Over the white line: a rally car named desire

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSaturday, February 28th, 2009

 
 

Want to know what the world’s most desirable car is? Well, you’ve come to the wrong place, mate. It’s a question we can’t answer.

Or rather the answer we do have isn’t satisfyingly simple. It’s probable that there are as many world-beaters out there as there are petrolheads to lust after them. And the list isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

While anyone would feel comfortable with the idea of blowing the lottery winnings on a Ferrari Fiorano, a Porsche Carrera GT or a McLaren F1 Supercar, the reality of actually handling one of these monsters without putting it through a hedge would send most of us scurrying for the nearest Ford Focus.

Never mind paying the ongoing costs.

A member of your Brits on Pole management once interviewed an Aussie ex-racing driver who swore that, in road car terms, you couldn’t beat hot hatches like the Peugeot 205 or Austin’s MG Maestro Turbo. Yes, this was a few years ago, and just you look up the latter’s numbers before you snort in incredulity.

His point was that, having driven F1-spec cars, pushing a small model to its limit on the roads was now better than chasing the big thrills – as well as more conducive to keeping one’s licence.

So there’s no easy definition of the world’s most desirable car. Having said all this, we’d like to propose a candidate.

This week we learned that a service from Prodrive, offering previously enjoyed race vehicles for public sale, is putting up the first Impreza built to the WRC regulations – in other words, from 1997.

Autoweek tells us that the car was driven by Colin McRae, Pierro Liatti and Kenneth Erikkson during the season. It has been fully restored and painted in its 1997 Rally Finland livery and is being offered at £85,000.

In case that’s not enough thrills, seven more former Subaru World Rally Team cars and 18 Prodrive Subaru Group N cars are up for sale at http://www.prodrive.com/carsforsale.

World’s most desirable car? We’ll take that, thanks.

Here’s some of the other racing and automotive news that we looked at this week:

  • In the UK the BBC topped the news list for Formula One fans by revealing its plans for this year’s coverage, having just won the contract from ITV1. Not that much of the announcement came as news – most of the information had trickled into the public domain long since. However we were disappointed to hear that the Corporation will not be broadcasting GP2 races. We used to enjoy watching them of a Sunday morning and add our voices to all the others saying it’s a shame the BBC hasn’t seen fit to pick this up for terrestrial viewers.
  • Autosport reassured us that world domination is only a season or two away for A1GP supremo Tony Teixeira after he revealed his wish to run an F1 team, based out of the ambitious Portimao circuit and backed by the Portugese government. After the chaotic season A1GP is having, our first reaction was the same as most other people’s – involving a vernacular expression about arranging alcoholic celebrations in breweries. But then we re-read the article and a few things stood out, not least Teixeira’s willingness to persevere in the face of multiple rejections. Suddenly the whole ‘Powered by Ferrari’ thing made an awful lot more sense. It must be said there’s an impressive coherence and scale to this plan, although how much of it is hard business reality is another matter. We shall watch events with interest.
  • It’s almost sad to be reporting the end of Spygate. The Ferrari-McLaren feud has been going on for so long that it feels like part of the sporting furniture, similar to the North London footballing derby or a Yorks/Lancs cricket fixture. But over it is, according to the BBC and many others this week. Charges against former McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan and three current senior employees have been dropped but all will have to pay fines. Mind you – we wouldn’t miss a season where the politics are kept off the racetrack. But since F1’s players have spent the off-season picking their sides for the next confrontation – teams vs the FIA – we probably won’t get it any time soon.
  • Is this where the FIA’s cost-cutting and environmental plans could ultimately take us? Wired’s Autopia blog reports on a solar car developed by top American university MIT that is capable of doing 90mph. True, it looks like a cut-down version of the Starship Enterprise. And heaven knows where the sponsors’ logos would go. But this could be a vision of the future…
  • And finally – a wonderful piece of silliness reported in the Daily Mail: “As the startled Spanish soldiers race down the runway to detain the intruder, a wind-burned Englishman in a flying suit leaps from the car and starts jumping up and down like he’s scored the winner in the FA Cup final. In fact, he has just flown from Tarifa in southern Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar on surely one of the first landmark adventures of the 21st century. He’s piloted a prototype flying car – the first roadworthy ehicle to take to the skies.” Yes, a man the paper irresistibly describes as “gentleman adventurer Neil Laughton, an ex-Royal Marine and SAS soldier” looks set to make this particular dream a reality. Another candidate for the world’s most desirable car?

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