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Sunday, 14 February, 2016 - 18:49 (UK)  

..:: The Subaru Impreza Story

1. The Subaru Impreza Story, as told by me
2. The History of the Subaru Impreza
3. Special Editions
4. Image Galleries
5. My 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX - Red Mica


..:: The History of the Subaru Impreza

Subaru is a subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries. Which was originally Nakajima Aircraft back in 1917. It's wasn't until 1954 before Fuji Heavy Industries took on the challenge of building a road car. The name of this car was the P-1 (Nothing like the modern Subaru Impreza P1) which stood for Prototype-1. This name was later changed to the Subaru 1500. And here the Subaru was born. The name Subaru Closely translates to reference the star cluster Pleiades, which is the same famous star cluster that we see make up the subaru logo today. over the decades Subaru continued to build motor cars and in 1972 made it's first 4WD car with the Subaru Leone 4WD Station Wagon. From that point onwards Subaru made something for a name for it's self in the 4WD motor car department, almost like a trade mark. Think Subaru, think All Wheel Drive. However it wasn't until 1992 that the Subaru Impreza was born. So let's pick up the story from there.

1992

The Launch of the Subaru Impreza (Japan) The Subaru Impreza was developed after rule changes in the World Rally Championship (WRC) demanded a replacement to the Subaru Legacy which was previously used by Subaru in the WRC. The changes meant that a new smaller, lighter and faster car was required in order to compete in the WRC. So even from day one, the Subaru Impreza was developed for rallying.

1993

The Subaru Impreza reached the UK. Initially the Subaru Impreza was available in both Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions. However the FWD was soon dropped in preference of the trademark Subaru AWD system.

1994

The Turbo Charged Impreza 2000 AWD reached the UK (Known as the Subaru Impreza WRX in Japan). Also in 2004, Subaru Technica International (STI) was born and we started seeing STI versions of the Subaru Impreza Turbo. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI meant much more than an extra badge on the body. The STI stood for a full upgrading of the Subaru Impreza Taking was was learned on the World Rally stages and incorporating developments into the road car. Many areas were upgraded for the Subaru Impreza STI versions. Engine, Suspension and overall performance and handling greatly improved over the standard car. Top speed was limited to 155mph and 0-62 came in at just 4.7seconds for the Impreza STI. These figures made the Subaru Impreza very sought after by the local boy racers. Albeit a bit more expensive than the your every day Peugeot 205 and Vauxhall Nova.

1995

Subaru won the World Rally Championship in a 555 WRC Subaru Impreza driven by fellow Scotsman Colin McRae. A brilliant achievement for both driver and manufacturer. Driver Colin McRae for being the first ever British driver to win the WRC, and Subaru proved that the Impreza was a World Leading rally car. To mark the success of Subaru winning the WRC championship that year, a special edition Subaru Impreza was released in the form of the McRae Series Subaru Impreza.

1996

Subaru took the manufacturer title for a second year in a row, and promptly released another special edition Impreza knows as the Subaru Impreza Catalunya.

1997

Subaru won a hat-trick of manufacturer championships and celebrated once again by releasing a new special edition Impreza. The Subaru Impreza Terzo (Italian for 3rd). Only 333 Subaru Impreza Terzos were made, as a mark of the three championships won with the Subaru Impreza. 1997 also saw a few changes to the Impreza road car. Interior styling was updated including an exclusive MOMO racing steering wheel. Meanwhile STI versions were given an newly designed rear spoiler. In Japan a special 2-door coupe Subaru Impreza was released which was used as the 1998 WRC car.

1998

The Subaru Impreza 22B. A label that often conjures up thoughts of what the ultimate Subaru Impreza might be. The 22B (Note: for the computer geeks out there, 22B in hex converts to 555 in decimal.) provided a 2.2l boxer engine, more hardcore styling all round including 2-doors instead of 4 and an adjustable rear wing made up just some of the key features of the 22B. Only 400 22B's were made in order to celebrate 40 years of Subaru and only 16 of those were destined for the UK. I've seen three in total!! UK versions also had tweaked gearing which was specifically optimised to UK roads. How cool is that!

1999

To celebrate the new driver lineup of Richard Burns in the Subaru World Rally Team, Subaru decided it was once again time for a special edition. This time the RB5 named after Richard Burns. Sadly in November 2003 Richard Burns was diagnosed with a form of brain tumour and later died on the 25th November 2005 from his illness. This makes the RB5 all the more special now. Only 444 RB5's were made, with the option of the WR Sport pack.

1999 Also saw the release of another special edition. The Subaru Impreza P1, which like the Subaru Impreza 22B was a 2-door coupe model, and like the 22B it was only available in WR Blue. However unlike the 22B the Subaru Impreza P1 delivered a 276bhp out of the box, and supporting a whole load of new accessories such as 10-spoke OZ Titanium racing wheels, improved quick-shift gearbox, rear-wiper, new front wing/splitter, new fog lamps and a new exclusive rear wing. Unlike the Impreza 22B there were 1,000 P1's made. Despite this the Subaru Impreza P1 remains one of the most expensive Subaru Impreza's to buy today.

       

2000

For eight years, the Subaru Impreza remained more or less unchanged (externally) until 2000 where Subaru decided to update the Impreza for the 21st century. This change was met with mixed views. The appropriately labeled Bug-eye version by critics, was just that. Bug-eyed! One can only guess it was Subaru's attempt to make the Impreza all cute and cuddly. But this didn't go down well with the fans. Many NewAge impreza's promptly had their headlights replaces with WRC look-alike HI-Definition (HiD) lamps or the more aggressive looking Morette cluster. What was in favour of the fans was the globalisation of the WRX name. Previously only used in Japan, the WRX badge was now stuck to any Impreza with a Turbo!

2001

To celebrate Richard Burns's win in the WRC and the launch of the of the new model, Subaru decided to launch yet another special edition Impreza. This time the Subaru Impreza UK300. Once again just like the 22B and P1 the only colour available was WR Blue. The UK300 supported new prodrive styled spoilers of which the rear wing looked like was picked from bit of an airfix kit and not put together properly. Thankfully the front end was improved slightly, with the addition of improved HiD headlamps which made the car look slightly less like a bug. Yet no matter what they did, it was still going to be remembered as the Bug-Eyed version. 2001 also saw the arrival of the NewAge (Must stop calling it bug-eyed) Subaru Impreza WRX STI to the UK. Just like previous STI's, this was based on the WRX but tweaked a little by the Subaru Technica International (STI) team. If that wasn't enough there was also the option of a Prodrive Performance Pack (PPP). The Subaru Imrpeza WRX STI saw a few key changes over the standard Subaru Impreza WRX. This time, the addition of a 6-speed gearbox as opposed to the WRX 5-speed. Also a nice welcome was similar headlamps which were found on the UK300.

2002

It didn't take long before Subaru had to give in to pressure from fans and go back to the drawing board (literally) to come up with a new style Subaru Impreza. So in 2002, Subaru announced yet another NewAge Impreza. The MY03. Main difference here was the front end. More or less everything else stayed the same, but those bug-eyed headlamps were out and replaced with slightly less ugly ones. Also a bigger bonnet scoop was included. Not to be outdone, the Subaru Impreza WRX power was increased by 10bhp. Not surprisingly many Bug-eyed Subaru Impreza's were made available on the 2nd hand market as many owners wanted to change their driveway accessory for the new style Subaru Impreza.

Although Turbo versions of the Subaru Impreza were available in Japan and Europe from more or less day one. The US favoured their muscle cars and not these Japanese breed of performance cars. Which meant the Subaru Impreza Turbo's never "officially" reached US soil until the 2002 model. Any previous Subaru Impreza's were Imports. Unfortunately for the US market the famous 2.0l boxer engine had to go. The fuel regulations in the US meant that the high performance expected from the Subaru Impreza could not be achieved from the 2.0l engine with US fuel. Instead, the Subaru Impreza was given a nice new 2.5l boxer engine for the US market, in order to keep the power and performance up.

2004

Another Subaru WRC title win with Petter Solberg at the wheel. Once again sticking with tradition a new special edition was released, known as the Subaru Impreza WR1. I must admit the WR1 is one of my personal favourites, if only because of the unique Ice Blue colour. Only 500 WR1's were made, but Subaru decided to throw everything at it, including PPP and Driver Controlled Centre Diff (DCCD). The Subaru Impreza WRX STI also saw further improvements in 2004 with upgraded mechanics from the Japanese models. This new revised STI saw a new front diff, along with the DCCD system which was found on the WR1 and UK300 models. Nice!

2005

Towards the end of 2005. Again just 2 years after the previous model was replaced, Subaru decided to release another new bodied Subaru Impreza, the MY06. This time with new crystal rear light cluster and yet another new front end. The jury is still out about whether or not it is a hit or a miss. I personally think it looks Awesome. Almost as though Subaru have forgotten the last 5 years and gone back to the aggressive styling of the original Subaru Impreza from the 90's! I admit, it did take a few days to get used to, but after you see past the SEAT grill and BMW headlamps you soon realise that this is the sort of car you want other people to see you in, in their rear view mirror. (Admittedly briefly as you scream past them shortly after words :) Sadly the MY06 marked the end for the traditional 2.0l boxer engine. Instead we saw the introduction of the 2.5l boxer engine into the Subaru Impreza. A sad end which seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. But then think of what they can do with that extra 500cubic centimetres of space. Mwaahaahaahaa!...

2006

Towards the end of 2006. Subaru / Prodrive announced the realease of a new Special Edition Impreza. Sadly without recent success in the WRC. This time the special edition was to celebrate the life of previous Subaru WRC Champion Richard Burns who sadly died 12 months previously due to a brain tumour. The New Special Edition Subaru Impreza was to be named the RB320. That's 320bhp and a limited number of 320 to be produced. Essentially the RB320 is a 2006 model Subaru Impeza WRX STi PPP with just abotu ever add on you can think of, along with bespoke prodrive/blitsen dampers, exclusive obsidian black paint work, black alloys and full dront grill set. All in all making the RB320 very exclusive and ver agressive looking with only small markings on the passenger, drivers doors and boot lid of a small orange RB320 logo. The rest of the car is very much black in respect for the late Richard Burns. A true trubite to a great champion!

       

2007

I have yet to come up with a word that describes Subaru in 2007. At the time of writing Subaru had recently announced the drascically redesigned 2008 model of the Subaru Impreza (You can see some photos here) Make your own mind up about what you think of it. My initial thoughts are yuk.. And I have to say my thoughts are still more or less the same. The car does NOT look agressive as it shoudl and just looks like any other family hatchback on the road. a fair pecentage of the Impreza's appeal has always been it's agressive shape and styling. Even teh bugeye version admitedly wasn't welcomed by many had the trademark styling that for every other angle you knew it was an Impreza and more importantly a car to be reckoned with!. This new one doesn't do much for me I'm afraid. Doesn't excite me when I see pictures of it like previous styles. The same recipie is still there usign the same 2.5l boxer engine from teh MY06 models, a new intercooler has been shoved in. Power remains teh same at 225ps for the WRX model, awd as standard of course :). However the tyres are narrower than previous versions. Also it's worth noting that at time of writing there are no plans for a WRX version or saloon version for the UK. Instead we'll have the basic models then a jump up to the STi's I see this as a mistake as the WRX hits a just about affordable market for most peopel who cant afford te £25k price of the STi. However somethign new for the MY08 Impreza will be the introduction of a 170bhp Diesel Impreza. Thats right diesel. Should be interesting...Watch this space...

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New Ford Mustang - Five generations of America's pony car tested
Ford Mustang five generations As the new Mustang hits the UK, this time with right-hand drive and official backing, we check out the five previous iterations of the galloping Ford

?A steed for every need.? That?s how Ford described the 11 drivetrain combinations available by the Mustang?s fifth birthday in 1969.

By then, more than two million examples of the pioneering pony car had been sold ? a landmark it took Land Rover 57 years to reach with the Series Land Rover and Defender. Today, as the right-hand-drive, officially imported sixth-generation model arrives, sales are nearing the 10 million mark.

Yet the galloping ?Stang has barely created a tremor in the UK. There have been official imports before ? even right-hookers, as we?ll see ? but most of us fill the space between the legendary first-gen car and the outgoing model with little more than a fog of vague recollection.

Today, we?re joining the dots all the way from 1964 to 2014. We have each of the five generations of Ford Mustang on hand ? all privately owned, and all V8s, naturally. Now, there are online tracts dedicated to the minutiae of model years and variants should you wish to explore them. Instead, we?re going to sketch the outline of each car before shading in with first-hand driving impressions. So let the 40-pot cubefest begin?

?Classic? (1964?1973)

This is genesis, the car that created a formula to last 50 years: sporting bodywork over a compact chassis (by American standards, at least), front engine, rear drive and live rear axle. Although notchback (read two-door saloon) and convertible bodies were available, as were straight sixes, it was the combination of fastback coupé styling and V8 power that best matched the Mustang?s performance pretensions and elevated it above the Ford Falcon upon which it was based.

Cue Tony Pook?s breathtaking, Signal Flare Red 1966 Fastback in GT trim. Although first-gen Mustangs were available through a UK concessionaire, Pook bought his last year fresh from Arizona following a thorough restoration. The Mustang was created with tinkering in mind, and Pook?s car features a transplanted engine, the original 210bhp, 289cu in (4727cc) small-block overhead-valve ?Windsor? V8 having been replaced by a 230bhp, 302cu in (4942cc) version of the same that runs a four-barrel Edelbrock carb.

Installed in the largely original interior, I drink in the distinctive layout, finish and details: twin-cowl dashboard with wooden inserts, thin-rimmed wheel embellished with mother-of-pearl, chromed switches and compressed speedo font.

The V8 fires into a steady idle and begins to bellow as I pull away. More pedal pressure and the bellow deepens then gains a growling overdub - a softer soundtrack than Frank Bullitt?s big-block 6.4-litre 390 GT?s snarling wall of sound, but classier, too. The car isn?t especially quick (think 8.5sec to 60mph), but the powertrain?s noise, keen throttle response and top-end poke prove extremely addictive.

The ride is loping but stable and isn?t the limiting factor when cornering. That falls to the delayed action of the over-assisted recirculating ball steering that?s further hampered by an understeer habit, as nearly 60% of the car?s 1400kg burdens the front axle.

Mustang II (1974?1978)

The white car here is the black sheep among our group. A spluttering economy, rising oil prices and tightened emissions regulations blighted the pony car sector and the Mustang had to adapt to survive. The original car had stretched to 4763mm by its final iteration and had once forged more ?than 500bhp (in 1969?s 7.0-litre Boss 429 special). Something smaller and cleaner was needed.

This time, the little Ford Pinto provided the underpinnings, shrinking the Mustang to 4445mm. During its first year, engines were limited to an almost unbelievably meek 88bhp four-pot and a 105bhp version of the 2.8-litre Cologne V6 later seen in the Mk3 Capri.

Yet it was a forecourt success, tripling sales to 386,000 in 1974. The 302 V8 returned in 1975, making just 122bhp. So equipped is Tony Wilcox?s notchback Mustang II Ghia.

Ghia spec includes the part-vinyl roof and a plump, cosy burgundy boudoir of an interior that?s mainly trimmed in velour and adventurously textured plastics. The big surprise is a starboard-mounted tiller, an official conversion supplied via Ford?s imports office in Mayfair. The Mustang II remained the only sanctioned right-hand-drive UK model until 2015.

Underpowered or not, it?s still a V8, rumbling at idle. It chugs endearingly under load and offers unexpected perkiness above 3000rpm, although progress remains stately. The primary ride is (almost) as forgiving as the plush upholstery, but sharper bumps resonate. The steering is far more responsive than in the ?66 but spookily light in constant-radius cornering.

This ?Stang kept the nameplate alive during a difficult period and deserves recognition for that.

?Fox body? (1979?1993)

These were still uncertain times, but upon the Fox platform (which supported myriad Fords, Mercurys and Lincolns) the Mustang was slowly and tentatively ushered back into performance territory. Facelifts in 1983 and 1987 modernised its design inside and out, rear leaf springs were at last dropped in favour of coils and a five-speed manual gearbox emerged.

Don Hardy works at Ford?s Dagenham engine plant and is a Fox hunter of the legal kind, owning several and co-founding the ?Fox Doctors? owners club. 

By the time his 1987 car was built, carburettors had been dropped altogether, and his High Output V8 (still the venerable 302) makes a decent 225bhp. Drop-tops were reintroduced after their Series II absence, but Hardy?s is one of a few tin-top GTs adapted by coachbuilder American Sunroof Corporation into two-seat convertibles designed to court Mercedes-Benz SL fans with a bodykit, fared-in roof mechanism and lashings of hide to embellish the two-tone plastic interior.

Despite the oddly high seating position that brushes my head against a roof cross member, the Fox has a lower, sportier stance than the Mustang II. The speedo goes up to only 85mph, but contemporary tests put the car?s top speed at just under 150mph, with 0-60mph taking 6.4sec. It?s tractable from below 2500rpm, meaning kickdown isn?t essential for overtaking, yet some of the ?66 Fastback?s bellowing urgency is revived in the Fox?s 4000-5000rpm sweet spot.

The steering is much improved, too - not quick, but consistent and with some feel - and although the ride remains soft with occasional jitters, body control is far neater than before. It?s a driving experience that?s easily recognisable ?as a Mustang?s.

In the light of the 2015 Mustang?s entry-level 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine, an apposite side note to the Fox?s story is the 1984 limited-run, twin-spoilered SVO, which used a turbocharged version of the Mustang II?s 2.3 to make 175bhp with the help of an IMSA racing-bred intercooler. The SVO impressed at the time with its combination of performance, composure and understeer-curbing set-up.

SN95 and ?New Edge? (1994?2004)

The Fox platform was heavily modified rather than replaced for the SN95-generation car (introducing range-wide all-disc brakes in the process) but it was the end of the line for the small-block Windsor V8, retired in 1995 after three decades of Mustang service. Although the SN95?s 302 produced a still-conservative 215bhp, there was a final flourish for the Windsor in the stroked 300bhp 5.8-litre SVT Cobra R road-going racer.

A 3.8-litre Essex V6 anchored the range, but the GT?s engine bay was filled with a 16-valve SOHC version of Ford?s new modular 4.6-litre V8. Initially no more powerful than the 302, its output rose to 260bhp for the 1999 facelift that also sharpened the exterior to fit Ford?s global ?New Edge? design language.

After a 30-year canter, the Mustang finally broke into a gallop again in 2003. The New Edge SVT Cobra - ?the first (and until 2015 the only) Mustang with independent rear suspensiovn - produced 390bhp using a supercharged 32-valve DOHC version of the 4.6 V8 to hit 60mph in 4.6sec. The Mach 1 badge, introduced in 1969, was revived to sit below it, bringing us to Kevin Mortimer-Hampson?s car.

Its extrovert exterior is countered by a conservative cabin: plastic-heavy but functional, with gentle nods to early Mustangs. Upon ignition, the ?shaker? air scoop justifies its name, quaking atop a naturally aspirated 32-valve 4.6 that makes 305bhp in stock form but more like 360bhp here, thanks to intake and exhaust upgrades and a custom remap. The engine note is higher-pitched than the small block?s but still aggressive, and the exhaust tone is moreishly thunderous. From 2800rpm, there?s real clout, too.

Although the suspension is factory-lowered, the ride is extremely comfortable, yet the accompanying dive and roll are stable. A chunky aftermarket short-shift kit requires little articulation between five manual ratios but takes two deliberate movements, and the over-light steering doesn?t reassure. But the Mach 1 proves a barnstorming cruiser, and great fun for it.

S197 (2005?2014)

It was back to the future when the next Mustang was previewed at the 2003 Detroit motor show; the GT concept traced the silhouette of the original Fastback and borrowed plenty of exterior and interior details. The S197 production model retained most of that atop Ford?s D2C platform, which was related to the Jaguar S-Type?s. New front suspension was influenced by the Mondeo, yet the modified rear axle remained solid.

But the new car was also more than 150mm longer and wider than the original and around 300kg heavier. Indeed, Patrick Howson?s 2005 car makes the ?66 Fastback look delicate and petite. Although a V6 engine and convertible body were available, like most S197s imported to the UK, Howson?s is a GT coupé featuring a 300bhp 24-valve version of the 4.6 V8 equipped with variable valve timing.

By European yardsticks, it?s not sophisticated, but the S197 is a far slicker proposition than any of its forebears in both quality and dynamics, from the upgraded interior finishes to the well-weighted, progressive steering and vastly improved body control. There?s even a heightened appetite for cornering, partly due to a front-end mass that?s closer to 50% than 60%.

The five-speed auto ?box doesn?t get the best from the V8 and the screaming aftermarket exhaust isn?t quite equalled by the engine?s performance; 4000rpm is needed before it really starts to heave. (For full fireworks, see the 653bhp supercharged 5.8-litre GT500 from 2013.) But this is still a 5.2sec-to-60mph car and the most complete Mustang so far.

A 2010 makeover was followed by the introduction of the new Coyote version of the modular V8 - a 5.0-litre, 32-valve DOHC unit good for 412bhp. And it?s this engine and the S197?s retro design ethos that form the building blocks of the 2015 Mustang.

It has been a treat to drive these diverse cars, each one an idiosyncratic character that reinterpreted the Mustang spirit for its time. For our time, there?s independent rear suspension, right-hand drive and official UK sales. We could be the luckiest ones yet.

Badge engineering

Before the ??Mustang? name was signed off, ?Avanti?, ?Allegro?, ?Torino? and ?Cougar? were all considered, the last even being realised into a feline badge on late pre-production cars.

Although other horse emblems were considered, the winning sketch came from Phil Clark, designer of the Mk1 Capri. In some applications, patriotic red, white and blue bars were added and a ?corral? border was applied on the grille to enclose the horse. In 1963 modeller Charles Keresztes revised Clark?s design in clay before finalising it in a wooden sculpture, and the badge has barely changed since.

Read our full review of the latest Ford Mustang

2016 Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet previewed with new design sketch
2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet New open-top Mercedes-Benz C-Class will be revealed at the Geneva motor show before going on sale in the UK in the summer

Mercedes-Benz has issued an official design sketch of the upcoming C-Class Cabriolet, which will make its global debut at the Geneva motor show next month, before going on sale in the UK this summer.

Accompanying the image is a short statement, saying: "For the first time in the history of this model series, there will also be a C-Class Cabriolet. The sporty four-seater with a soft top is based on the successful coupé version."

Set to join saloon, coupé and estate versions of the fourth-generation C-Class in an ever-burgeoning Mercedes-Benz line-up, the C-Class Cabriolet has previously been spotted testing in the run-up to its launch. While the car's styling remains similar to that of the C-Class Coupé, a longer rear deck is expected, as well as a windscreen-mounted air deflector and a deployable wind break. The car's interior will be identical to that of other C-Class models. 

The rear-wheel-drive convertible will be offered with the same six-cylinder petrol and four-cylinder diesel engines as the coupé. Included in the line-up will be a C450 Sport model, which will feature a 362bhp twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine and will be capable of reaching 62mph in less than five seconds. A plug-in hybrid model based on the C350e is also planned.

A high-performance Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet should join the range before the end of 2016. Like the saloon, it is expected to be powered by AMG's twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine with 469bhp in standard form and 503bhp in range-topping C63 S guise.

As with other models in the range, the C-Class Cabriolet will be offered with two different suspension systems. The car?s standard set-up will feature conventional springs and dampers, but Mercedes-Benz?s AirMatic arrangement will be optional.

Read more Geneva motor show news

How to avoid buying a flood-damaged car
flood-damaged car Storms and floods such as those that have battered the UK in the last few months can have a big impact on car owners

You can easily spot one of the 250 flooded write-offs at Michael Douglas Auto Salvage in Carlisle.

Not only because it has the word ?floody? scrawled on the windscreen but also because it?s covered with a film of brown silt.

Move closer and you can see the heavy condensation on the windows, dirty water in the headlights and a tide mark in the engine bay. Open the driver?s door ? being careful to stand back to allow the stench of sewage and flood water to escape ? and water sloshes in the door pockets, while silt covers the floor, the seats and much of the fascia. The steering wheel is a circle of green mould.

It and the other flooded cars started arriving at the breaker?s yard in December, soon after storm Desmond and then storms Eva ?and Frank did their worst ? and they?re still coming.

?People have had more urgent problems to deal with, such as clearing their flooded homes,? says owner Michael Douglas. ?Many people are only now thinking about what to do with their flooded cars.?

The Association of British Insurers says that as a result of December?s storms, its members have received 5600 claims for flood-damaged vehicles. It expects the total value of these claims to be about £26 million, a figure that applies to comprehensively insured cars that are covered for flood damage.

Most will be written off and their owners paid a settlement cheque by the insurer to cover its replacement. The most seriously damaged ones will be declared category A or B write-offs, and will then be scrapped or crushed.

The less seriously damaged will be flagged as category C or D. These ?can be returned to the road after repair, although a category C car must be inspected first.

Cars with third-party cover ?are not insured for flood damage. ?As a result, depending on its condition, the owner of a flooded ?car has little choice but to sell it as scrap to a vehicle breaker such as Michael Douglas, for around £90.

However, experts are concerned that desperate owners who cannot afford to scrap their car (or even owners of comprehensively insured cars who cannot afford to lose their no-claims bonus) may be tempted to dry it out and sell it on to an unsuspecting buyer. Admittedly, ?the nature of modern vehicles, with their complex electrical systems, means that only the least flood-damaged cars could pass undetected, but it?s a risk nonetheless.

Earlier this month Neil Hodson, deputy managing director of vehicle information company Cap HPI, warned car buyers to be on the lookout for rising numbers of ?flood-damaged cars entering the ?car market in the coming months.

?There?s a danger that some car owners may try to sell on their flood-damaged vehicle, once its interior has dried out and it has been cleaned,? he said. ?Omitting its history will leave the new owner in the dark about its real condition.?

James Carswell, of Scotia Vehicle Inspections in Glasgow, has inspected hundreds of flood-damaged cars in recent weeks and fears that many third-party-insured cars will be sold on in a dangerous and contaminated state.

?I expect hundreds of flooded third-party vehicles will come onto the market,? he says. ?I went to Otley in Yorkshire to inspect a flood-damaged Ford Transit mini-bus recently. It should have been scrapped, but the owner said he couldn?t afford to and that instead he?d fix it up and sell it on.?

December?s floods are not the ?first to have struck UK towns and cities. Michael Ward, a used car inspector based in Bradford, recalls examining a Suzuki Vitara for a customer when the car was advertised for sale shortly after ?the city was flooded in 2007. ?The car had no write-off history, ?but Ward suspected that it had been the victim of flooding.

?The metal frames under the seats and dashboard were badly corroded,? he says. ?I advised ?my customer not to buy it.?

Ward agrees with Carswell that previously flooded, third-party-insured cars are those most likely to be sold on, but he says they won?t necessarily be the older cars usually associated with this level of cover.

?Many fleet cars are only third-party insured and I expect some of the least damaged will be offered for sale without their history being disclosed, rather than being scrapped,? he says.

Carswell says it?s not only mainstream but also classic cars ?that are destined to be repaired and sold on. ?I have inspected over two dozen classics in recent weeks, all of them flooded mid-refurbishment,? he says. ?Their owners had each accepted an average £15,000 insurance settlement, which some planned to spend on repairing the car before selling it.?

Back at the breaker?s yard, ?Douglas reflects on the human tragedy behind each of his 250 flooded cars. ?For people who lost their homes in the floods, losing their car was the last straw,? he ?says. ?Without a car, how do they ?get their kids to school? How do ?they get to work??

One can only hope that in their desperation to be back on the road, they don?t buy someone else?s ?dried-out ?floody?. 

Tips on how to ?avoid buying a flood-damaged car

Check the windows - open and close

Sniff the seats ?and headlining

Check the carpets are dry and the windows free of condensation

Look for premature rust

Check under the bonnet for discoloration and ?a tide mark

Check that all the dashboard lights work

Check if the windows steam up after you ?turn on the heater

Check the light clusters for trapped water and condensation

Take it for a drive, checking for smooth running and no wheel bearing noises

If in doubt, have ?it professionally inspected

John Evans

2016 Skoda Superb 2.0 TSI 280 4x4 DSG review
The Skoda Superb is a practical, economical family hack, or is it? What if you were to add a 276bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and four-wheel drive? If you like a Q-car, then they don?t come any more cloaked than this Skoda Superb 2.0 TSI 280 4x4 DSG. You'd need to be an MI6 recruit to spot the twin exhaust tailpipes poking out from beneath the rear bumper - the only clues to its extra potency.That comes courtesy of the 276bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that once powered the Seat Leon Cupra 280, and it?s coupled to permanent four-wheel drive and a quick-shifting six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.Those are handy attributes, because they pretty much guarantee no bogging down, flurries of wheelspin, or a fluffed gearchange when you?re wiping the smiles off spotty-faced youths in hot hatches as you disappear away from the lights.

Cholmondeley Pageant of Power gets a new name and features for 2016
Cholmondeley Pageant of Power The renamed Cholmondeley Power & Speed event returns this June with a new focus on supercars

The Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, held annually on the picturesque Cholmondeley Castle estate near Chester, has been renamed Cholmondeley Power & Speed for 2016 and has been launched with a raft of new features.

The event, now in its ninth year, moves away from what had become its usual clash with Le Mans to now run on 10-12 June.

For 2016, the event's central theme will be 'Supercars, Past Present and Future' and there will be a new road test element on the event?s opening day - Friday 10 June - which is dubbed Motorshow Live, during which car makers and dealers will offer prospective customers a chance to drive new cars on the track, which is regarded by those who know it as one of the best of its kind in Europe.

Cholmondeley drew record crowds last year, says event director James Hall, and has considerable potential for further expansion. ?We have a racetrack that rewards power and speed and felt it was time for these key factors to be better represented in the event name.

?We?ve teamed our new name with a revised format that allows us to offer manufacturers a hands-on experience for their guests, who will see first-hand what makes our track special,? says Hall.

Unlike other weekend motorsport festivals, Cholmondeley combines its motorsport action with speedboat action on an adjacent lake, army manoeuvres in an adjacent field and a series of air displays.

See more pictures from 2015's Pageant of Power

       

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