Buttoned-up engineering, unbuttoned.
BRZ Limited shown
Prodrive has become a prominent independent racing and technology
company over the past two decades. Headquartered in England, its successes and achievements
have paralleled those of Subaru in a racing partnership that has outlasted many
When driving south from Birmingham to London in England, don't be surprised to see WRXs peeling off the M40 motorway near Banbury in the middle of the night. Those in the know see lights from a building with the single word Prodrive on its side, and they must turn off to pay homage.
"It's Mecca for Sube fans," says Steve Webb, Public Relations Manager for the 555 Subaru World Rally Team (SWRT). The innocuous-looking, white building complex is home to the SWRT, and its legions of fans hope to sneak a glimpse of their favorite Subaru racecars – new ones or the legendary ones on display.
How did a Japanese rally team come to establish its headquarters in England? The answer is simple. Britain is home to many leading auto-racing teams – not only in rallying but also in Formula One. Consequently, there's a healthy infrastructure of suppliers and skilled racecar engineers and builders in Britain.
In 1989, Subaru realized rallying would be an excellent arena in which to showcase its all-wheel-drive technology. Subaru turned to Prodrive. Success was swift. A modified Legacy quickly became a competitive rally car, winning the next three British Rally Championship titles – the first two with Colin McRae and the third with Richard Burns.
Then 10 years ago, Prodrive developed a World Rally Championship (WRC) car using the Impreza. The rest is rallying history: The team has won three manufacturer's and two driver's world championships since, and the Impreza WRX, Colin McRae and Richard Burns have become rallying icons.
Obviously, the skills of the driver and co-driver are key ingredients to a successful rally team, but without a car that is reliable and fast, they will not win. That's why a top-notch organization such as Prodrive is so important to the success that Subaru has enjoyed.
Prodrive – The Company
David Richards founded Prodrive in 1984, soon after he retired as a championship-winning rally co-driver.
With all this experience in the high-tech, high-pressure world of racing, it's only natural that Prodrive also has expanded into developing cars and components for many auto manufacturers. In all, Prodrive employs nearly 900 people in five countries.
For details about the company, its competitive programs and its engineering initiatives, check out www.prodrive.com.
John Rettie – a rally enthusiast for more than 35 years – is a well-known writer, photographer, consultant and analyst covering the automotive, photography and high technology industries.