We start today off with a video revisiting two of the most potent rally homologation specials the world has seen in the last 20 years.
If you followed the World Rally Championship (WRC) back in the late ’90s then you probably know the names Colin McRae and Tommi Mäkinen. Both drivers were legends in their own right and gave us some of the best WRC action of all time. Even watching them today it’s hard not to be in awe of their skills behind the wheel.
These two drivers were also on the front lines of a major manufacturer battle. McRae piloted his Subaru WRX STI, while Mäkinen was at the helm of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. They both fought hard for their respective factory teams. Often times only a few points separated them from claiming the championship.
In the late ’90s both companies released special edition cars that paid homage to their rally success. These are none other than the famed Subaru 22B STI and Mitsubishi EVO VI Tommi Mäkinen Edition (TME). Now a very few extremely lucky consumers could get their own rally car for the road.
The release of the 22B was in honor of the 40th anniversary of Subaru. The company only produced 424 and the 400 meant for the Japanese market sold out instantly. Of the other 24 cars, 16 went to the UK and eight were for international distribution. At least one ended up in the USA, which belongs to Subaru of America.
The 22B differs from a standard STI in many ways. The most noteworthy change is the larger 2.2-liter engine which Subaru claimed produced 276 hp thanks to the “gentlemen’s agreement”. However, later tests showed that the 22B produced well over 300 hp.
The other major difference comes with the swollen wheel arches and adjustable rear wing. This gives it a true rally car look.
Shortly after the 22B hit the market, Mitsubishi released the EVO VI TME to celebrate Mäkinen’s victory after victory in the WRC. Thankfully for buyers, the TME was significantly less rare than the 22B. Mitsubishi turned out around 3,500, which is still not a huge number but definitely makes it more of an obtainable car.
The TME was closer to the standard EVO VI than the 22B was to the Impreza as well. Most of the improvements graced the exterior with special bumpers and a rally-inspired livery. The car also received a 10mm lower suspension, increased bracing, and unique Enkei wheels.
The biggest difference came in the form of a titanium turbine in the turbo which spooled quicker than the stock one. Unsurprisingly, Mitsubishi quoted the same 276 hp as the 22B. Just as shockingly, it too made more power in independent testing, routinely cracking 300 hp.
Even though most of you have probably never had the opportunity to give either of these cars a spin, chances are you’ve raced them in Gran Turismo. The 22B joined the series in the GT2 release and the TME came in GT3.
They quickly became a popular choice for sim racers looking to find an edge in many of the Japanese specific championships. With AWD and a balanced setup, they made conquering Trial Mountain or Deep Forest a breeze.
To see these two famed cars on the road, check out this review by Torque GT. Be sure your speakers are on so you can hear some glorious engine notes on British B roads.