The Subaru WRX STi might have had its final breath on UK roads but love for the the brand lives on, and that’s almost all down to the company’s vast success in rallying.
That success started not with the Impreza most of us remember fondly, but with its larger predecessor on the stages, the Legacy. And one of the best is coming up for sale at this year’s Race Retro show, through Silverstone Auctions.
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The car crossing the block is a 1993 Legacy, that year being the Legacy rally car's last before Subaru switched to the smaller, nimbler Impreza. Wearing the familiar 555 livery (and the equally familiar numberplate format from that era, in this case K555 BAT) this particular car was campaigned by Ari Vatanen in the 1993 Acropolis rally.
Unfortunately, it failed to see out the rest of the season as a works car, when Vatanen crashed out on stage 21, while leading the rally. The car was subsequently re-shelled by Prodrive before being sold to Italian rally squad, Procar. During this time, the car was briefly driven by Richard Burns in 1995, but it never again saw official WRC duty.
In 2000 the car returned to the UK to be used in the IRC series, but in 2001 it was re-shelled again – as a Safari-spec Impreza. It was only after 2008, when the car was acquired by the Richard Burns Collection, that it was returned to authentic, Prodrive spec, overseen by former Prodrive engineer Ian Richardson.
Even in the pictures, it’s a stunning bit of kit, looking as if it’s just rolled fresh from Prodrive’s workshops. The Legacy’s rallying development began in 1989 and early cars produced 290bhp and 289lb ft of torque from their turbocharged 1994cc flat-fours. Drive was sent (naturally) to all four wheels through an X-trac manual gearbox, a viscous centre differential and front and rear limited-slip diffs.
During its competitive period the Legacy started what the Impreza eventually finished, taking a WRC victory at New Zealand in 1993 – at the hands of Colin McRae. The young Scot had already demonstrated the platform’s abilities by winning the 1991 British Rally Championship in a Legacy, with four victories along the way.
There’s no doubt that the Impreza made an even greater impact on the rallying world, but it might not have been quite the machine it was were it not for Prodrive’s experience with the Legacy, and with an estimate of £120,000-£140,000 (before the buyer’s premium) you might even call this historic example a bargain.
You can see the full list of competition cars coming up for auction at Race Retro on the Silverstone Auctions website.