Subaru Impreza 22B STi prototype from the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show up for auction – car #000 from RM2 mil est

Subaru Impreza 22B STi prototype from the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show up for auction – car #000 from RM2 mil est

Subaru fans will immediately recognise this car to be an Impreza 22B STi, which was created to celebrate the 555 Subaru World Rally Team (SWRT)’s third consecutive manufacturer’s title in the World Rally Championship (WRC) as well as the brand’s 40th anniversary. However, this isn’t just any other Impreza 22B STi.

Set to be sold at The Quail Auction by Bonhams on August 18, 2023, this is the first prototype of the Impreza 22B STi that was displayed at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show. That’s before the 400-unit production version went on sale in Japan in March 1998 and was promptly sold out in just two days.

Only five pre-production 22B cars were produced, and the one going under the hammer was the only one built in 1997. It carries the chassis number GC8-061819 and the all-important plaque beneath the cigarette lighter proudly says ‘000/400.

According to the auction listing, the ‘000’ car was gifted to David Lapworth of Prodrive in 1997, the man responsible behind the championship-winning rally car. The ownership history includes Subaru of Japan, Prodrive of England and long-term 20-year private collector ownership in Japan prior to being acquired by the seller.

At the time of cataloguing, the car has just 70 km recorded on its odometer and has never been titled or registered for road use. This 22B has been kept in “as new” condition by all of its owners, so much to the fact that it still wears its original Pirelli P Zero tyres. The Sonic Blue Mica exterior paint finish is factory standard, as is the interior with a black and blue theme – the latter is the only colour combination that every 22B sold came with.

“During its lifetime, the car has been serviced, and the engine was exercised to ensure normal operation and fluid circulation. It is extremely rare for a major manufacturer to release a unique prototype for sale; indeed, most are broken up or crushed after their development tasks have been fulfilled,” read the auction listing.

Mechanically, the 22B is powered by an EJ22 2.2 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that was officially rated at 280 PS (276 hp) in keeping with the “gentlemen’s agreement” between Japanese carmakers at the time. The mill, which reportedly made a lot more power than claimed, is mated to a five-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive system. Other driving-related features include Eibach springs, Bilstein dampers, four-pot brake calipers and BBS forged alloy wheels.

Given the desirability of 22Bs and the historical significance of this example, the prototype being put up for auction won’t be cheap. In fact, Bonhams estimates lot #90 to sell for between USD450,000 to USD550,000 (around RM2 million to RM2.55 million). It’s still cheaper than a Prodrive P25.

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Gerard Lye

Originating from the corporate world with a background in finance and economics, Gerard’s strong love for cars led him to take the plunge into the automotive media industry. It was only then did he realise that there are more things to a car than just horsepower count.



  • ROTI CANAI on Aug 16, 2023 at 12:25 pm

    japanese sport cars used to be good value options against european sport cars, nowadays cheaper to buy the european sport cars

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • EV user on Aug 16, 2023 at 12:38 pm

    On the road it’s just another impreza. For that money better buy Supercar instead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • Civic Type L(ol) on Aug 16, 2023 at 7:23 pm

      Average supercar without heritage won’t retain it value, let alone shoot up 500% in value like this 22B STi. Well, it’s not like an EV user would understand this, since EV is just a smartphone with seats & wheels.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • loosemble on Aug 16, 2023 at 5:17 pm

    Hope someone buy this and actually drive it instead

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • My favourite car during my childhood. Always preferred rally style cars compared to supercars. Realistically, of anyone had money for this, may as well buy the new Prodrive version.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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