The Subaru Impreza is one of the most beloved cars in the history of the sport and Colin McRae is clearly responsible for that! In my writings, however, I will leave the late pilot, whom we have mentioned many times in the past, to mention the car. A car that hides… many secrets and that left an era with its performance and color combination. So let’s see his story and what is hidden behind … words!
By today’s standards, Subaru is a small car manufacturer. The company started in 1958 and is owned by the giant Fuji Heavy Industries. For years, Subaru vehicles have been the choice of farmers around the world (example BRAT which you can see here) or drivers who spent most of their time in the snow. The rugged design quality and excellent four-wheel drive system made them ideal for use on hard terrain and low traction. It was not until the 1990s that the ideal design of the flat four boxer engine with a low center of gravity, as well as a symmetrical train of equal length, began to be fully used in motorsport and their value recognized in practice.
And somewhere along comes young Colin McRae at that time. It started in the Subaru years with Prodrive developing the Legacy Turbo and its success sparked the desire of the “mother” company FHI to design the Impreza Turbo or WRX as it is known in the southern hemisphere. What happened next is the stuff of legend and 1995 saw McRae and Derek Ringer become Britain’s first World Rally Champions! Subaru has since taken the manufacturer’s name in all but one of the following years, and in 1997 it announced the Peter Stevens-designed Subaru Impreza WRC. (article continues after the picture)
How did the color combination come about?
But, apart from the undoubted skill of the driver and the car, it was the color combination that was destined to make history. Specifically “555” came from a British cigarette brand, whose rights outside the UK belonged to British American Tobacco (BAT). If blue and gold are the main colors on its premium cigarette packs, it left its mark on the Impreza. The blue body and gold rims are, I would say … a trademark of the car.
In 1998, however, BAT’s partnership/sponsorship with Subaru was not renewed. The blue and gold was here to stay, and it was. The 1999 and 2000 cars had retained what I always call “subarizon blue” along with the gold rims. Either for the first time, or for the hundredth time. In fact, in 1998, Subaru rejected a good warranty plan, as they would have to change the color of their racing cars and abandon their beloved Sonic Blue.
The story behind “555” and “22B”
1998 was a historic year for the Japanese marque as it celebrated 40 years since its first model, the 360. So the Japanese wanted to create a special car to celebrate their birthday and the company’s success in the WRC and the world championship three times. column. And so the 22B was born. The codename itself is a mystery … In 22 we all knew, or thought we knew, that it is preceded by the power of the motor (2.2 liters). But what about “B”? Many at the time said that the “B” was for the boxer engine, while others were more … thinking about the Bilstein suspension. The riddle was solved by Subaru himself, or rather he did but without… convincing. In particular, as you will see his man say in the video below, 22 actually comes from the engine capacity (2.2 liters), while “B” is the internal number of the turbo.
But something else happens if you look up the number 22B in hexadecimal. So if you type 22B into a hexadecimal computer, the result is… 555! To prove this, grab a calculator and add the following to the log…
Hexadecimal: 22B= (2 × 16²) + (2 × 16¹) + (11 × 16⁰) = 512+32+11 = 555
Officially, this was not reported to Subaru. But knowing the relationship of Fuji Heavy Industries with space and computers, then it does not surprise me that this is not an accident but a purpose. Besides…too many not by…unfortunate? Random? I don’t think so… Anyway, let’s enjoy the Impreza story in the following videos and remember the time when we were marked by such cars!