AS WITH many of the great cars of the late 20th Century, Subaru’s unicorn-rare STi 22B is a homologation special.
Only 425 were built, and a miniscule five of those made it to Australia. Four hundred of them were sold in Japan, though many left as private imports, while the rest were specifically destined for export or as cars for particular people, namely the legendary Colin McRae and his co-driver Nicky Grist.
Despite this, it has garnered admiration from Aussies, with a South Australian-built tribute to the 22B (named 25BB) gracing MOTOR’s pages being a case in point.
The 22B was gifted a slightly larger 2.2-litre flat-four than the STi Version V it was based on, with a larger bore, though its claimed power output was still the same 206kW at 6000rpm.
Motoring scribes have pondered the accuracy of this claim at length over the years, but one figure that shows an obvious improvement is torque. The hand-assembled engine would generate 360Nm at 3200rpm to trump the Version V’s 353Nm at 4000. This helped give it tremendous mid-range power.
Subaru strengthened the driveline with a twin-plate ceramic metal clutch. And even from a standstill, the 22B would hit 100km/h in 4.7 seconds. We’re talking 18 years ago now, but that’s still fast even today. Its power-to-weight of 162kW-per-tonne matches that of a new Ford Focus RS, or a BMW M140i.
If you think you’ve spotted a 22B in the wild, a few dead giveaways are the hand-crafted widebody wheel arches, STi caps where the foggies should be, an adjustable rear-wing, slightly larger 17-inch BBS alloys and – if you manage to get inside – a lack of niceties such as air-conditioning. If it ticks all those boxes, you’ve probably found yourself a damn good replica. Look for its intercooler water spray.
If it is the real deal, don’t scratch it. These things can fetch huge money... six-digit money. And that’s only likely to get higher.
1999 Subaru WRX STi 22B specs
Engine: 2212cc flat-four, DOHC, 16v, turbo
Power: 206kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 360Nm @ 3200rpm
0-100km/h: 4.7sec (claimed)
Price new: $132,000
3 Fast Facts
1. Booming Prices
Silverstone Auctions sold number 311 for £73,125 (AUD$121,000) in May 2016, and that 22B had panels replaced after a ding-up. Another sold this year for $181,000 in Japan.
2. Numbers and superstition
It was believed Subaru made only 224, rather than 225, rally-inspired hot rods until it was revealed the mystery 22B, build number 13, actually belongs to Subaru America.
3. Fast Perks of the job
Subaru gifted its rally legends and Subie icons – Colin McRae and his co-driver Nicky Grist – two examples. It’s believed they were numbered #000 and not 555.
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