The End of an Era, and the Subaru Impreza WRX 22B STi

The Drive recently published an article acknowledging that 2024 is finally the year that the elusive Nissan Skyline GT-R of the R34 generation is finally eligible for import to the US, as its first production model year was 1999, 25 years ago. The author, James Gilboy goes on to lament the fact that this particular car also marks the end of a generation of accessible JDM cars, and what that has meant to collectors and enthusiasts that have been priced out of the hobby. Sounds a bit familiar. The R34 GT-R was a staple of western car culture in the early ‘00s thanks to its appearance in the Gran Turismo series of video games, as well its use in John Singleton’s 2003 film, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and as of this year, it’s a car that can legally be imported to the US. 

The GT-R may be the face of JDM-only cars that are now available for importation, but it’s far from the only one, and it’s not alone in pushing prices further away from the average enthusiast. This 1998 Subaru Impreza WRX 22B STI is another example of an icon that shaped a generation, and it’s currently for sale on Doug DeMuro’s automotive marketplace, Cars & Bids. The 22B was first built in 1998 in celebration of Subaru’s 40th anniversary, as well as its racing success in the FIA World Rally Championship series, where it won the ‘95, ‘96, and ‘97 Manufacturer’s Championship, with Colin McRae also bringing home the Driver’s Championship in ‘95. Just 400 examples of the 22B STI would be produced, and it was never available domestically. 

If you were a fan of these cars back then, this specific configuration will no doubt bring back a rush of nostalgia, not just for the distinctive design, but for an era of much simpler sports cars. There was a time when 300hp felt like plenty, and the size of the cars meant that you could have some serious fun in them without having to worry about breaking the law with every press of the gas pedal. The base design wasn’t all that different from the standard Impreza, but a big wing, wider fenders, and a front end full of ventilation features gave the car an unmistakable look that has aged quite beautifully, if you ask me. 

This car holds plenty of significance, not just for enthusiasts, but for collector types as well. With the limited number produced, and the golden era of Subaru Rally racing that it represents (Subaru hasn’t had a Driver’s or Manufacturer’s Championship since 2002), this car holds a special place in collector circles, and prices have begun to reflect that since it was first eligible for import in 2023. An example from 1998 sold for $226,000 on Bring A Trailer in March of ‘23, while Iconic Auctioneers sold another for 480,500 British Pound sterling (~$612,000) later in the year (granted, that one belonged to Colin McRae, so its result could be considered an outlier). 

At the moment, this 22B listed on Cars & Bids sits at $125,223 with about 24 hours of bidding left. This isn’t a perfect example, and features a few modifications (including those lovely 18-inch Speedline wheels), but may represent a usable 22B. And if there’s one thing these prices signify, it’s fewer and fewer usable 22Bs out there. Which is a shame. You can see this 22B or place a bid yourself over at Cars & Bids.

Image credit: TheCultivatedCollector / Cars & Bids