Honor the WRX STI’s Memory With a Subaru Impreza 22B From Oz
Australian 1998 Subaru Impreza 22B STi auction article highlights:
- Subaru isn’t making a 2022 WRX STI, but the classic Impreza 22B STi is more special anyway
- Website Collecting Cars has a low-mileage, practically stock Australian 22B listed for auction
- Old STI models’ values might increase soon, but with a current auction price of over $300K, this 22B is already expensive
Rally fans, brethren in boxer fandom, ‘tis a sad day, for Subaru isn’t making an STI version of the 2022 WRX. Admittedly, it has some solid reasons for not making a fifth-gen STI, including performance potential. Still, it stings that the sharpest WRX won’t be coming back for 2022. But rather than giving in to despair, let’s celebrate what made it special. And one Aussie has the right idea: auction off a Subaru Impreza 22B.
There won’t be a 2022 Subaru WRX STI, but an Impreza 22B is no mere consolation prize
|1998 Subaru Impreza 22B STi||2021 Subaru WRX STI|
|Engine||2.2-liter ‘EJ22G’ turbocharged boxer four-cylinder||2.5-liter ‘EJ257’ turbocharged boxer four-cylinder|
|Horsepower||276 bhp (claimed)|
300 hp (Car and Driver estimate)
|Torque||268 lb-ft||290 lb-ft|
|Transmission||Five-speed manual||Six-speed manual|
|Curb weight||2857 lbs||3450 lbs|
|0-60 mph time||4.7 seconds (Car and Driver)||5.3 seconds (Car and Driver)|
Now, Subaru hasn’t completely canceled the WRX STI. It’s simply reevaluating the STI’s nature in the face of incoming electrification, or so it claims. Basically, if a future STI wants to have a chance against performance EVs and hybrids, batteries will likely be involved. And as the above table as well as a recent Accord drag race show, some extra twist wouldn’t go amiss.
However, the Subaru Impreza 22B STi isn’t just impressive because of its modern numbers. Built to celebrate Subaru’s 40th anniversary and three straight WRC titles, it’s not just ‘a’ STI product. It’s “the ultimate STI,” The Drive says. And it’s on another level of special compared to the latest WRX STI.
Subaru built the Impreza 22B like a rally car
Based on the first-gen GC8 Subaru Impreza, the 22B STi takes everything great about a first-gen WRX STi and dials it way up. Firstly, its bigger boxer engine has a larger turbocharger, new ECU, tuner-friendly closed-deck design, and sodium-filled valves. Like the regular GC8 STi, the 22B has an electronically-controlled center differential and a rear limited-slip diff. But those diffs are paired with a reinforced close-ratio transmission and ceramic-disk clutch.
Secondly, the Subaru Impreza 22B rides on Bilstein shocks and Eibach springs tuned by rally team Prodrive. The team also gave the 22B a quicker steering rack than the regular GC8 WRX STi. The ultimate WRX has a wider track, too, as well as lighter suspension components, a rear strut-tower brace, and a seam-welded chassis. Plus, Brembo brakes, BBS wheels, a WRC-style body kit, and an even bigger wing.
Sure, the 2021 Subaru WRX STI has Brembo brakes, too, and more modern conveniences. It also hasn’t forgotten its rally-bred character, Car and Driver notes. But the Subaru Impreza 22B is one of the closest things to a cageless road-legal rally car. And the racing-style modifications Subaru Tecnica International gave it are why it’s still a JDM legend.
And now, one of them could be yours.
Collecting Cars has a pristine Australian 1998 Subaru Impreza 22B STi up for grabs
Like the other GC8 Impreza WRX models, Subaru never sent the 22B to the US. But then, it barely sent any outside of Japan. Subaru made 424 examples and only released 24 to non-Japanese markets, The Drive reports. And it sent just five of those 24 to Australia.
The Impreza 22B STi currently listed on auction site Collecting Cars isn’t one of those five, though. Although it’s located in Australia, the current owner imported it from Japan in 2007. And they’ve only added about 1,305 miles of the car’s current 18,499 miles.
Besides keeping it in pristine condition, this Subaru Impreza 22B’s owner also kept it almost entirely stock. The only modification is an aftermarket double-DIN audio system with GPS and CD/DVD functionality. Those power mirrors? Standard equipment; so are the power windows, A/C, and Nardi steering wheel. The owner even has the factory jack, tool kit, spare wheel, handbooks, and brochures.
Whoever wins the auction will likely want to change the fluids, as they haven’t been replaced since 2021. But they should keep the ‘FHI 22B’ vanity plate, if only for the nerdy reference to Subaru’s original name.
Bring a healthy checkbook and be prepared to wait a year
As The Drive notes, now that the 2022 Subaru WRX STI isn’t coming, older models will likely start appreciating. Or rather, if this 22B is a sign of things to come, they’ll start appreciating even faster.
Last year, a 22B in the US sold for $312,555 on Bring a Trailer. As of this writing, three days before the auction’s end, this Australian example is currently listed at the equivalent of $300,916. And that’s before the $7500 buyer’s fee.
However, if a US bidder ends up winning the auction, they’ll likely have to pay another fee: storage. As a 1998 JDM car, this Subaru Impreza 22B isn’t old enough to import unless it’s under the mileage-limiting ‘Show or Display’ status. Hopefully, potential American bidders have some friends with garages in Oz.
Regardless, here’s hoping the auction winner gets this car on the road and shows it some dirt. It’s the least they can do to honor the WRX STI’s legacy.
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