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The legendary 1988 Mitsubishi V3000 was affectionately known as “the Flying Wedge” for its pep and the wedge shape of the letter V in V3000. PHOTO: NZ POLICE

A meticulously restored 1988 Mitsubishi V3000 patrol car has passed its unveiling with flying colours – much to the delight of former police officers who once drove the zippy model.

The vehicle, which is one of two in the Police Museum’s collection, went on show last month after Mitsubishi Motors spent six months sprucing it up.

Affectionately known as “the Flying Wedge” for its pep and the wedge shape of the letter V in V3000, it was part of the Ministry of Transport (MOT) fleet that came across to Police when the agencies merged in 1992. MOT traffic officers transitioned to Police at the same time.

Three Police Association members lucky enough to serve behind the wheel of the Mitsi V3000 share their “Wedge” memories.



Former Superintendent Carey Griffiths

Former Road Policing national manager (now at Customs)

I was driving the V3000s in Hastings not long after the 1992 merger. There’s a picture of me as a young constable standing next to an all-white one with the Police decals on the doors and hood. Early after the merger, the V3000s were considered too powerful for frontline police officers to get behind the wheel straight away. They were used to the heavier Holdens and Falcons, which were big slugs of things. Those of us working inquiries who got to use them just loved them. They were like rocket ships compared with the big V6s.

You had to be careful in the wet if you were too heavy on the accelerator. They were front-wheel drives with no traction control and they’d just spin up and the car would head off on an angle. They were a bit smaller in the back compared with the Holdens, so it was a challenge stuffing a large, struggling individual into the backseat.

I had the dubious honour of stacking one into the wall of the Flaxmere Community Policing Centre. The wall was white and with a white bonnet on a bright day, I had no visual reference. So, I just very quietly poked it into the wall in front of a whole lot of visitors. No-one let me forget about that.



Senior Constable Tony “Billy” Billingham

Driving Instructor, Royal NZ Police College

When the V3000 first came out in 1988, I was only three years into the job as a motorcycle officer in Christchurch with MOT. We weren't allowed to drive them until we had had at least four years’ experience. Every motorcycle officer was drooling to get into them. When we merged with Police, the V3000s were meant to be for Traffic Safety branch. But the trouble was all these “blue shirts” loved them too and would take off in them! We ended up having to drive the horrible old Falcons because our Mitsis were always being stolen [from the yard].

They just stuck to the road like glue and were so good that you could take off in second gear – that's how good the gearbox was. If you put it in first gear, you’d spin the wheels up if you were too heavy on the accelerator and let the clutch out too quick. You weren't putting it under any pressure.

One evening I was parked up and this guy just jumps in the front passenger seat next to me and he reels off his home address. Stunned, I say, “Who do you think I am?” “You’re a taxi, aren’t you?” I said, “No, I’m a traffic cop!” Then I said, “Yeah, where are you headed, I’ll take you home”. He was [extremely] drunk and that’s what you did sometimes in those days. We were often mistaken for taxis.

Another time I was driving with a sergeant in central Christchurch and we saw a V8 coming towards us. We did a speed check, swung into a U-turn and this V8 put their foot down and took off. The V3000s were very quick, but this thing made us look like a little 1000cc car. I had my foot down and my sergeant’s going, “Catch up, catch up – go, go, go!” And I’m saying, “I am, I am!” I was catching up when we came to corners because he had to slow down, but then he got away on us again. This went on for about a kilometre or two when we came around a sharp bend and there was this V8 up to its doors in the Avon River. So, being good officers, we got out and went to the driver who’s on the bank. Thankfully, he said he was fine, so we cuffed him and dragged him away.



Inspector Brian Yanko

Police Fleet Service Group manager

I was assigned to a traffic unit in Naenae after graduating in 1993 and was put behind the wheel of a black and white V3000 Wedge – I can still remember the licence plate: PS1422. It was an exceptionally quick car and very responsive.

The shape of the car was actually a consumer vehicle – I can remember my friend’s parents buying the Mitsubishi Sigma. The consumer models had a two-litre engine, but Mitsubishi Motors NZ introduced a three-litre engine into the Police model, which is what made it really stand out. The exceptionally large motor in this particularly light vehicle made it very quick. In fact, when you were driving them as patrol cars, and sometimes when you were under lights and doing urgent duty driving, you had to be careful. When you did a U-turn and you applied acceleration, you really had to hold on to the steering wheel because there was just so much torque coming out. You could feel the power coming up through the wheels. They were amazing cars.

Funnily enough, I was driving near the Police College about four or five years ago, and I saw this jet black V3000 pass me. I looked at the registration and it was my old patrol car! So I'm not sure whether it's still on the road now, but it certainly was back then.



Flying high in the V3000

  • The V3000 was a New Zealand-only model introduced in 1988, built in Porirua as part of the development of the Mitsubishi Sigma.
  • With a powerful 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 brokendown Australian military vehicle. The punchline, “More tow than an Aussie tank”, was a dig at the Australian-built six-cylinder competition. You can still watch the ad on YouTube.

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