A love letter to a Kit Car hero

The Seat Ibiza Kit Car is the star of today's Girardo & Co picture of the week


I’ve had to give myself a good talking to. How can it be that we’ve been running the Girardo & Co. picture of the week feature since February and I’ve yet to select an image of one of my favorite rally cars ever?

Seat’s Ibiza Kit Car is a legend in so many ways.

It’s yellow – which earns it instant points for distinction, and was my favorite color as a child. It adorned the cover of Magnetic Fields’ Rally Championship video game in the late 1990s (cool – and massive kudos to Eliot Barnard for accidentally making the graphic on this feature look very close to how that cover did!), and its success was responsible for the birth of another cult hero: the Cordoba WRC.

Any Seat is also close to my heart as the brand sponsored the rally I grew up with, the Jim Clark. And yes I know I’m like a broken record with this rally now, but since learning that I’m not alone in the World Rally Championship circus as McKlein photographer Tom Banks is also a fellow Jim Clark Rally aficionado, I feel no shame.

Anyway, back to the love letter I’d intended to write.

Rally Montecarlo Monte Carlo (MC) 17-20 01 1999

I remember my aunt had an Ibiza when I was really young, although hers wasn’t quite as cool as the one Toni Gardemeister is pedalling here. I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that! It’s amazing what wings and wide arches will do to the aesthetics of the most average hatchbacks.

The image in question is from the Finn’s test for the 1999 Monte Carlo Rally. And clearly he put it to good use as Gardemeister and co-driver Paavo Lukander hustled their Ibiza to a dominant A7 class win on the rally itself.

Even just saying A7 makes me happy. Tarmac-spec Formula 2 Kit cars are the peak of rallying, and no counter argument you wish to make in the comments can convince me otherwise.

I’m happy to debate it with you though, because that’s what makes topics like this so great. Nobody can be right, and nobody can be wrong. It’s amazing the memories (and rambles) one image can provoke. And there are millions more where that came from in the Girardo archive.