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1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - Rare Parts, Royal Lineage

Attention to Detail Reigns Supreme on This Subaru 22B Tribute

Evan Griffey
Dec 17, 2019
Photographer: John Bunker

Subaru has always had a thing for limited-edition models...and for only selling them in Japan. Hold court among any group of devoted Subie-philes and the '98 22B will be near the top of their unicorn list. The car is a birthday party on four wheels and a rolling championship celebration, as it honors the automaker's 40th anniversary and its WRC championship three-peat spanning 1995, 1996, and 1997.

1999 Subaru Imprea 25RS Widened Rear Bumper Photo 25/25   |   1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - Rare Parts, Royal Lineage

In true Subaru fashion, the 22B was an exclusive engagement, with 400 JDM versions, 16 UK exports, five for the Land Down Under, and three prototypes for a total run of 424. The 22B featured a full wide-fender body, World Rally Blue paint, gold wheels, and a serious EJ series powerplant. We're talking about an EJ20 punched out to 2.2L and fitted with forged internals, a bigger, better-flowing turbo, and more aggressive tuning. This combo was rated at the gentlemen-agreed 280 hp, but the car's spirited 4.5-second 0-to-60-mph time doesn't jive...there were quite a few more ponies in the corral...more like 320.

Blair Davis likes unicorns, but since 22Bs are hard to come by in the wild, he built his own. Blair put authenticity above all else, and the results are stunning. His 22B journey began with a stripped-down, bare shell a friend had abandoned. "I wanted to do a little bit 22B and a little bit WRC-a smooth mixture of both of those worlds," Blair says.

1999 Subaru Imprea 25RS EJ207 Engine Photo 25/25   |   1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - Rare Parts, Royal Lineage

Authenticity translates into ultra-rare parts, so Blair tapped into his inner bloodhound, channeled Sherlock Holmes, and mastered the Matrix to bring his unicorn to light. The rarest of the rare includes a pair of 204 seats. "These were extremely rare. Impossible-to-find rare...like finding a needle in a haystack of needles...and if you do find them, you're paying a pretty penny for them." Blair came upon his 204s in Malaysia and shelled out a staggering $3,600. Zikes.

1999 Subaru Imprea 25RS Launsport Front Bumper 02 Photo 25/25   |   1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - Rare Parts, Royal Lineage

A L'aunsport widebody kit is another extraordinary gem on his car. "This kit is the real deal," Blair says. "It came out of Japan. It had to be custom molded and fitted. The car's factory quarter panels were all cut out underneath to drop weight, and the fiberglass quarter panels were bonded to the rest of the car. From there, the engine, all the subframes, hubs, everything...dash, carpet, wiring, door switches, door panels, all came from Japan off an actual Type R GCA.

1999 Subaru Imprea 25RS Personal Neo Grinta Steering Wheel Photo 25/25   |   1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - Rare Parts, Royal Lineage

"Due to the L'aunsport widebody, I couldn't run the normal street version of the OZ Racing Superturismo, as it only came in 17-inch and a small offset. So, my good friend Brian George of NCM Imports was able to get in touch with OZ directly and order me a custom-spec set from overseas. The 18x8 was as close to the WRC-spec wheels as I could find, and it's amazing. So, until I can source an actual set of OZ Magnesium tarmac Super Ts, these will work perfectly!"

1999 Subaru Imprea 25RS Carbon Fiber Roof Photo 25/25   |   1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - Rare Parts, Royal Lineage

Sometimes tuning takes guts. Like when it comes to decapitating your pride and joy. "The car's carbon roof swap required a full measure of commitment to chop," Blair says. "There's that moment of truth you have to face." In the end, the fact that his USDM Impreza had a sunroof that needed to be deleted to match the overall look and vision of the 22B lessened the stakes, but a chop is a still a chop. Blair is quick to point out that a sunroof filler panel wouldn't cut it because his plan also called for running the OEM Type RA roof vent and STI Group N scoop. Blair decided to go with the insanely lightweight Aero Sim carbon roof that tips the scales at a scant 6 pounds. It's dry carbon, made from a mold formed from a WRC Impreza-two layers of carbon with a honeycomb in the middle-and it has a cutout for the Type RA roof vent.

While lacking the fear factor of slicing roof pillars, the creation of the hood was a challenge. "I started with a factory JDM aluminum hood. Since the U.S. model was steel, there's big weight savings right off the bat. You can pick it up with a couple of fingers. I went to the DirtFish Rally School and measured the WRC vents off their Burns race car that was on display. Everything had to be straight, perfect, exactly where it was meant to be. And then I had to Dremmel out the vents, which are about three times the size of the normal vent on the hood, and then custom bond it all." Blair proved to be steady handed, but subtlety was on its way out the door.

1999 Subaru Imprea 25RS Launsport Widebody Front Fenders 04 Photo 25/25   |   1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - Rare Parts, Royal Lineage

Blair reports the Subie will be getting a full WRC livery to match the Burns P2000 car from the 2000 season. From there, the motor is the next frontier. He plans to mirror the P2000 engine bay with all those carbon vents, a rotated turbo setup, and a custom intercooler. Guess there's no more need to look for that unicorn...

By Evan Griffey
275 Articles
1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS - Rare Parts, Royal Lineage
Tuning Menu
Owner: Blair Davis
Hometown: Edmonds, WA
Occupation: Tugboat Captain
Engine: JDM 2.0L EJ207 flat four; IHI VF29 turbocharger; STI top-mount intercooler; ARC intake with a stainless steel intake box; Zerosports stainless intake pipe; L'aunsport P5555 3-inch WRC stainless steel exhaust; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump; 550cc fuel injectors
Drivetrain: JDM STI six-speed transmission; Exedy Stage 1 clutch, flywheel; stock axles and driveshaft
Footwork & Chassis Bilstein shocks; 8K front, 6K rear springs; Cusco 22mm front sway bar; Whiteline 24mm rear sway bar; heavy-duty end links
Brakes: 365mm Alcon ADeX front brake kit with six-piston monoblock calipers, stainless steel lines; Ferodo Racing DS2500 pads
Wheels & Tires: 18x8 OZ Racing Superturismo wheels; 255/40R18 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires
Exterior: L'aunsport front bumper, widebody front fenders, molded widebody quarter panels, widened rear bumper; JDM aluminum hood WRC S5 hood vents; carbon-fiber roof with Type RA roof vent and Group N scoop; Rally Blue Pearl paint by Adam Forrest
Interior: Righthand-drive firewall swap; JDM STI interior and wiring; carbon-fiber rear sear delete with parcel shelf; Personal Neo Grinta steering wheel with Prodrive quick release; '07 STI head unit
Thanks: DirtFish Rally School

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