Throwback Thursdays: Subaru Impreza STi RB5

The European and Japanese markets are no strangers to special edition versions of cars. Nearly every manufacturer offers various trim and performance packages, for specific markets. The US has never been a market, that gets much attention in this area. Foreign auto manufacturers perceive us, as daft corn farmers, who wouldn’t appreciate the subtle differences, of a limited production model. That’s not to say our own government isn’t to blame as well. We’ve always forced foreign auto manufactures, to make special tweaks to their vehicles, to meet our anal emissions and safety regulations.

The UK on the other hand is the complete opposite. They’ve been getting the good stuff for years, especially when it comes to Subarus. It’s one of the brand’s biggest markets and as a result, a slew of special edition models and performance packages, have been sold there. 1999 marked the return of Richard Burns, to the Subaru World Rally Team and to commemorate the occasion, they released the Impreza STi RB5. The “RB” of course being Burns’s initials and 5, his starting number.

The original brochure photo.

The RB5 started life as a standard UK-type, Subaru Impreza STi and was then given a facelift by Prodrive. The standard trim is mostly looks, including a special coat of Steel Blue Mica paint. The car is dressed in special edition RB5 decals, with blue alcantara bathing the interior trim.

The RB5 features a unique set of Speedline 6-spoke wheels and Pirelli P Zero tires. A Prodrive short shifter and suspension, rounds out the package.

The WR Sport Performance Package, was also available, as an optional extra and included a larger STi rear wing, upgraded intercooler piping, a Prodrive exhaust and tuned ECU.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes at this point and thinking “big deal”.

I like this car because it’s something different, a departure from the norm. In an age where everyone’s car looks the same, it’s all about the details. The RB5 commemorates one of Subaru’s all time great WRC drivers, Richard Burns, who died much too soon.

I love people’s passions and hobbies. Who chooses to buy this car, over a standard Impreza and why? These are the kinds of stories that really intrigue me. I’m a lover of all things Subaru and very envious of the UK market, who have always gotten the cream of the crop, after Japan. Steel Blue Mica is a fantastic color, wouldn’t you say?

Photos courtesy of Steve Coulter Performance Cars.

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