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Welcome to our latest project car. This time, it’s something altogether different. And it all starts with a question…. Can you really take a 14 year old car and modify to a ‘scene-friendly’ condition without ever leaving the coffee-aroma’d environs of the main dealer network? Subaru UK seems to think you can….
In case you’re not familiar with the Pro-R range, it’s Subaru’s latest performance initiative that sees it partnering up with many household tuning names to create a series of realistically priced modifications for all manner of Imprezas. That it would encompass parts for the latest MY08- on cars came as little surprise to us, but what really tweaked our interest was Subaru’s assertion that the range would also be rolled back to suit the older cars too. Everything right back to the Jap scene stalwart that is the dear old GC8..
So, has Subaru really come up with a viable tuning proposition for these older cars? There was only one way to find out, we felt.. and that was to put the whole theory into practise. And for that, we would need a suitable canvas. For this we enlisted the help of resident scene car-hoarder, Paul Cowland. As an ex-Subaru sales supremo (his words, not ours), his phone is full of all sorts of handy people to know, including those in the six-starred galaxy that could turn up a minter in a day or two. The results of his fruitful search are right here for you to see; a 97 Type UK, little bit of T&T, Demo plus one owner, 66,000 miles, zero mods - save for a set of mint Speedlines and a Prodrive back-box, and the kind of service history that re-defines the word ‘comprehensive’. Better still, it even has the air-con option fitted! At £1550 back in the day, you really don’t find many UK cars with this modern-day essential. On the downside? Not much really. There’s a tiny bit of piston slap when cold, but this disappears as soon as the temperature gauge picks itself off the floor, making for a car that does a passable impersonation of a showroom-fresh Version 4. The brakes are diabolical, bordering on dangerous, but the gearchange is tight and crisp and the exhaust note hugely appealing. It’s going to be the perfect basis to discern whether a franchised dealer really can offer a viable alternative to the aftermarket. Thanks must go here to Ian Armstrong at Unity Automotive in Peterborough. He had actually taken this gem in part exchange against a new STi, and liked it so much, had planned to keep it for himself. Much badgering followed, with Ian finally agreeing to let the Pro-R team have it – on the understanding that he gets first refusal to buy it back after we have finished with it.. Hmmm, we’ll see…
The plan is simple. Each month, we will be selecting a modification from the Pro-R range and then visiting one of the appointed specialist centres to have it fitted. Not only will we be handing out points for the experience as a whole, but more importantly than that, analysing the benefit – or otherwise – of having the mod fitted at all. This said, we’re already prepared to make a small bet that the brake upgrade will make a sizable difference. Can’t see the current offerings making it through the next MOT!
With handling, induction, exhaust, aesthetic and braking lines in the Pro-R portfolio , we should be able to endow this innocuous Impreza with a few extra ponies, cornering g’s and even a subtle new look. .. and we’re going to get to drink a lot of very expensive coffee along the way. Join us next month to see how we get on!
Unity Automotive www.unityautomotive.co.uk