Here's one for you. In the British Isles - counting Norn Iron and Eire as Ireland, just for the sake of the story, sorry for any offence - which nation produces, or has produced, the hardest/best drivers?
England obviously has a head start in any inter-nation comparison of this nature by virtue of having a much higher population than the other three, so let's forget about them. Wales has a strong history on the rallying front. Ireland has churned out a few great rallyists too, Hopkirk in the old days and Kris Meeke more recently, plus some truly awesome road-race motorcyclists, but with the notable exception of Eddie Irvine there haven't been many Irish track aces.
If we reduce it to the average driving ability of the ordinary man quite literally in the street, Shed would cast his vote north of the border to bonny Scotchland. That country has produced more than its fair share of driving legends both on and off the Tarmac - Clark, McRae, Stewart, Coulthard. It also has some of the maddest public roads in Europe, not to mention some of the strictest law enforcers on those roads.
So, a regular punter who takes on the roads and the feds in the land of the brave really is quite brave. Someone like the owner of this honourably well-used Subaru WRX wagon, say. Now that the time has come to pass his leggy but faithful old steed on to the next owner, we reckon his sales campaign deserves a small SOTW kickstart.
Judging by the pics of the Impreza's mud-splattered body, the owner doesn't believe in wasting time in the car wash when there are so many more Heeland roads to be monstered. Looks like he might have stopped in the middle of a rare dry-weather thrash to take these snaps. You can almost feel the heat coming off the tyres. Less biologically appealing is the evidence of sweat stains on the driver's seat, but surely even that's a badge of honour in a motor like this.
The drive is a blast. The '02 model got better gear ratios and the '03 got AVCS (an active valve control system which smoothed out the engine, or improved efficiency at least), but this '01 model should provide plenty of laughs for £1200. Traction and grip are brilliant, and it's a pretty strong shell too, so even if you stuff it into a hedge you're likely to come out smelling of Brut rather than 97RON petrol, its preferred tipple.
Trying to make sense of Impreza nomenclature and model designations is like untangling a garden hose that hasn't been put away right. What we can say with reasonable certainty is that this is the post-2000 bugeye gen-two GD model with the 2.0-litre turbo EJ20 flat-four 'boxer' engine. It may not look as cleanly sytyled as the McRae-era car (one of his rally weapons sold for £230,000 last summer). Subaru did de-goggle it a bit in 2004 before it became soporifically bland in the 2007 Mk3. Point being, most would agree that the 2001-on Mk2 is a better car than the Mk1 for all-round use.
This one is not only a 44S but also a PPP, which Shed thought was something to do with mis-sold insurance. Of course, as any fule knows, PPP actually means it's got a Prodrive Performance Pack. Branded 'WR Sport', these Packs were available as a fully-warranted optional extra when you were buying your Impreza new from the dealer. Pack contents varied slightly, but the basic setup included a remapped ECU, sports cat, backbox and high-flow fuel pump.
44S? Well, that's just another bit of factory talk for the GD 4-door bodystyle, as opposed to the 2-door 22B. Probably. Plus of course it's Mrs Shed's upper leg circumference in inches.
Slight sill corrosion was noted in March 2016, followed in March of this year with a rust fail on a rear suspension mount. That was sorted for the pass, but the vendor does openly admit to a wheelarch bleb. Most of the other MOT notes refer to consumable items, and there will be more bits for the new owner to replace. That's the nature of the beast.
The belts haven't been done for 45,000 miles. You should be all right for a bit yet, but you don't want to push your luck as a snapped belt won't end well in one of these. Replacement is not a simple or cheap job. The belt kits include the hydraulic tensioner as well as three idler cogs and come in at over £200 just for the bits. Other Rex stuff to watch out for: misfiring (HT leads), wonky knock sensors, head gasket failure, clutch clatter from cold, and oil leaks from the front of the motor - something the 'laid-down' engine format of the Subaru may inherently encourage.
If you want to see how an Impreza (Shed thinks it's an Impreza, but you may know different) manages on an Irish rally, we recommend this- it's Rude Father Ted on wheels. Not really suitable for the office, but hilarious if you like dat sort of ting. Careful Now!
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