Subaru Impreza STI 22B 1998​

The cult status and relatively small production volumes of some cars have led to the emergence of a whole phenomenon: unicorn cars. These are models that seeing in real life is already an achievement, and owning one is a dream come true. Nobody thought that one of them would be considered the Subaru Impreza.

Unlike Ferrari, Bugatti, and other supercars, whose cost was measured in tens of thousands of dollars upon their market debut, Subaru Impreza somehow does not fit with elitism. Even in the WRX STi version, it is still a utilitarian car, created to conquer dirt roads and win rally stages, not to sit in a garage under a cover and accumulate collectible value. But in 1998, everything changed.

Several significant events occurred at once: Subaru Tecnica International – STi – turned 10 years old; the sports team in the World Rally Championship won its 3rd consecutive championship title; the head of the marketing department, for some reason, moved away from Japanese pragmatism and took a risk. The Impreza 22B coupe was born.

Compared to the base – in this case, we are talking about the STi version – the model lost a few doors. Their place was taken by fenders from the WRC battle car, widened by 80 mm. The front fenders also underwent changes, allowing the installation of 17” wheels instead of 16”. The front bumper and hood also differed from the base version towards the WRC design.

The next point is the EJ22G engine. The volume increased from 2 to 2.2 liters, but the power, according to official figures, remained almost unchanged – 280 hp. However, at that time, there was an unspoken gentlemen’s agreement among Japanese car manufacturers not to produce anything more powerful on paper. Remember, these were the times of 2JZ-GTE and RB26DETT. The curb weight of the car was 1270 kg.

Back to the name 22B. 22 is the engine volume, B is Subaru’s internal code for turbo engines. But there’s an additional hidden meaning: 22B in hexadecimal – the system in which color is usually stored, in this case, blue – corresponds to 555 in decimal. And State Express 555 was the title sponsor of the team in the WRC from 1993 to 2004. I can’t figure out how all these numbers came together, but the coincidence was incredible.

Now let’s answer the question “what makes it unique” – the number of cars produced. 400 units were made for the domestic market, one of which – №13 – supposedly went to the USA to show what the American market was missing. Another 16 cars went to England, where they were adapted by Prodrive to the road regulations of those years, 5 units went to Australia. And 3 prototypes with the numbers 000 were sent to Colin McRae, his co-driver Nicky Grist, and some Subaru press park, contrary to the popular legend of giving this prototype to David Lapworth – he had car number 400.

In total, if you believe various sources, 424 cars left the factory. And – imagine – about 8 of them are in Russia. We know this from Mikhail, the owner of this beauty. Initially, he helps our overseas car enthusiast friends in terms of delivering these very cars. In other words, he ships cars from Russia to the USA. It’s hard to grasp, but in our country, there are still some Nissan Skylines and Toyota Supras in good condition, for which enthusiasts are willing to pay.

Mikhail was searching for a Subaru Impreza 22B for a client. Finding one turned out to be difficult even in frankly questionable condition, plus negotiations with the owner took several months. After the inspection, it was decided to save the body while it wasn’t too late – and to do it precisely in Russia. Rust removal, galvanization, replacement of body and suspension parts, full car painting, and assembly of a new engine cost more than $70,000 – a significant figure in any currency.

But much more valuable were the time and effort that had to be put into this project. Even having an unlimited bank card, it’s impossible to solve all restoration issues with a snap of the fingers. And at the moment when it was necessary to agree on the final cost of the car, Mikhail took the position of “I’ve earned my money” – and asked for a fair amount, which the overseas client did not agree with.

But no, this is not a story of long love – rather a tale of work passion. After some time and yet another number of modifications, Mikhail’s friend comes in, lays down $140,000 on the table, and takes the car. Not in its original condition, but after a quality restoration. This story unfolded in 2021, and now, in 2024, a similar 22B would cost you between $200,000 and $250,000.

Cars have long become as attractive an investment object as works of art. Unlike the latter, you can actually drive a Subaru, experience emotions, and quite possibly sell it for a significantly increased price after a few years. Not every youngtimer is a collector’s dream, but if you understand the subject, you can at least effectively preserve capital. If humanity continues to produce electric cars and hybrids at the current pace, then it can increase it geometrically. 

The material was worked on by:
Owner: 4kids_daddy
Photographer: mccarthy606
Text: its_sokol