Within recent years, rally cars have taken on a high profile in enthusiast circles, becoming some of the most collectible motorsport machines. Maybe it’s because of their compact, purposeful look, more lights than a spider has eyes, and the bulldog-like ferocity of cars that bear a passing resemblance to their production counterparts, but with everything except bare essentials jettisoned in favor of performance.
These diminutive terrors come from the UK, Italy, France, Germany, the United States, and of course, Japan. Of the latter, few have been as tenacious and successful as has Subaru’s Impreza, which during the 1990s and early 2000s blazed to numerous victories sporting the factory’s famous blue and yellow livery.
The Bonhams Goodwood Members’ Meeting sale at the Goodwood Motor Circuit, in the UK, on April 16, spans almost 100 years of automotive history. The auction house has gathered an impressive array of 99 cars, many with competition provenance, like the world’s most famous Austin Healey—known as URX—previously featured by Robb Report on March 13. A more modern highlight of the auction is the 1999 Subaru Impreza WRC99 driven by the late Richard Burns, the English rally ace who won the 2001 World Rally Championship and previously finished as runner-up in 1999 and 2000. Complications from a brain tumor, leading to his untimely death at age 34, cut short a brilliant racing career.
To say that Subaru was an unqualified rally success is attested to by the sheer number of wins racked up following the introduction of the Impreza Turbo in 1993. Working with Prodrive as a technical partner, the marque scored 46 victories and 122 podium finishes, winning six World Rally Champions titles and three consecutive constructors’ titles from 1995 through 1997.
In 1997, changing regulations allowed Subaru to develop a new, more potent car, working with Prodrive technical director David Lapworth. It featured an aggressive and attractive exterior by Peter Stevens, who, following Gordon Murray’s concept, designed the iconic McLaren F1. By 1999, the Impreza had a paddle-shift, semi-automatic transmission, a new Hewland rear differential and a larger turbocharger to further improve performance.
The example driven by Burns and co-driver Robert Reid, T15 SRT, was built for the 1999/2000 Rally World Championship. It first ran in the 1999 Rally Sanremo, and was in fifth place before pulling in with a failed transmission. The following January, the team entered it in the 68th Ralley Automobile de Monte-Carlo, coming in second overall on the first day, but ending its winning chances with ignition trouble.
Subsequently, the intrepid Impreza was sold by Prodrive to French rally driver Armando Pereira, the first of several who drove the car to first-place finishes in French and Belgian rallies. The car on offer was acquired by the consignor in 2018, who undertook a five-year restoration without regard to expense or complexity. The project was accomplished with NOS parts, including rare and original carbon-fiber seats and magnesium wheels. Naturally, it has been finished in its correct 2000 Monte Carlo rally livery.
Importantly, this car has an accompanying Prodrive Legends report attesting to its authenticity. Lamp pod lights, an additional set of wheels, and a spares package are included, along with the FIA Gold book. An estimate as high as £520,000 (approximately $638,900) establishes this as one of the most significant rally machines to come to market, and one certain to be a star car in any collection.
Click here for more photos of the 1999 Subaru Impreza WRC99 offered through Bonhams.