It isn’t too often that one maker becomes synonymous within motorsport the whole world over. When you think of rallying, usually the first manufacturer to come to mind is Subaru, and the driver is usually Colin McRae. The Subaru World Rally Car was based off a 22b chassis and is considered by many to be the most beautiful rally car to come off the Fuji Heavy Industries production line. In 1998 Tamiya recreated the 98′ Monte Carlo edition which many automotive modellers would label as their ‘finest tooling ever’ and while this Impreza might be an oldie, it sure is a goodie.
I was lucky to get up close and personal with one of the sister cars of the 98′ Monte Carlo car. R14WRC is another genuine Colin McRae 1998 Impreza WRC that was raced only a few months after Monte Carlo in the Italian round of the World Rally Championship. It is identical to the car depicted in the model, and was built under the same roof at Prodrive in the UK. Genuine Colin McRae cars are now incredibly sought after by collectors, and this one happens to reside in Tokyo at the Mitaka Subaru dealership which is on display to the public.
As I mentioned earlier, the crafting of this kit is second to none, no cleaning is required, and the model fits together like a dream. The entire kit comes molded in blue which at times requires some crafty painting techniques to stop color bleed through the paint but some careful planning takes care of that minor issue. The instructions allow two differing variations of the cars that were entered in the 98′ Monte Carlo Rally. Car #3 is that of Colin McRae, and #4 was piloted by Piero Liatti; both cars finished the rally 3rd and 4th respectively.
Also included are realistic rubber tires with the correct tread patterns, with finely-crafted OZ racing wheels. Tamiya designed a set of window masks to make painting the interior glass a breeze as well.
Chassis & suspension
The chassis of the Subaru was a simple one, quite barren in terms of motorsport although the detail replicated by Tamiya is superb. Extinguishers, internal electrics, and the rollcage is prominent in any rally car, and this Subaru is no exception. Painted in a TS50 – Mica blue, this paint was specially developed by Tamiya just for this kitset, and it accurately recreates the unmistakable hue that all the Subaru rally cars carried.
The suspension is very well done and includes a lot of detail. Most of this is lost once the car is complete. However, if you look carefully from behind the yellow driveshafts are very visible, along with the matte white exhaust exactly as you will find on the 1:1 rally car.
The cockpit of the Impreza is very well replicated; the 98′ Impreza is prior to the age of paddle-shift and the car was very much an analog rally car yet a big step up from Group A machines. While the cockpit is much smaller with the car being a coupe, Tamiya has crammed in plenty of detail such as the side intrusion carbon covers, foot well details that include a metallic sticker to replicate the foot tray, and the rear electronics panel that sits behind the crew. I used the harness decals on the seats as the quality is superb, and merely added a strip of harness fabric from the rear of the seat to the rollcage for the added realism of laced up belts.
Body and wheels
The timeless lines of the Impreza 22b are what makes this car so famous – the pumped arches and sleek rear wing make this an unforgettable rally car. Sprayed in Tamiya TS-50 Mica blue just like the chassis, it is one of the easier bodies I have had to paint. One single color with only the trim to be masked and painted in black.
The wheels were probably the hardest part of the kitset in my opinion. Molded in dark blue, covering the dark color with gold would possibly require many coats of paint and result in a loss of detail in the center of the wheels. I first sprayed a white primer in two coats, and then proceeded to brush paint a base layer of gold across the entire wheel (including the rear inside part of them, too). Once the wheels were lightly covered in gold I then proceeded to lay two additional coats of TS-21 gold to get a clean, smooth, glossy finish to the wheels. I was happy with the final result and they appear just as the 1:1 wheels did on the actual car.
Tamiya has perfectly produced the decals on this kitset. At first glance the yellow of the ‘555’ appears too bright, but once laid down on the dark surface it takes on the blue bleed to tone down to the correct shade – a clever trick Tamiya thought of to ensure the colors of the Subaru are perfectly on point. The carbon fiber seat decals add a nice touch of realism in the cockpit, too. With quite a curvy rear fender section, I had to utilise Microsol decal solution to make them sit nice and flush around the fenders but the results were well worth it. Also as a safeguard to decrease decal wrinkle, I cut the side door ‘555’ decals into three pieces and applied them.
Tamiya allows you to choose a clean finished look with the standard body lines, or a night-stage variant with a large set of light pods hanging off the front of the car. Monte Carlo is one rally in the championship synonymous with night stages through the twisty, icy roads of the Col de Turini pass. As the only rally car in Tamiya’s lineup that allows for the light pods I went with this version.
As I have built a few 90s’ era rally cars now, the collection was never going to be complete without a Subaru rally car. The kit was a very enjoyable build that presented no real issues at all. As a rally fanatic, I feel this kitset looks stunning with the big light pods hanging off the front as night stages are for many the true test of a real rally driver.