Friday, 16 February 2024 - 12:30pm

WATCH: Flying high

3 min read

News article photos (4 items)

The restored V3000.
Museum Director Rowan Carroll and Loyd Robinson standing by the restored car.
Pulling back the cover on the restored vehicle.

Police’s legendary ‘Flying Wedge’ is up and running again after a loving refurb by an old mate.

The 1988 Mitsubishi V3000 – part of the New Zealand Police Museum collection – was unveiled yesterday (Thursday 15 February) in all its restored and polished retro glory.

The work was done by recently retired Mitsubishi Technical Services Manager Lloyd Robinson after the motor company offered to restore the vehicle.

Lloyd was involved in the original design of the V3000 patrol vehicles in the 1980s and was on the production line in Porirua when they were being built.

The vehicle was a patrol car for the Ministry of Transport’s Traffic Safety Service (TSS) and rolled over to Police when the organisations merged in 1992. It was retired in 1994 after a stint in training at the Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC).

Last year, Mitsubishi Motors NZ asked if they could view their vehicles in the Museum collection and as a result offered to restore the better of the collection's two V3000s.

In October, the car was delivered to Lloyd, who had worked for Mitsubishi for 42 years. He spent four months stripping, cleaning and rebuilding it – a process charted through social media updates via the Police Museum Facebook page and elsewhere.

In December, the engine ran for the first time in 12 years, and last month the vehicle left the shed under its own power for the first time. It has now been returned to near-original condition.

External and internal details of the restoried V3000.

Museum Director Rowan Carroll says without Mitsubishi’s offer to restore the vehicle the project would have been beyond their wildest dreams.

“Of course Lloyd having been there at the time, at the original fitout, and him wanting to actually do the work on it, has meant the world to us,” says Rowan.

Police loved the V3000, she says – “it was so different from anything else they’d had in the fleet before... and there were a lot of fights about who was going to be driving them.”

Also at the unveiling at Mitsubishi Motors at Todd Park, Porirua, was Inspector Brian Yanko, National Fleet Service Group Manager.

He well remembers the V3000 he drove as a new constable with Naenae Traffic Unit in 1993.

“It was a fantastic car – exceptionally quick and very responsive,” he says.

“You had to have the death grip on the steering wheel at times just because of the torque and energy that was coming out of those front wheels.”

Brian says part of his current role is to work with the Police Museum to preserve the Police fleet’s heritage, and with partners including Mitsubishi Motors. Bringing the Museum and Mitsubishi teams together led to the refurb project.

Lloyd describes the project as “quite a delightful journey”. The car was in good condition at first glance but closer examination showed there was a lot to be done.

First job was to dismantle and clean the fuel system to make sure the engine would run. One of the worst jobs was getting baked-on brake fluid off the hubcaps, which required days of soaking in solvent.

“I really enjoyed the challenge,” he says.

For their part, Mitsubishi Motors was proud to have been part of the project, says Chief Operating Officer Tony Johnston, and were proud that it would now be on display for the foreseeable future in the foyer at Todd Park.

Despite the car starting its career with the TSS, the refurb has retained the Police livery applied after the merger. It is, says Rowan, a symbol of a significant moment in Police history.

Senior Constable Tony ‘Billy’ Billingham sitting behind the wheel of stationary V3000.
Senior Constable Tony ‘Billy’ Billingham, former TSS officer and current member of the RNZPC Driver Training team, behind the wheel of the stationary V3000 for a photo.

About the V3000

🚔 The V3000 was a New Zealand-only model introduced in 1988, built in Porirua as a development of the Mitsubishi Sigma.
🚔 With a grunty three-litre V6 engine and relatively light frame, it had a reputation for being quick off the mark.
🚔 A famous TV advert featured a V3000 giving a tow to a broken-down Australian military vehicle. The punchline ‘more tow than an Aussie tank’ was a thinly disguised dig – actually, not disguised at all – at the Australian-built six-cylinder competition. You can still watch the advert on YouTube.