The primary automobile through which he did a rally was a Renault Clio, pushed on the Dukeries Rally in Britain halfway by means of 2002. However earlier than that, there was a fantastically ready Toyota Corolla GT he used on rallysprint-type occasions from the age of 16. However earlier than that got here a Ford Escort Mk II.
Which one, Jari-Matti?
“Truly,” he mentioned, pondering the query a second longer, “I feel we take the primary rally automobile I owned – this was a Sunbeam Avenger. And I had two of them…”
We’ll go together with the primary one.
“The primary automobile was an Escort Mk I,” he mentioned. “I used to be eight years previous, however that wasn’t a lot of a rally automobile – let’s keep on with Avenger. This was a superb automobile. I can inform you a narrative about this automobile!
“This was the automobile that received me considering Henri Toivonen. We thought this was precisely the identical automobile Henri had been driving within the mid-seventies. I bear in mind my father gave me a VHS cassette which was the movie: ‘Henri Toivonen, the legend.’
“I watched this movie loads and have become an enormous fan of Henri and the Avenger. After we rebuilt this automobile, we discovered this wasn’t an ex-Henri Toivonen automobile. However I can inform you one other story!
“After it was rebuilt, and I did that in 2008 utilizing all of my wage from driving for M-Sport, Timo Kankkunen (brother of four-time world champion Juha) did a rally in it and received his class. So, possibly it’s not ex-Toivonen, however it’s now an ex-Kankkunen automobile!”
Latvala used the Avenger across the yard of his household’s enterprise. And, in fact, when winter got here, on the frozen lakes round his Finnish residence.
“My dad and mom’ enterprise was in earth shifting equipment,” he mentioned. “So we all the time had some area to maneuver the machines round and I may use this area to drive.
“I preferred the Avenger, for me it felt like a greater automobile than the Escort. It had coil springs on the rear as a substitute of leaf spring suspension just like the Escort and I feel the steering was faster. The factor that permit it down was the engine. It didn’t have the identical energy.”
And it was the engine that permit Latvala Snr. down.
“My father received bored with all the time having to repair the engine on the Avenger,” mentioned Latvala. “It was all the time the identical with these vehicles. The issue was with the cylinder head, you’d get a leak from the gasket. The water channel [in the cylinder] was damaged and it let the water out. It wasn’t good.
“And, like I mentioned, my father received fed-up with it. We put this automobile to the again of the yard and left it there.”
Virtually a decade later, it was rebuilt and operating once more. Whether or not or not it’s an ex-Toivonen automobile, the truth that it’s been lived and liked by Latvala is sufficient for us.