One of the main aims of motor sport for any manufacturer (rallying in particular), is to promote their cars on a world stage. Many manufacturers produce limited edition and homologation specials to "celebrate" their successes. Subaru are no exception to this game and have been quick to introduce a series of limited edition models throughout the world to help gives their many fans a chance to own a part of history. Other famous examples include the Clio Williams ranges introduced by Renault, and the Carlos Sainz version of the Toyota Celica GT4 Turbo.
UK Special Editions
In June 1995, to celebrate their winning of both the manufacturers and drivers World Rally Championship titles, Subaru in the UK released a limited edition run of two hundred cars (numbered 1 to 201 - no number 13!) prepared by Prodrive going by the name of the Series McRae. The main improvements over the standard model are:
- Special mica blue paintwork
- 6.5 x 16 inch eight spoke gold Speedline Safari alloy wheels
- Pirelli P Zero 205/50 ZR 16 low profile tyres
- Recaro sports front seats with open headrests and Series McRae motifs
- All seats (front and back) and door panelling retrimmed in Le Mans/Avus material
- Factory fitted electric tilt and slide sunroof
- Interior numbered Series McRae plaque
- Side and rear Series McRae decals
On the road price was £22,999
In 1996, Subaru again won the manufacturers title in the FIA World Rally Championship, finally winning the title with the points gained on the Catalunya rally of Spain. To celebrate this, another limited edition run of 200 cars (again with no number 13) was produced, this time going by the name of the Catalunya (I wonder why?) The main features of the "Cats", as they are commonly known as are:
- Special black mica paintwork (red metallic flecks)
- Colour matched door mirrors
- Gold Alloys (same ones as fitted to 2.0 Sport, but painted gold)
- Front and rear seats and side door panelling re-trimmed in black with red highlights
- Short rally style gear knob (initial sales blurb promised a quick shift!)
- Carbon fibre effect dashboard
- Air conditioning
- Special floor mats (black with red trim and Catalunya logo)
- Side and rear Catalunya decals
- Interior numbered Catalunya plaque
The first examples were registered during March 1997, for an on the road price of £21,610. Note that some dealers decided to cash in on tremendous demand for "Cats", and fitted leather seats, sunroof and other options to all their Cats, forcing buyers to hand over significantly more money than the list price, increasing their profit margin on each car sold.
1997 saw Subaru win the WRC manufacturers title for a third time in succession. Even before the official announcement to the UK Subaru dealers, rumours were circulating over the inevitable release of a third special edition, with the possible specification suggested being very close to the final car. Available from April 1998 onwards, at an on the road price of £22,995, a total of 333 "Terzo" special editions have been produced (numbered 1 to 334, omitting 13). Terzo is Italian for third. This is to celebrate the third WRC championship victory in a row, and hence the third special edition. Specification for the Terzo is as follows:
- Special mica blue paintwork (similar but not identical to the current WRC cars)
- Current style 16 inch alloys, but painted gold
- Air conditioning
- Alacantra + suede effect interior trim (Same front seats as fitted to recent STi models, but without embroidered STi logo, and red shoulder flashes)
- Interior number Terzo plaque
- Cobra 6422 Thatcham Category 1 alarm with remote central locking
- Side and rear Terzo decals
- Special Terzo floor mats
- Non folding rear seat
22B "Type UK"
In late 1998, Subaru UK officially imported 16 22Bs (described below), and passed them on to Prodrive for modification. The UK cars differ from the privately imported 22Bs, not just in their 3 year factory warranty, but with revised gear ratios more suited to UK roads. The was acheived by changing the final drive ratio from 3.9 to 4.44 to lengthen the gearing. Cosmetically, the car got the headlights from the '99 model, UK rear light clusters and driving lights (not fog lights!) were fitted where the normal 22B has blanking plates. From the back, you can tell you're looking at one of the rarest cars in the world by the "Type UK" and "Prodrive" stickers. The price was £39,950, and demand for the cars was overwhelming.
Interestingly, Subaru UK were not able to put their 16 cars through the Single Vehicle Approval scheme because the maximum of 50 privately imported 22Bs had already been registered in 1998. Consequently the Type UKs were registered in 1999. The cars do not meet European Type Approval regulations for noise and emissions.
To celebrate Richard Burns' first year in the Subaru World Rally Team, the RB5 (5 was the number Richard used during the 1999 WRC championship) was launched to critical acclaim by the press. 444 examples of this car were made available to the general public. A "WR Sport" version of the car was available at extra cost, specified at delivery time by the first owner.
- Blue Steel metallic paintwork
- Fully colour-coded exterior (mirrors, door handles, skirts and driving lamp covers)
- Blue 'Alcantara' and suede-effect interior trim, with black 'jersey' surround on seats
- Special graphite trim for the centre console
- Air conditioning
- Unique titanium/pewter coloured 17in, 6 spoke Speedline alloy wheels with Pirelli 'P Zero' 205/45 ZR17 tyres
- PIAA front driving light conversion
- Prodrive quickshift
- Roof-mounted map reading lamps
- RB5 side and rear decals (and also on driving light covers)
- RB5 embossed carpet mats
- RB5 interior-mounted, numbered plaque "Limited Edition" only 444 availabl
- On the road price: £24,995
WR Sport Performance Package
Prodrive High wing (similar to the new STi 5 but with the brake light on the wing rather than boot lid)
Prodrive Performance pack, consiting of Prodrive ECU, exhaust and revised intercooler piping.
On the road price: £27,500
Prodrive WR Sport
Take the standard Impreza Turbo from new and add the full Prodrive interior treatment, suspension package, body kit, wheels with exclusive WR interior and exterior badging (engine upgrade not compulsory) and an official World Rally Sport limited edition of the Impreza Turbo is yours (for £30,000).
Throughout 1999, there were strong rumours that the UK market was at long last going to receive a Japanese specification Impreza, with improved levels of overall performance. A two door white Impreza Turbo running on 17 inch gold alloys and Prodrive number plates had been spotted several times. September 22nd 1999, Autocar magazine run a scoop showing this very same white car, along with a glowing write-up, and an estimated price tag of £30k. Despite having a few inconsistencies (eg 2.2 litre engine with 350bhp!), the article answered many of the questions enthusiasts across the country had been asking for many weeks. The white car was actually a prototype for the forthcoming UK spec Impreza supercar. Based on the 2 door Impreza body shell (but without the wide arches of the 22B)., the car had been developed by Prodrive during the previous year in conjunction with Fuji Heavy Industries and Subaru Tecnica International in Japan. It had been designed from day 1 to be Subaru UK's response to both 'grey imports' and the phenomenal Mitsubishi EVO 6, which had been receiving rave reviews all year long. "Shock Subaru Announcement - New UK Spec 280 PS Impreza Turbo" was the title of the press release, which ran to a full 9 pages. This car was to be called the Prodrive P1 (Prodrive One), would have the full 280PS (276bhp) of the Japanese spec cars and carried a full 3 year warranty with support from all Subaru UK dealers. This astonishing car had been painstakingly developed, and not only met all requirements necessary for full European Type Approval, but also set class-leading standards for both ride and handling. The main features of the car are as follows:
- 2 Door Saloon Body
- Available exclusively in Sonic Blue, similar to the WRC cars, and the same as the 22B
- 280PS engine, with an estimated 260 lb/ft of torque
- Top speed of 155mph, 0-60 in 4.6 seconds
- Special Hella driving lamps
- Specially Designed "Titanium" 10-spoke O.Z. 17 x 7 alloy wheels
- High Ratio Steering Rack
- Ventilated front and rear brakes
- Shorter throw "Quickshift" gearchange
- 4 Channel ABS brakes
- Rear wiper
- Specially designed aerodynamically superior front and rear spoilers
- Category 1 alarm/immobiliser, and RAC Trackstar tracking system
- Air Conditioning
A production run of 1,000 cars was eventually produced, and there were some delays in getting the earlier cars to customers, following production problems with some of the parts fitted here in the UK.
A very special special! In 1993 Subaru UK brought in 6 Impreza WRX RSs, the development car which led to the RA. Due to type approval regulations, the cars were registered as 1.8GLs! 3 went to Prodrive and were presumably smashed to bits in a forest, while 3 went to Subaru UK who later sold them as used cars. At least one is known still to exist. Yes, it says 1.8GL on the registration document. Yes, it has a 2 litre engine with a huge turbo under the bonnet ...
European Special Editions
In Europe, there have been some special editions in blue known as the 555.
Mark Mansfield provided the following info ...
'96 Model '555'
- Black WRX bucket seats trimmed with grey Alacantra
- Black dashboard
- 555 Blue paintwork
- Gold wheels
- No split rear seat
- Nardi leather steering wheel and gear knob
- Cost FRF165 000 (compared to FRF 155 000 for standard model) Exchange rate was about 8F to the £
'97 Model '555'
- Red trim on black seats (all models now have bucket seats and Nardi steering wheel)
- Blue paintwork
- Gold wheels
- Cost FRF 166 500 (FRF 159 000 for standard model)
'97 Model 'WRX'
As for '555' plus:
- Metallic blue paint (like the WRC)
- WRX sticker and number on boot, front wings, and inside (very tacky and cheap).
'98 Model 'WRX'
The Netherlands have had '96 and '98 555 specials, which seem to be similar to the French WRX versions described above.
Italy had a 5 door special in blue mica with red trimmed black seats similar to the Catalunya.
Australian/New Zealand Special Editions
97 'Club Spec' (possibly as part of '97 model run-out)
- Either four or five door
- Special blue mica paint
- Gold 15" wheels
- Red inserts on seats
- Special 'Club Spec' decals.
98 'Silver Anniversary'
- Either 4 or 5 door
- Limited numbers
- Special black mica paint
- Gold wheels (std '98 config.)
- CD player (not autochanger)
- Leather trim on non-standard seats (seats appear to be from the non-turbo RX model - not wrap around)
- Automatic transmission
98 'Club Spec EVO 2'
- Special blue mica paint
- Quick-shift gear change
- 16 inch gold alloy wheels
- Seats and side trim as per STi3 (red/black with grey suede plus blue 555 logos)
- Nardi steering wheel
- Leather shroud for gear stick rather than moulded gator
- Tracker Security system
- Club Spec decals
- AU $47k on the road
Many thanks to William Fletcher and Ralph Douglas for the above info.
Japanese Special Editions
This stunning machine is based on the 1997 World Rally Championship-winning car. Only 399 were built for sale to the domestic market (another 25 were made for overseas markets) and they pre-sold almost instantly in early 1998, although many of those sales were to importers hoping to sell the car immediately. In Japan the car was sold for a retail price of about £28,000, but by the time they appeared in the UK as grey imports, many were sold for over £40k!! There are three cars known to have been issued with the 000 number, belonging to Dave Richards of Prodrive, Colin McRae and Nicky Grist. Colin and Nicky both purchased their cars directly form Subaru for an undisclosed sum.
- 2.2 litre engine restricted to 280 PS (276 bhp) for the Japanese domestic market.
- seam-welded body shell (supposedly identical in shape to the WRC)
- Driver-adjustable front/rear diff
- Twin-plate racing clutch
- Quick steering rack (13:1 ratio)
- Adjustable rear wing
- revised suspension and bigger brakes over the STi 4
- 7.5 x 17" BBS alloy wheels with 235/40 ZR17 tyres
- Blue alacantra seats and interior trim
- Nardi (non-airbag) steering wheel
- Uniquely numbered identity plate (1 to 400, with No 13 not being issued)
(A reader has pointed out that 22B in hexadecimal is 555 in decimal ...)
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