On September 5 2004, Petter Solberg brought home his Subaru Impreza World Rally Car 555 SRT to win Rally Japan. It was his 8th and Subaru’s 42nd WRC win.
The PRO-WRC 04008 was the eighth chassis to be built by Prodrive for the 2004 season and it was initially used by Petter to claim third place at Rally Turkey in June that year. After Japan, the car was taken back to Prodrive in Banbury where it was fully stripped and rebuilt for Petter to drive at Rally Australia in November, where he retired. The car was returned to Banbury once more to be rebuilt for Colin McRae to compete at the Bettega Memorial Rally Sprint in Monza.
The car led Rally Japan from start to finish, claiming 11 stage wins and finishing more than a minute ahead of Sebastien Loeb. At the end of the 2004 championship, the car was fully rebuilt by Prodrive and sold on to a private team to compete under a new registration, UT53 SRT.
After having several different owners, Prodrive Legends inspected and then acquired the car for a private owner in 2019 and Prodrive’s experienced technicians, many of whom had worked on the original car, began restoring it back to how it was when it competed in Japan.
The car was brought into the Prodrive Legends workshop, stripped to the bare bodyshell and then shot blasted using a plastic medium so the paint was removed without damaging the steel shell.
The whole chassis was then measured and inspected to ensure it was still true to the original car in 2004, which in this case it was. The shell was repaired in our bodyshop, being mindful to replace only the panels where absolutely necessary, to retain the authenticity. For instance, the stone damaged underfloor and arches were kept as they were. Some parts like the sills were re-fabricated in house.
The car was sent to the original company who painted the car in 2004. In this way we could be sure that every aspect was authentic from the masking around the roll cage to the satin finish on the interior, which was originally left unlacquered to save weight.
The finished chassis was brought back into the workshop where the rebuild of the car commenced.
We have the original documentation, including the specific build schedule for this car for Rally Japan in 2004. This meant we have been able to precisely recreate the car as it was for that event for Petter, including all his particular suspension settings; his preferred seat and pedal box position; even to where his water bottle was placed, making the car totally authentic to that event.
SUB ASSEMBLY REBUILD
Each sub assembly was stripped and inspected. The suspension was cracked tested and rebuilt with new bearings and seals. The brake calipers were rebuilt but the brake discs replaced. The original fuel cell was worn and leaking and was replaced.
The original Rally Japan livery was applied to the car by the very same person who applied it in 2004 to ensure every detail matched the original.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Using the original build schedule we have been able to faithfully restore the vehicle to the exact specification for Rally Japan for Petter Solberg, with detailing which would otherwise be impossible without this document.
We created a template for the heat shielding in the engine bay which varies from rally to rally and had it made by the original manufacturer. Petter’s door pocket is exactly where he wanted it; the velcro indicator for the spare tyre direction has been reproduced; we sent the seats back to Sparco to be retrimmed; found a set of original tyres for the time; an original jack; period harnesses; the FIA WRC camera housing on the roof; the correct steel and aluminium bolts for the front and rear door hinges; and a Nokia 6310 phone which was used to communicate to the team in the service park. We even sourced the lucky charm given to all the Subaru team by STI on Rally Japan and put it in the car.