Home / Social media / Cars / Rally legend Colin McRae's first rally car is not what you think, but it's still awesome!


If you don’t know of Colin McRae and you’re here, you may not have ever been a rally or WRC fan. Or even a fan of console racing games. Or of Subaru. The man was a legend who had an amazing career in motorsports for many years, and he still had a long future of breaking records and competitors’ spirits when his life was cut short in September of 2007. Sadly the rally legend lost his life in a helicopter accident that als claimed the life of his son and two friends. It was completely unbelievable and sent the motorsport world into mourning. No one expects people to leave this planet in a certain way, but when someone lives their life driving at 10/10ths in slippery icy and muddy races in some of the worst conditions possible you kind of think that if something did happen, it would be during high speed racing, and not simply returning home from a trip.

McRae raced for Subaru in the 90s where he helped raise the status of the STi range of cars, campaigning every model that came out during his stint with the automaker. After five years with the Japanese brand, McRae headed over to race for Ford for three years where he did the same for the Brand’s Focus range, taking it from a mundane commuter to a rally-bred hot hatch. In 2003 he spent his last year in WRC at the wheel of a Citroen, and after not getting a drive for the new race season, he wandered off to try other forms of motorsport, like the Dakar. No matter what the man was driving, his unmistakable style made him quite fast and hard to beat, and also amazing to watch. Some in car footage from the older WRC days can make you quite ill. For real.
McRae started with cars when he was 16 years old when he bought a Mini Cooper to enter ‘autotesting’ which is what we call gymkhana these days, and he loved it, more so than the two wheel racing he’s been doing for years before. Not long after he borrowed a friend’s Hillman Avenger GT and entered a single-stage rally-style event and he finished in 13th position, but first in class. And the rest, as they say, was history. That leads us to this car here, which just happens to be that EXACT SAME Hillman Avenger GT. Only true Colin McRae fans know about this first racecar, and Scottish car collector Willie Hamilton is among the biggest McRae fans there is. It’s one of those hometown legend stories with Willie hailing from the same part of Scotland. Interestingly enough, for this in-depth look at the McRae Avenger GT, Jonny Smth of The Late Brake Show managed to find Ian Gemmel, a man who originally raced the car back when it was much, much newer. The car itself has an odd history too, starting out life as a show car at the Paris Motor Show in December 1973 before being sent to Maconochies Chrysler in Scotland called Maconochies. Here the car was converted to a full rally-spec racecar and used as  part of the dealer team.

We love it when we find stories about old cars that are little known but that have shaped motorsport driving and events without anyone knowing. Without this Hillman Avenger GT being available for McRae to use that one weekend in the 80s, he may never have had the same taste for rally wins and collecting trophies, and may not have helped Subaru and Ford test and fine tune their engines and drivetrains to be competitive on the world racing stage.

Take a look at the YouTube video about the car that kicked off legendary rally driver Colin McRae's absolutely amazing racing career below: Driving Colin McRae’s forgotten first ever rally car (that led a strange life!) | The Late Brake Show

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