The GC Impreza turned 25 years old three years ago, and prices have been on the rise ever since. The WRC test car, chassis 97001 sold for under $300,000 that same year. Yesterday, its legendary road-going incarnation, a 25,000-mile 1998 Impreza 22B STi, sold for more than that.
The pristine example was imported stateside last year, under a “show or display” exemption; a purgatory state until the chassis becomes 25 years old and able to be driven legally on public roads. The car is #156 of the 424 produced, is finished its iconic World Rally Blue, and is the ultimate expression of the GC chassis. The 22B was a homologation special built in 1998 to commemorate three consecutive WRC titles and Subaru’s 40th anniversary. WRC DNA trickled in as the 22B was imbued with bespoke bodywork such as a vented aluminum hood with enlarged scoop, widebody fenders, and a fully adjustable rear wing. Just as special as the bespoke aluminum hood, was what was underneath it. High-flow cylinder heads massaged 280 horses from its EJ22G block, which was bored to 2.2-liters.
The cabin is exactly how it left the factory in 1998, still proudly displaying its serial number amidst a sea of Subaru’s signature blue alcantara. The seats bolsters show zero wear and neither do the matching door panels. White faced gauges sit behind a matching stitched shift knob and Nardi steering wheel.
The engine compartment shows no modifications, save for the ones performed by the madmen at Subaru Technica International. All the clips and bolts for the hood scoop system are shown to be intact along with all inspection stickers.
In 2019, the car was immortalized in Hot Wheels form by Ryu Asada. Soon after, a 271-mile absolute cream puff example sold last year for more than $370,000. This driven but well-kept example sold for approximately $312,555. Interestingly, the last three digits having historical significance for the model. Subaru’s sponsorship deal with State Express 555, is responsible for the iconic yellow-on-blue Subaru WRC Imprezas of yore. Just as it was made to do, the 22B keeps climbing, and nothing can stop it.
While it’s not good for buyers, the high premiums being asked of this and similar JDM unicorns does mean the ones that have survived thus far will be well looked after from this point on. Which as a fan I love the idea of.
Will it be driven? I hope so…I can’t imagine someone buying a Subaru for it’s design and style in the same way a collector would drop money on a vintage Ferrari.
Sure we won’t be seeing as many JNCs on the road as prices continue to rise, but they will survive and be cherished a lot more than they were 20/30 years ago. The idea of my Grandchildren being able to go to a car show in 40 years time and see Celicas and Supras and Skylines makes me happy. Because if the values weren’t there and people didn’t want to buy them the future would be very bleak for future car fans.
Just my opinion. Feel free to disagree 🙂
I agree Ellis, and I venture that growing EV mandates are sure to buff values of iconic, ICE-motivated cars even more sharply in the next five years.
Wouldn’t surprise me if a mint 22B/Evo/R32 fetches a million soon.
I’d like to think that the red background to the front grille badge might be a nod to the Subaru Young SS, which similarly had a unique red background to its front bonnet (hood) badge.
Maybe someone can tell me if it’s also unique on this model Impreza ?
Not an expert here – but the red badge denotes that whatever it is attached to is the top of the line for the STI brand.
The color is called Cherry Red and is actually pink and would be an obvious nod to the iconic cherry blossoms in Japan.
Looking at the SS, that badge looks true red. Though I suspect there may be some connection between the top of the line 360 and the top of the line STI models using red or “red” on their badges. Red = best
The “555” in the winning bid was definitely intentional. BaT bidders will often bid the year of the car or other digits that refer to the car on sale. One of the bidders said that he started that with a bid of $85,555 and it kept going to the finish. Another commenter said that “22B” is 555 in hexadecimal, which is probably just coincidental.