Like any good enthusiast car to come out of Japan, the Subaru WRX has so many variants it takes some real study to get all the permutations down. But if you ask a Subaru nut what the greatest road-going Impreza of all time is, you’re likely to get a humble-sounding model as the answer: 22B. And you’ll likely get that answer very, very quickly.
The reason for the 22B’s hold on Subie fans? A combination of extreme rarity, WRC rally car looks, and hints that it might be even more formidable than Subaru claims. For one, only 424 were built—400 for Japan, 16 for the U.K., five for Australia, and three prototypes. That’s it. And those looks, sure, Subaru has the WRC cred to back them up. The 22B was built to celebrate three consecutive FIA World Championship titles. That earned the economy car the right to pair gold wheels with a huge hood scoop and an even larger rear wing.
And then there’s the issue of performance. Subaru claimed 280 horsepower—at the time, there was an unspoken agreement between Japanese automakers to limit horsepower to around that number. Few believe that Subaru took this limit seriously for the 22B. Most presume the real figure to be closer to 300, maybe slightly above that. Its engine, enlarged to 2.2-liters from a regular WRX’s 2.0, was filled with internals to handle increased output. Sodium-filled exhaust valves, for instance.
Elsewhere, the 22B incorporated all the company’s knowledge about traction, aerodynamics, and handling: A wider track, more tire, an adjustable rear wing, upgraded clutch, and a short-ratio gearbox. And the 22B is light, at a bit over 2,800 lbs.
You’d expect all that stuff to add up. But the 22B also accelerates like a contemporary supercar, hitting 60 mph in the low- to mid-4-second range. Some say it could dip into the high 3s. Raw acceleration numbers are a very limited measure of overall performance, but it highlights just how outrageous the 22B really is. Essentially, it’s a little supercar built around the humble Impreza.
And pricing reflects that. Just a few years ago, a legitimate 22B prototype could only command $142,559. And a year before that, we were putting the high end of valuation for a regular 22B at around $100,000. Brace yourself for what Appreciating Classics wants for this example: $370,000. It has low miles, just 271 shown, having been purchased by a collector as an investment. It’s in as-new shape, with the window sticker, the original plastic over the rear seats, the whole nine yards. There aren’t going to be any more 22Bs made, so finding one in this condition—if that’s truly what you want—might never happen again. Even so, this price is aggressive, to say the least.
This 22B is in the U.K., and remember that it’ll be a few years before the 25 year rule allows you to legally import something like this. There might be another way to get it into the country, but do your homework. It’d be an unforgivable sin if this were crushed for being here illegally.
Photos used by permission of Appreciating Classics.