Top Gear rivals Three Men Four Wheels get exclusive access to Colin Mcrae Impreza
Three Men Four Wheels: A look at the Subaru Imprezza 555
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The show put the iconic rally car through its paces with professional driver and host Marino Franchitti admitting the car wanted to be taken by the “scruff of its neck”. Marino selected the car for inclusion after the show in tribute to his rally champion friend Colin who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2007.
Marino said motoring “gets no better” than a Mcrae Subaru before adding the personal connection to this car was on another level”.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, he said: “All of us had a blast with that one even though I was driving it.
“The personal connection to this one on the human side with Colin and I put it on another level for me.
“And also it’s a Colin Mcrae Subaru, it gets no better than that, it definitely whetted my appetite.”
“The car wanted to be driven really hard, just when I was easing my way into it I had to go past that because it’s like ‘come on get on with it’
“It’s like being with Colin, if in doubt flat out. It wanted to be taken by the scruff of its neck. I really had to get after that.”
Colin Mcrae took his first event win in the Subaru at the 1993 Rally New Zealand before further success soon followed.
He wrapped up the driver’s title in 1995 beating his teammate Carlos Sainz at the final round in Great Britain.
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Alongside the success, other notable wins were secured at the famous Acropolis and Safari rallies with the car.
This particular model has been managed by manufacturer Prodrive and won the Catalunya rally in Spain.
The boys were given the opportunity to visit the car in the garage before Marino donned his helmet and took the car for a spin at the Anglesey test track.
Marino told Express.co.uk: “I had a lot more grip than I expected because they had these brand spanking new intermediate tyres on there.
“It was actually one of the only times it was fully dry and I was a bit disappointed because I wanted it to be a bit damp so I could slide more easily.
“What was interesting was it was a bit understeery to start with, which with 4WD you expect sometimes. It had the active centre diff and I said to Paul [Howarth], ‘I can’t get it going on the exit of corners, can’t quite get it sliding.
“He reaches in and he twists this dial and he goes ‘try that’ and I went out for another run.
“They’d adjusted the centre diff and the power more to the rear and it was just unbelievable. It was just ridiculous, the traction and the balance it had on corner exit was unbelievable.
He added: “You can’t help but be surprised by how short the gears are, how fast you go out the box, things like that, the acceleration.”
“I became very obsessed very quickly with the hydraulic handbrake because what it does is it disengages the rear wheels, disengages the drive to the rear wheels so you can skid it.
“Then if you keep the throttle on while you doing it, it just oversteers and the front wheels just keep pulling the car along. It’s brilliant.”
Speaking in the episode Prodrive Chief executive David Richards said the head of Subaru in the UK said “before you came on the scene we were a farmer’s pick up truck, now we are a cult hero for petrolheads, how did that happen”.
Marino added: “Is there a more famous combination in rallying in the world than Colin Mcrae and a blue Subaru with a gold 555.
“He was, whether people have won more or been more successful, he was the most iconic and most famous rally driver of all time, without a doubt.”
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