Demand is presently high for rally cars, particularly those with significant provenance
A few issues ago we were planning to feature the ex-Richard Burns Subaru Impreza on these pages, the very car in which the late and legendary star won the 2000 Rally GB.
At the time it was on sale with Duncan Hamilton ROFGO at a guide of £400,000 (in off-the-finish-line condition, complete with a glovebox containing Burns’s mobile phone, pace notes and energy bars) – but by the time we called to speak to the firm’s Simon Drabble, the car had found a new owner.
Not long afterwards DH-ROFGO offered an ex-Colin McRae Ford Focus for about £325,000, but that, too, was swiftly snapped up, this time by celebrity chef James Martin who, we’re reliably informed, is now enjoying it to the full.
So, if the Subaru Impreza pictured here is already being signed over to a new owner while you’re reading, we can only apologise. In any event, it’s a noteworthy car having been the very machine that helped Norwegian ace Petter Solberg to the runner-up spot in the 2002 World Rally Championship, paving the way for his outright victory the following year.
Notable results achieved with the car by Solberg and navigator Phil Mills included a fifth in the Acropolis Rally and third places in both the Rallye San Remo and the Telstra Rally Australia.
In the hands of the previous private owner – a notable employee of Prodrive, no less – the Subaru was treated to a full cosmetic and mechanical rebuild that returned it to the exact specification in which it competed in the Acropolis and, at time of writing, it was back at Prodrive having a gearbox service that was set to make it ready for immediate use either for historic competition or simply as a seriously entertaining road car.
According to Drabble, the market is currently hot for genuine, serious rally cars that have taken part in high-profile events – although he believes values are still low in relation to core conventional racing cars.
“The high-end rally cars that sell for good money are the ones that have their original shells, a nice history and their gold book (the FIA World Rally Car technical passport),” says Drabble.
“Cars that were used by high-profile British drivers such as Richard Burns or Colin McRae are especially coveted in the UK, but any really well-known name will add to the value. Many of the people who are buying them take them out and use them as toys – they are absolutely brilliant just for driving in that way, because they are very robust and far more enjoyable to use on the road than, say, a race-prepared AC Cobra or Jaguar E-type that could be quite unpleasant anywhere other than on a smooth circuit.
“That said, many people who buy these cars or express an interest in owning one already own race cars – and they often can’t believe how inexpensive they are in comparison.”
The definition of ‘inexpensive’ is, of course, entirely relative – but we don’t think the £245,000 being asked for this ex-Solberg Subaru is particularly unreasonable, considering its originality, provenance and well-documented rallying history.
For videos of it in action with Solberg at the wheel, take a look at dhrofgo.com. The scene where he’s driving the car at full pelt during the Acropolis, while Mills reaches across with a ratchet to re-attach the steering wheel, is especially entertaining…