Subaru’s makeover from farm mule to WRC winner

It took a couple of years to climb to the top of the podium, but once Colin McRae scored his and the team’s maiden victory at the 1993 Rally New Zealand, the programme could really go through the gears.

And going through the gears meant the immediate introduction of the Legacy’s successor: the Impreza 555. This car will always be intrinsically linked to McRae.

The Lanark driver won his world championship in the famous blue and yellow livery in 1995 and the Subaru-Prodrive alliance went on to bag two more titles with Richards Burns in 2001 and Petter Solberg in 2003 with World Rally Car derivatives.

The evolution of the Impreza 555 into Impreza WRC97 was one of the stories of the World Rally Car era. Piero Liatti gave the WRC97 a debut win on the 1997 Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first rally of the new generation, demonstrating that this drop-dead gorgeous car had the pace to back up stunning looks.

Standing staring at the curvy lines and flared-arches at the car’s launch in 1997, the step from farmer’s field to arguably the WRC’s most stunning and successful creation was quite astonishing.

What a difference a decade can make.