2003 Subaru Impreza WRC 2003
Subaru and the World Rally Championship
The Subaru World Rally Team made its World Rally debut in 1989, during the Group A era. The first car used to compete was the Legacy, finished in the iconic blue with gold wheels and 555 livery. From the start, the English motorsport engineering company, Prodrive, were employed to design, test, manufacture and run the Subaru World Rally Team. Cars were built in England, with Prodrive sending its team of engineers around the world to compete in the World Rally Championship.
Success followed, with Subaru winning the 1995 and 1996 Constructors’ Championship, with famed Scotsman, Colin McRae winning the 1995 World Rally Drivers’ Championship.
When the regulations changed to WRC for the 1997 season, success was immediate, Pierro Liatti won the opening round in Monte Carlo, followed by Kenneth Eriksson in Sweden and Colin McRae in Kenya (whose winning car we currently own)! Subaru dominated, winning eight of the fourteen rounds, claiming another World Rally Constructors’ Championship wit the Impreza.
The cars developed year after year, 1999 saw a new active Hewland rear differential and a larger turbo with improved anti-lag. The H-pattern manual gearbox was also replaced with a Prodrive hydraulically operated semi-automatic paddle shift setup. 2001 saw the introduction of the ‘new-age’ four-door body shell, with Richard Burns winning the 2001 Drivers’ World Rally Championship aboard the new ‘bugeye’ Subaru.
For the 2003 season, Subaru introduced the car seen here, often referred to as the ‘Blobeye’ single headlamp body. Internally known as the S8, this Impreza WRC2003 also featured a larger intercooler, and improved anti-lag booster. Petter Solberg made his Subaru debut in 2000, winning his first World Rally at Wales Rally GB in 2002, and was known as one of the most talented drivers in the world.
This 2003 Subaru Impreza WRC
The car offered here, chassis PROGDA03004 was assembled at Prodrive in late 2002, being road-registered in the UK in December. The car was assigned the registration ‘S40 WRT’, with which it is still UK registered today.
Prodrive documentation on file shows this car was first tested at the MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) test track on the 14th January 2003. Even the weather is noted, light rain then sunny with an ambient temperature of 9˚C. These records show every aspect of the shakedown, with sections including the engine, transmission, electrical and suspension. The mileage covered at MIRA is also noted, along with a job list once the car returned to Prodrive headquarters. Documentation such as this is so rare and important with these great cars, very rarely do we see such detailed levels of documentation.
The Subaru World Rally Team unveiled their latest challenger, the Impreza WRC2003 in Monte Carlo, on the eve of round 1 of the 2003 World Rally Championship, the Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo. Widely considered the most famous rally of them all, 2003 was the 71st running of the Monte Carlo rally, with Petter Solberg and co-driver Phil Mills assigned race number 7. Friday morning started well with the pair immediately on the pace, running either second or third overall, until retirement after a kiss with a guard rail.
Petter Solberg and the Subaru Impreza WRC2003 went on to win the 2003 Drivers’ World Rally Championship, a sign of just how competitive this car was.
Once its World Rally Championship days were over, this WRC2003 returned to Prodrive before being sold to its first private owner, Mike Oates in England. Over the next ten years, PROGDA03004 competed around Europe and Barbados in various rallies, changing hands along the journey with highlight results including eight event victories in England and Barbados.
The car has always been well maintained by specialist mechanics and race teams. Invoices on file confirm engine and gearbox rebuild by Subaru specialists Autosportif Engineering in 2016, since which the car has been used very little. Dom Buckley Motorsport also maintained the car, again many invoices are available on file.
In late-2018, S40 WRT returned to England and was handed over to rally and competition car specialists, BGMSport. Run by Ian Gwynne who comes from a famed family in the rallying world, BGM Sport has a huge experience working with World Rally cars, with many members of the team having previously worked at Prodrive.
The car was stripped to a bare shell, sand blasted and measured on a jig to ensure it matched the original factory dimensions and specifications. Using many detailed period images from the 2003 Monte Carlo Rally, S40 WRT was repainted in the iconic blue, with various sections of the interior being correctly finished in matt white, as per period. All components were meticulously cleaned, inspected, refurbished and replaced where necessary. The engine was fully rebuilt and has covered 0 kms since being refitted to the car. The gearbox, which encases the centre and front differentials, was also inspected and rebuilt, with new parts including dog rings, hubs and drop gears and has covered 20 kms since rebuild. The rear differential was inspected with the crown wheel, pinion and bearings found to be in good condition, new hydraulic differential seals were also fitted. The turbo was disassembled, inspected and a new wastegate and shaft fitted, with the clutch also being rebuilt. The race livery was even recreated by the same people who did it in period for Prodrive.
Now being offered fresh from these works, and looking resplendent in its 2003 Monte Carlo rally livery with gold wheels, this Subaru World Rally car offers the rare opportunity for you to own one of the most iconic rally cars in history. Retaining its semi-automatic paddle-actuated transmission, and UK V5 with the original registration ‘S40 WRT’, this car is ready to hit the rally stage, or just as easily be taken for a Sunday drive.
Who doesn’t want to take their World Rally car to Sunday lunch? We’ll meet you there!