Based on the 1997 works team specification, this Subaru Impreza STI-22B is the first prototype for the 1998 production WRC car (type 22B), and was displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1997 ahead of the production version's release in March 1998. Despite an asking price of 5 million yen, the 400 cars scheduled for production sold out in just two days.
Estimate - £65,000 - 75,000
Chassis no. GC8-061819
*Prototype for the 1998 22B Impreza
*Displayed at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show
*In a single-owner private collection for 20 years
*51 kilometres from new
Since its arrival on the scene in the early 1980s, Subaru's presence at the forefront of international rallying has given the Japanese concern a profile out of all proportion to its relatively modest stature as an automobile manufacturer. Subaru's first venture on to the world stage was at the 1980 Safari Rally with the un-competitive Leone model, and the arduous African event would remain the focus of the firm's rally campaign for several years. In 1990 the commencement of what would turn out to be a highly successful partnership with the British Prodrive concern enabled Subaru to undertake a full international season for the first time. Despite adequate power from the Legacy 4WD's turbo-charged engine, and the presence of Finn Markku Alen in the Prodrive works team, outright victory at international level continued to prove elusive, though Scot Colin McRae's back-to-back RAC Open Championships in 1991 and 1992 hinted at greater things to come.
Following the arrival of the new Impreza Turbo model in 1993, Subaru made its long awaited breakthrough in August of that year when Colin McRae/Derek Ringer won the New Zealand Rally, the marque's first major international success. The following season brought three more World Rally Championship (WRC) victories – two for McRae and one for Carlos Sainz – before Subaru finally achieved its long-sought goal of outright victory in the World Championship in 1995. In a closely fought contest, Subaru team-mates McRae and Sainz won five of the eight rounds between them – the split being three/two to the Spaniard – with the Drivers' Championship eventually decided in the Scot's favour by virtue of his greater consistency. Subaru also claimed the Manufacturers' title, a feat it would repeat in 1996 and again in 1997. Further Drivers' World Championships were secured in 2001, courtesy of the late Richard Burns, and in 2003 when Petter Solberg emerged triumphant.
In its 1998 incarnation, the Impreza's 2.2-litre turbo-charged 'flat-four' engine produced 280PS (276bhp), which was transmitted via a ceramic/metal clutch to the four-wheel-drive transmission, which had undergone considerable strengthening for the 22B model. Developed directly from the works team's considerable experience, the running gear featured Eibach suspension springs, Bilstein dampers, and BBS forged alloy wheels. The aerodynamic bodywork, with its extended wheelarches, wide front air dam, and boot-mounted spoiler, was the work of the celebrated British vehicle designer, Peter Stevens, at that time working as a consultant for Prodrive, among others.
For the last 20 years, this Impreza prototype has belonged to a private collector, being kept in storage and continuously maintained to keep it effectively 'as new' condition (the odometer reading is only 51 kilometres). The evocative sponsor's decals, as used on the Prodrive works cars, were applied by the collector. 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. Thus, this ultra-rare Subaru Impreza 22B-STI Limited Edition Prototype represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the discerning collector.
Import VAT of 20% plus an additional 10% Import Duty subject to UK VAT at 20% is applicable to the Hammer Price should the car remain in the EU.