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Prodrive’s restoration of this Safari-winning Subaru Impreza begins

Last month, we announced that we were taking ‘P8 WRC’, the ex-Colin McRae Safari Rally-winning Subaru Impreza WRC97, home to Prodrive to be returned to its former glory. But when it comes to a project of such magnitude and significance, where do the engineers at Prodrive’s newly formed Legends department begin?

There’s a simple answer to the above question and that’s to take stock and paint a crystal-clear picture of what they’re working with. In this case, that meant carefully and methodically stripping ‘P8 WRC’ down to its bodyshell, removing all its componentry and disassembling major parts such as the engine, gearbox and differential.

Furthermore, as this Subaru will be restored back to the exact specification and livery in which it took to the Safari Rally starting ramp in Nairobi on 1 March 1997, understanding the state and condition of the car as it arrived at Prodrive was crucial to planning the subsequent steps in the process.

As is the often the case with restorations of this magnitude, there were areas which were good and areas which were not so good. But generally, we were very satisfied with the condition of the car – especially after the incredibly punishing life it’s led for the last 25 years.

Over the course of its post-Works competition career, ‘P8 WRC’ was campaigned in national rally championships across Europe, predominantly in Italy and the United Kingdom. As such, the car was maintained and evolved by the various outfits and owners which competed with it.⁣

As a result, there are some clear differences between this Impreza in 1997 and when it arrived at Prodrive – this Impreza had its two Safari-spec roof cooling vents replaced with a single central scoop, for example, in addition to the additional 1998-configuration roll bar side support. But naturally, some of the differences are less obvious and require looking beyond the surface.⁣

Needless to say, no stone will be left unturned in order to ensure every last detail is correct and authentic, from the chassis, engine and ancillaries to the bodywork and the livery. From the outset, we knew we wanted to go the whole hog with the restoration and give the guys at Prodrive Legends the chance to flex their muscle on what is their first two-door Impreza project. 

And that’s the beauty of working with Prodrive on this project. Thanks to their combination of first-hand knowledge, unrivalled archive and cutting-edge technological prowess, we have been able to identify a number of small beneath-the-surface features further confirming this car’s history. Stay tuned for the next step: the bodyshell.

Photos: Robert Cooper for Girardo & Co. 

You can read part one of our ‘P8 WRC’ restoration story by clicking here.

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