The ultimate example of the ultimate Impreza has sold for nearly half a million pounds. One of three pre-production Subaru Impreza 22Bs with the chassis designation ‘000’ went under the hammer via Iconic Auctioneers - formerly Silverstone Auctions - for £480,500 and its Classic Sale.
What makes this 22B particularly valuable is that it was was delivered to none other than World Rally Champion Colin McRae in November 1998. If you’re well-versed in WRC history, you’ll know that was around the time McRae left Subaru for Ford. The 22B was reserved for McRae as thanks for his service with the team, while the other two went to his co-driver Nicky Grist and the other to David Lapworth of Prodrive, which ran Subaru’s WRC team. It wasn’t a gift, though: according to Silverstone Auctions, McRae had to pay for his. He’s quoted as saying this “hurt as a Scotsman."
He’ll have paid a whole lot less than this car is worth today, however. 22B auction results have been getting increasingly silly in recent years, but with such provenance, McRae’s prototype 22B is predictably by far the priciest of the lot, and thus the most expensive road-going Impreza ever. It ended up costing even more than the eye-wateringly expensive Prodrive P25.
It’s the same spec as the 399 JDM cars rather than one of the 16 official UK cars, so you get a gauge cluster in kilometres, with a mere 12,000 of them (around 7,500) showing on the clock. Other differences include a 4.444 final drive ratio to improve acceleration, fog light covers and a lack of ‘Type-UK’ badges. It has a non-standard exhaust, but otherwise, it’s completely original.
Present and correct is the famed seam-welded two-door bodyshell with its blistered wheel arches, closely following the shape of Subaru’s Impreza WRC of the time. Under the bonnet is a 2.2-litre, bored-out version of the EJ20 turbocharged boxer four found in other hot Imprezas, designated ‘EJ22’. Other upgrades compared to lesser Imprezas included forged aluminium lower suspension links, and inverted dampers from Bilstein with Eibach springs.
McRae did, judging by comments he made in interviews about the car, drive the 22B pretty hard. It’s been well cared for, though, as documented in a comprehensive history file which “includes every invoice for parts, maintenance, and servicing” since the current owner bought the car in 2008.
Let’s hope the new keeper decides to use the car, and perhaps even take it to a few shows, rather than tucking it away in a private collection. Keep your fingers crossed.