Subaru announced this morning that it will revive its celebrated blue and yellow livery, which famously graced Impreza WRX STI during the company’s era of dominance in the World Rally Championships. Eagle-eyed Subarists will notice that the graphics aren’t exactly the same as the ones from the mid-1990s, but it’s a different world now. Sponsorship from cigarette companies are no longer allowed.
Subaru’s blue and yellow livery was created in 1993, when the company signed a sponsorship deal with State Express 555, a cigarette brand that came in dark blue packaging with a gold stripe.
However, not all events were cool with tobacco advertising, so Subaru officially changed the name of the car to the Impreza 555 so that it would show up in the rosters, and ran the numbers “555” in their license plates whenever they could.
The colors became so iconic that Subaru continued to use the graphic scheme even after they and State Express 555 parted ways. Instead, they changed the pattern to various swoops and variations of the Subaru logo. In the arrangement seen, for example on the 2003 Monte Carlo Rally car above, it was commonly called the “comet.”
The blue evolved as well, adopting a metallic infusion over the years. Still, the hue is recognized as an Subaru trademark, officially known as WR Blue (for World Rally) but also sometimes colloquially called simply “Subaru Blue.”
The color makes any Subaru instantly recognizable as such, and has become something of an icon. And to think, the ubiquitous WR Blue with gold wheels look all stemmed from the a cigarette.
Now, those colors are back, on the 2019 American Rally Association (ARA) and Americas Rallycross (ARX) racers. “These colors are part of our brand’s history, and beloved by our enthusiasts,” said of Alan Bethke, Vice President of Marketing for Subaru of America. “For a generation of rally fans, Subaru is synonymous with blue cars, gold wheels and the iconic star cluster. This new design pays tribute to that heritage, while looking ahead to future success under the Subaru Motorsports name.” Race cars with the new livery debut next week at the Detroit Auto Show.