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Trio of ex-Colin McRae rally legends up for sale

WORDS: ELLIOTT HUGHES | PHOTOS: SILVERSTONE AUCTIONS

Silverstone Auctions is offering three rally cars from the personal collection of the late World Rally Champion Colin McRae at this year’s Silverstone Festival on August 26, 2023.

The trio of models – which were personally acquired by McRae – are a 1977 Chrysler Sunbeam Ti Group A, 1992 Subaru Legacy RS Group A and 2005 Ford Escort Mk2 McRae. Consigned directly from the McRae family, the machines are the Scot’s first, last and favourite challengers. They are expected to sell for a combined price of £750,000.

McRae won the 1995 WRC Championship aboard an iconic 555-liveried Impreza after a fierce and controversial season-long battle against Spanish rival and team-mate Carlos Sainz. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the Scot is most often associated with the Impreza during his time as a Subaru driver – yet his story with the Japanese manufacturer began with the 1992 Subaru Legacy RS offered by Silverstone Auctions.

In only his second year as a professional after signing with David Richards’ Prodrive outfit, McRae used the Legacy RS to win the British Rally Championship in 1992. Powered by a Works 2.0-litre turbo boxer engine, the Legacy RS produced 350bhp and features the Prodrive four-wheel-drive system and a six-speed h-pattern dogleg transmission. 

The Rothmans-liveried machine dominated the 1992 season, and McRae became the only person in British Rally Championship history to take a clean sweep of six wins on his way to title glory. 

Colin’s Legacy was restored to its original specification 15 years ago, although it will need new safety equipment installed to be eligible for competition. The car has been fully checked over by rally specialist BGMSport in Brackley ahead of the auction, where it is expected to cross the block for £380,000–£450,000 ($477,850–$565,880)

The 1977 Chrysler Sunbeam Ti Group A offered for sale holds particular significance as the first rally car McRae owned. Colin came to acquire the Chrysler after taking part in his first rally, the 1985 Kames Stages, in a borrowed Hillman Avenger that he used to finish 14th overall and first in class despite dropping off the side of the road. 

Keen to continue his rallying career, McRae decided to sell his autotest Mini and then purchase the Sunbeam for the princely sum of £850. He was so attached to the car that it is said he would never have sold it had his life not been cut so tragically short, in 2007.

The first event that McRae took part in with the Sunbeam was the Galloway Hills Rally in 1985, which unfortunately ended in a collision with a tree. The crash meant the car had a new engine fitted and its bodyshell repaired in the winter of ’85, ahead of an assault on the 1986 Group A Scottish Rally Championship. Colin would finish six of eight rallies that year, driving the Sunbeam to 18th place in the championship. 

McRae family mechanic Barry Lochead was tasked with fully restoring the Sunbeam in the early 2000s, and as with the Legacy RS, the car runs but needs new safety equipment to be competition ready. Silverstone Auctions expects it to fetch £80,000–£100,000 ($100,500–$125,700)

The final car on offer is the 2005 Ford Escort Mk2 McRae that was last driven by the Scot in the year he passed away. Mk2 Escorts were clearly very special to McRae, because it was the model his father used to start rallying, and served as a source of childhood inspiration.

“The Mk2 is the rally car of all time,” Colin said. “When my father started rallying, these were the type of rear-wheel-drive cars that were at the top level of the sport. I remember watching in the forests, and they always sounded the best and looked the most spectacular – sideways. Ever since, they have stuck in my mind.”

This experience led to the consigned car’s creation in 2002, when McRae enlisted Dave Plant of DJM Race Preparation in Newark to get the project underway. Plant and his team were asked to convert a Mk2 donor to full rally specifications with bespoke fully independent suspension and a full T45 rollcage. The agile Escort weighs just 930kg and starred in a famous video of McRae tackling the iconic Molls Gap stage of the Killarney Rally in Ireland with co-driver Nicky Grist.

Again, the homologation of the Escort’s safety equipment has lapsed and will need updating for competition use. McRae’s Ford has a pre-auction estimate of £140,000–£180,000 ($176,000–$226,000).

For more information, contact Nick Whale of Silverstone Auctions at nick@silverstoneauctions.com (+44 (0)7831 440158).