A genuine Prodrive Subaru Impreza 555 driven by New Zealand rallying legends Possum Bourne and ‘Smoken’ Joe McAndrew has been put up for sale.
After its last competitive outing in the 1997 New Zealand Rally Championship, the car was stored away in a private collection in Italy for 18 years.
The car has since resurfaced and has appeared on the market with an approximate asking price of NZD $640,000.
Before landing into its Kiwi owners’ hands, this particular Impreza – chassis number PRO/STI 93.004 – was first piloted by storied rallying great Ari Vatanen.
Its debut event was the 1993 Rally of Finland. The rugged Finnish countryside eliminated nearly half of all the field. Still, Vatanen was able to power the 93.004 to an impressive second overall after winning 16 stages.
Only a bizarre demister gremlin, which impacted Vatanen’s vision of the road ahead, denied the car a maiden victory. Two seconds was the margin of defeat for Vatanen with top honours going to Juha Kankkunen in a Toyota Celica.
Following Vatanen’s stunning debut of the car, Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz Snr and Richard Burns had stints behind the wheel.
It would eventually fall into Bourne’s lap, who then used the car to clinch a memorable Saxon Safari Tasmania Rally win in 1996.
The Kiwi also re-registered the car ‘ROJ’ in honour of long-time friend, champion motorcycle rider and co-driver Rodger Freeth who passed away in 1993 due to injuries sustained in crash while driving with Bourne.
Bourne had experienced a troubled 1995 season with the works 555 Subaru outfit. Thus, he purchased the car from Prodrive and formed an all-Kiwi team for the 1996 Australian Rally Championship.
Wins at Coffs Harbour and Canberra set Bourne up for the first of his seven successive ARC titles.
Eventually, Bourne sold the car on to three-time New Zealand National Champion Joe McAndrew in 1996. After one swansong year of competitive rally in 1997, the car headed to Italy in 2002.
Eighteen years later, the 93.004 made its way back to Australian after being purchased by Kiwi rally fan Robbie McLean, who had helped build a workshop for Bourne during the 1996 ARC campaign.
McLean had the car on show during the 2018 SubiNats at Sydney Motorsport Park, before the car found a new home at the Bathurst Motorsport Museum.
The 555 is listed here.