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Stage fright

1 year ago

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Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder


12 April 2023

There it was, sitting at a jaunty angle on its plinth at the British Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham. This was in October 2000. The blue paint, gold wheels and dayglo yellow decals looked the same, but this new machine built for the 2001 season had hideous bug-eye headlights and it had sprouted two extra doors. It was immediately clear to me that Subaru had ruined its Impreza WRC car. This monstrosity wouldn’t win a thing.

I was wrong about that – it did win something, the championship in fact, driven by Richard Burns, still England’s only World Rally Champion, and navigator Robert Reid. But I was absolutely right about the way that new-era Subaru Impreza WRC looked. It didn’t help one bit that the four-door car replaced a series of two-door Impreza WRCs that competed between 1997 (when the World Rally Car rules set was introduced) and 2000, looking about as good as any rally car has ever looked while doing so. And when you’re 13 years old, appearances really matter.

But it seems appearances still do matter. Because now, some 23 years later, those two-door Subarus are still my favourites. It doesn’t matter that the 1995 Group A version won the title in the uniquely gifted hands of Colin McRae, nor that the 2001 car did what it did, and it doesn’t matter that the slightly more handsome 2003 variant won the drivers’ championship with Petter Solberg. They were all four-door cars and though their CVs are more glittering, none looks as good as the less successful two-door models I like so much.

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