVs with satellite dishes on top.”You could drive right past M-SVO if you didn’t know it was there, so discreet is the signage outside. Through the sturdy perimeter fenceyou might just spot the unusually high concentration of Mitsubishis, though – almost all of them off-roaders and SUVs, some liveried in full police colours and kitted out with flashing blue light bars. Inside the unit you’ll find eight ramps, a paint booth and bodyshop, plus various fabrication tools, while the yard out back is stuffed full of dozens of 4x4s, all awaiting preparation or delivery.
The department also prepares and maintains Mitsubishi’s fleet and press cars, as well as a collection of heritage vehicles. When we visited the facility, a couple of Evos were being prepped for an event celebrating Mitsubishi’s centenary, while the first ever UK press car, an immaculate white Lancer from 1974, was also being given a once-over. The vehicle that really caught the eye, though, was not really a Mitsubishi at all but a Willys Jeep.
It isn’t restoration capability or vehicle preparation that sets M-SVO apart, though, reckons Hughes. Instead, it’s the division’s experience with the product. Having worked exclusively with Mitsubishis sinceit was formed 15 years ago, M-SVO knows better than anybody else how much racking can be squeezed into the back of an L200, or how much weight can be added to a Shogun before you need to think about upgrading the suspension.
“We never like to say no to a client, unless what they want is unsafe,” Hughes says. “The most specialist thing we do here is dog unit conversions for the police. Those Shoguns take around 80 hours. They have two kennels in the back with air conditioning and lighting.
“The car will come in and will be checked over to make sure it’s working as it should. Then pretty much everything inside gets stripped out, so we can run wires for communications systems from the front to the back. Those wires have got to go in in a very particular way. Then the interior goes in and we fit the light bars. The livery is applied here by a specialist supplier.”