- Built as a double celebration of Subaru’s 40th anniversary and triple wins of the WRC manufacturer’s championship, the 22B is the ultimate STI.
- All the Subaru rally-racing goodies are here: a driver-adjustable all-wheel-drive system, wider bodywork, a huge rear wing, and World Rally Blue paint.
- The auction runs through March 28, with bidding already approaching $100K.
In 1998, Subaru turned 40 and gave itself pretty much the best birthday present ever. Subaru was riding high in its middle age, with three consecutive WRC manufacturer championships between 1995 and 1997. To celebrate, it announced what would become the most desirable car ever to wear the six-star Subaru badge: the rally-bred 22B. One of these late 1990s World Rally Blue beauties is now up for auction on Bring a Trailer—which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos.
This 22B is #135 of the 400 examples sold in Japan (a further 25 were split between the U.K. and Australia). The car has been imported into the U.S. under “show and display” rules. Under show and display rules, a gray-market car like the Subaru 22B is limited to 2500 miles a year.
This generation of the WRX/STI never officially came to the U.S., and the closest we got on this side of the Pacific was the 2.5RS. Even those have increased in value of late, as Subaru enthusiasts seek out clean donor chassis to build tribute cars.
When it comes to a real 22B, things are about as tasty as any gravel-spattered rally otaku could hope for. No Subaru STI has ever looked better, and at just over 2800 pounds, few have been lighter. The blister fenders house 235-series tires for maximum grip —Car and Driver managed 0.96 g on the skidpad in a 1999 test—while tucked under that functional hood scoop is a turbocharged and intercooled 2.2-liter flat-four engine with a redline of 7900 rpm. Water injectors are controlled by a dashboard switch. Subaru listed the 22B at the 280-hp rating common at the time, but it’s widely believed that the peak power figure was somewhere between 300 and 350 horsepower.
That power is doled out through an all-wheel-drive system with an adjustable center differential, making for all kinds of back-road pace or big, fun sliding. It’s the kind of driving experience that still echoes today in rally-inspired machinery like Toyota’s GR Corolla, or, yes, Subaru’s own WRX sedan. Pause here to pour out a gallon of vape fluid for the much-missed STI version
This car has 186,000 kilometers (115,000 miles) on the odometer and has just completed a comprehensive engine-out service. Despite the six-figure mileage, bidding has already hit $90,000 with seven days to go.
If the thought of a six-figure Subaru is surprising, that number is only going to tick upward. The 22B is basically the Subaru equivalent of the Ferrari F40, an anniversary gift of a type that will likely never be seen again.
Besides, can you drift your 401K on gravel, then take it home to wash the bugs off your side windows? In these uncertain times, when even blue-chip investments can falter, maybe it’s time to consider World Rally Blue–chip ones. No matter what happens in the financial markets, you can bank on the fact that a dirt-road blast in a 22B is sure to make you feel like Colin McRae.
Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and photographer based in North Vancouver, B.C., Canada. He grew up splitting his knuckles on British automobiles, came of age in the golden era of Japanese sport-compact performance, and began writing about cars and people in 2008. His particular interest is the intersection between humanity and machinery, whether it is the racing career of Walter Cronkite or Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s half-century obsession with the Citroën 2CV. He has taught both of his young daughters how to shift a manual transmission and is grateful for the excuse they provide to be perpetually buying Hot Wheels.
Source: Motor - aranddriver.com