Could 77-year-old Ron Billingham be the oldest and most loyal Subaru Impreza turbo fan?
Berkshire dealer, Bulldog of Twyford thinks so and with Ron taking delivery of the latest new-shape Impreza WRX STI Type UK – his sixth sporty Subaru – there seems every chance he could hold the title.
The sprightly septuagenarian who regularly canoes and occasionally cycles is one of the first new owners of the iconic performance flagship – now with a 300 PS ‘boxer’ engine giving a theoretical 155 mph top speed and 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds.
He has previously owned limited edition Imprezas such as the ‘WR1’ and last year’s ‘RB320’ in memory of the late rally ace Richard Burns, also from Reading like Ron.
Other favourites include both 2.0 and 2.5 litre versions of the Impreza WRX – complete with Prodrive Performance Packs, of course, just for that little extra zip.
He has also owned a Legacy 3.0 litre spec.B Sports Tourer but found it lacked the Impreza’s response – despite its 245 PS six cylinder ‘boxer’ engine.
The retired Managing Director of a furniture design and installation company who has also owned Mercedes-Benz and Porsches said: “I’m no boy racer, mind, but have been in the past.
“The new STI is so much smoother-riding and refined but still goes when you want it to. Your mum could drive it to the shops with no problems yet when you select ‘Super Sharp’ mode it’s like lighting the afterburner.”
A keen motorsport fan, Ron has visited Prodrive’s HQ in Banbury and hopes to visit a rally stage this year, especially when his new-shape Impreza is competing in WRC format.
Meanwhile, Bulldog Twyford Sales Manager, Gary Moores, said: “Ron is very knowledgeable about Subarus and a pleasure to deal with. He is an inspiration to us all.”
The totally new Impreza WRX STI Type UK boasts an upgraded symmetrical all-wheel drive system with even more driver-selectable handling characteristics. It also has three different engine-response modes.
Featuring a new five-door body, increased space and a totally new multi-link rear suspension, the new STI is also £1,600 less than the previous model at £24,995 On-The-Road.Published 19 March 2008