Making your way through the revolving door and into the laboratory-clean reception area to be greeted by Colin McRae’s 1995 Championship winning Impreza, and an Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3, you can only be in one place; Prodrive’s headquarters in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
This team of geniuses, founded by former Aston Martin chairman David Richards CBE, may be best known to many for their prolific successes with Subaru in the WRC in the 1990s, including three consecutive manufacturers’ titles, but their involvement in motor racing development goes further back still, and not just with the Japanese marque.
1984 saw the company’s first foray into the WRC at the Acropolis Rally in a Porsche 911 SC RS with Henri Toivonen, and their first win just three years later at the 1987 Tour de Corse in a privately-entered BMW M3 Béguin Bernard at the helm. Numerous British, Middle-Eastern, Belgian, French and Asia-Pacific titles went on to be taken over the next few years, all with Prodrive’s development at the core, and all this still before the Subaru victories had been etched into motorsport history.
Aside from rallying, circuit racing has been a hugely successful discipline for Prodrive. BMW’s team of fire-breathing M3s in the 1987 British Touring Car Championship were all run by the Prodrive team, and the following year saw Frank Sytner take the outright win in a BMW Super Tourer. Alfa Romeo, Honda and Ford all partnered with the then Milton Keynes-based company, all bringing prestigious trophies home.
Decades later and GT class titles are being scooped up by Prodrive-developed machines; the Ferrari 550 Maranello GT of 2003, the DBR9 in ’07 and ’08 and a 2017 win with the Vantage GTE. With Aston Martin recently releasing the new generation of Vantage, and with it the GTE, we are sure that more trophies will be furnishing the halls of the facility.
A company with such an understanding of engineering and advanced technology could never limit themselves to the motorsport, however. Prodrive has worked with manufacturers such as McLaren and Land Rover. The glorious rear wing of the McLaren P1 was developed here for example, as are the luxurious centre consoles in the Range Rover SVAutobiography. Prodrive continues to advance technologies in aerospace, marine, rail, energy and further their development in the automotive field with EV technology – each of which uses processes and concepts brought forward from their expertise and successes in motorsport.