Rarer Than Rare: Subaru 22B #000 Prototype Front and Center at T14 HQ

Photography: Brandon Cody

  • The Subaru 22B represents the ultimate incarnation of the Impreza lineage.
  • The car was spawned to celebrate Subaru’s 40th anniversary and three consecutive World Rally Championships.
  • This car is one of three #000 prototypes—the two other examples were gifted to Colin McRae and Nicky Grist for their WRC triumphs.

“There aren’t any hardcore car enthusiasts in the United States.” That must’ve been the impression we gave to literally every car manufacturer from the 1980s through the early 2000s—a period when we were robbed of some immensely iconic machines: the E30 M3 Evo, 190E Cosworth Evo II, every GT-R before the R35, Nissan S15s, a slew of amazing tourings, and this—@jdmsupreme’s Subaru Impreza WRX STi 22B.

Not Just Any 22B

As if a regular 22B was commonplace, the car you see here deserves more lofty praise. While it carries the 22B nomenclature, you won’t find any 22B badging on this car’s exterior. No, Subaru made this car before those badges were even in production. What you see here is one of only three 22B prototype cars—each featuring a unique #000/400 plaque to commemorate the occasion. Two were given to Colin McRae and Nicky Grist as a thank you for their service in WRC, while Subaru used the third (this exact car) for all of the 22B’s worldwide press.

While the production-ready 22B had the EJ22 engine, these three prototypes housed the standard EJ20 from the STi since the larger displacement motor was still in R&D.

The Great Debate

The Subaru Impreza WRX STi 22B; its name might sound like some eight-hit ultra-super-turbo ultimate edition combo that you’d perform in a Street Fighter game, but its progression makes sense. Each three-character add-on builds another level onto the Impreza’s foundation. The 22B is, by every measurable definition, the ultimate expression of the car’s nearly decade-long tenure.

While we’re on names, this car’s nomenclature is somewhat fabled. Many deciphered “22” as a simple nod to its displacement (2.2L) and “B” as a tribute to Bilstein (its suspension supplier). Some have thought the “B” simply stood for Japan’s representative letter for turbocharged. Even more abstract interpretations see the 22B badging as a homage to its famous “555” sponsor decal, a hexadecimal representation of the number. Without any doubt, the car was spawned to celebrate two things: Subaru’s 40th anniversary as an automotive manufacturer and its three consecutive FIA World Rally Championships.

B for Better

Any way you cut it, the car significantly improved the standard issue STi. Wider boxed fenders housed 22B-specific 17-inch gold alloys built by BBS, Bilstein supplied the suspension (as aforementioned), and its massive rear wing was adjustable to dial in downforce levels as needed. As you’d probably expect, more performance was available on tap, while a unique carbon fiber STi strut bar—made by its aerospace division—provided a unique and futuristic adornment to the engine bay. Prospective buyers could have it in any color they wanted, as long as it was Subaru’s 74F Sonic Blue.

A Time Capsule Worth Cherishing

In the capable hands of @jdmsupreme, the press car you see before you remains as factory-preserved as possible. The car still wears its period-correct Pirelli P Zero tires. The odometer reads an unbelievable 00070 kilometers. I felt guilty and privileged at the same time to even sit in the driver’s seat, fearing that my egress would scuff the door sills or that I’d leave a hair fiber on the immaculate center console. Truthfully, I got in and out of it with more care than a modern-day supercar. But to me, this is far more special than your average Ferrari. Quantitatively speaking, this exact car would probably fetch the cost of two brand-new Ferrari F8 Tributos.

But more than the monetary value of it all, this car is a vital piece amongst the most highly celebrated eras of Japanese car culture. The 22B, and the plethora of JDM icons created around its time, became nothing short of pop icons—character mainstays and generational pillars for shows like Initial D or movies like Fast and Furious, amongst others. Its DNA has influenced not only what we expect from a performance car but also what we acknowledge as the driving forces behind the entire automotive industry.

Special thanks to @jdmsupreme for entrusting this iconic machine to Turn 14 Distribution’s HQ and K&N Engineering for facilitating the entire arrangement. It has been an unforgettable experience.