Motorsport can make a car - and the Subaru Impreza WRX is the perfect example.
Prior to its domestic launch in 1992, Subaru was a charming but oddball car company loved by farmers and those who lived off the beaten track thanks to its benchmark four-wheel-drive technology. It had dabbled in rallying, too, notably with the Legacy in 1991-2, through which the company began its association with Scottish rallying legend Colin McRae.
McRae would go on to be a figurehead for the company throughout the 1990s as the Legacy gave way to the Impreza and the car made a name for itself across the world’s rally community, making Subaru’s mid-size saloon something of an icon – a far cry from its competent but humble beginnings.
The WRX model debuted in Japan in 1992, the name standing for World Rally eXperimental. The rally-inspired technology included turbocharging, stiffer suspension, close-ratio transmission and a faster steering rack than on a standard model.
The WRX name became a Subaru standard throughout the rest of the Impreza’s life, with numerous special editions and ever more extreme performance packages, but even in standard 240PS form it was a fabulous car to drive.
This one is a very early WRX, built in 1994 and first registered in Japan, before coming to the UK in 1998. It was converted properly when it came, too, so unlike some imports it has an MPH speedo.
What appeals most about it, though, is its completely unspoilt originality. So many of these early cars were modified, chipped or otherwise “improved” by the modifying community during their lives, making a totally unbastardised example a rare thing indeed. But that’s not all it has going for it…
Imported into the UK in 1998 when it was just four years old, this car has lived a cherished existence since and has clocked up less than 45,300 miles in its 27-year life, much of which has been spent in dry storage.
That’s incredible for any car of its age, let alone one that’s designed to be driven and enjoyed, and not especially gently, either. It makes the car a real rarity which has been used sparingly, clocking up less than 1,500 miles in the past three years.
The vendor had a major service carried out on the car within that time, including a new cambelt, water pump, PCV valve and brake lines.
He is now selling the car in the hope it will be bought by an enthusiast who’ll cherish it and preserve its originality.
There’s not a huge amount of paperwork with the Impreza as it was imported from Japan and then stored for quite some time, but what there is with it is the bill for the most recent service work (over £1,000) and a selection of old MOT certificates corroborating its low mileage and good overall condition.
It also has a UK V5C in the name of the vendor.
Apart from the wheels, which are both tasteful and reversible, this Impreza is 100% standard, which given its mileage and overall condition is a real selling point.
Finished in Black Diamond Pearl, one of four colours offered on the original WRX (the others being red, white and silver – a blue one didn’t come until 1995), the bodywork is in excellent order with no signs of any rust. The original body panels are straight and true with only a few very small imperfections, with tiny dinks on both front wings and one door – these are the tiniest of marks, though, and do not stand out.
The underneath of the car is solid and has never received any corrosion advisories at the MOT, which is unsurprising for a car that was kept in long-term dry storage.
A set of original alloys would be the only thing required to put this car back to 100% standard, and we’d be minded to do that as a pure, unmessed with Impreza is a very rare thing these days. In the meantime, the gold 20-spokes that are currently fitted don’t look over the top and would be perfect to use daily to preserve a set of show wheels.
A similar story unfolds inside, which is in equally good order. The grey cloth seats with their red ‘tiger stripe’ bolsters are about as mid-Nineties a pattern as you can get, but they set the car off nicely for its era and are in fine order.
They’re also extremely comfortable – as a roadgoing manifestation of a rally car, the WRX driving position is all about control. The seats are buckets, with impressive lateral support.
All dials and controls work as they should and there are separate factory-fitted turbo boost gauges to remind you that you’re sitting in something that’s a little bit special. The only fault we’re aware of is a missing coin holder slot between the seats, but that’s hardly a major issue.
Being an early car, this “GC8-B” Impreza (taken from the chassis plate) comes with the 2.0-litre 240PS engine which is extremely punchy for its 1,994cc.
The twin overhead cam engine gives a 0-60 sprint time of just 6.4 seconds, aided by a close ratio gearbox designed with rally-style take-offs in mind. It’s not especially quick flat-out (though 135mph is quick enough for most!) but is extremely rapid off the mark and through the gears, helped in no small part by the standard four-wheel-drive.
The handling is sublime, too. If you’ve never driven an Impreza then even one in standard form delivers tenacious grip and amazingly reassuring roadholding.
The vendor reports that this car is in fine mechanical order and drives absolutely spot-on.
The market for Imprezas is strong at the moment thanks to the sheer amount of nostalgia there is for cars of the 1990s among those who couldn’t afford to buy them when new.
The biggest difficulty, though, is in finding the right car. With so many Imprezas being modified or given huge performance upgrades, finding a cherished, low-mileage and completely standard car is nearly impossible.
We say nearly… because you’ve just found it. Here’s your opportunity. It’s not one to miss.
** The photos in this listing have been provided to us by the seller **
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