Subaru 22B STi prototype owned by Colin McRae up for auction

Adding a Subaru 22B STi to your garage would already be an accomplishment for any collector. It’s about as close as you can get to a factory WRC rally car and rare to boot. But if having a “normal” 22B isn’t good enough, an upcoming auction for a 22B prototype owned by Colin McRae himself is here to one-up all the others.

The 1998 Subaru 22B STi was built by Subaru to commemorate the company’s 40th anniversary building cars, as well as the company’s crowning motorsports achievement — three consecutive World Rally Championship manufacturer titles from 1995-97. It was, and still is, the ultimate performance Subaru and no expense was spared in its creation.

The 22B was fitted with a bespoke 2.2-liter boxer four, allegedly a completely separate block casting and not just a bored-out EJ20. Though many assume the name 22B to stand for 2.2 liters and Bilstein shocks, it actually stems from the hexadecimal for 555. It used a closed-deck block like the WRC car and had forged pistons and utilized a metal head gasket. On paper output was listed at 276 horsepower due to the Gentleman’s Agreement, but the real figure was estimated to be over 300.

The bespoke engine was fitted in a bespoke body. The 22B’s flared fenders used separate stampings not shared with regular Imprezas, and the chassis was seam-welded in the image of the 1997 WRC machine. The rear spoiler could be manually adjusted to increase downforce and the grille, bumpers and side skirts were all exclusive to the 22B.

No system was left untouched. The 22B came with  a twin-plate ceramic clutch, adjustable locking diff, its transmission internals were hardened, its driveshaft reinforced, and the final drive ratio was changed to 4.444 for improved acceleration. The suspension consisted of inverted Bilstein dampers, unique forged lower links, and pillow-ball transverse links. Its steering rack was a super-quick 13;1 ratio and its AWD system was tuned specifically for this one application. Even the fender-mounted STi badges were made of titanium.

Only 400 serially numbered examples were built for sale in the Japanese market and the entire allotment was reportedly sold out in 48 hours. An additional 25 were made for other markets, all finished in the same Sonic Blue Mica as the 1997 WRC champion.

However, Subaru also built a handful of prototypes that have a 000/400 number plate. Two were offered to ace drivers Colin McRae and Nicky Grist who drove the cars to WRC victory, and another was offered to Prodrive’s Technical Director David Lapworth.

Being a prominent figure didn’t necessarily earn perks, though. It was believed that Subaru gifted these prototypes, but according to the auction McRae had to buy the car himself. He is quoted to have said that “hurt as a Scotsman” but it he’s also quoted as saying it remained one of his favorite cars.

Nicky Grist also had an 000/400 car but imported a second one himself. The auction says that when Grist blew the motor on it, even he wasn’t able to obtain a replacement block so it would appear that the components unique the 22B are in very limited supply, if at all.

Luckily, the auction affords the buyer the opportunity to own a whole 22B that’s in essentially like-new shape. The odometer reads less than 12,000 km (7,460 miles) and the car is described as immaculate. The auction house expects the car to fetch  $520,000 to $650,000. We’ve seen a 22B sell for $312,000, so the price for a prototype with this kind of provenance doesn’t seem far-fetched. If you can afford it, the auction takes place at the Silverstone Festival on August 26.

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2 Responses to Subaru 22B STi prototype owned by Colin McRae up for auction

  1. Fred Langille says:

    …. a far cry from the Subaru 360 Young “Lady Bug”.

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