1999 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS

Wannabe WRX?  Subaru 22B STi? Street legal rally car? Car enthusiasts don’t really know what to call the Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS. I call it is awesome and here’s why you should too.

The premise of this weekly column is that it’s fun to search for cars on a limited budget.  Since many consumers find themselves looking in this price range, I’m here to help.  

The main only rule here: the car must kick butt, but beyond that there are a few qualifiers:

  1. The car must be listed on www.CARS.com or www.AutoTrader.comwww.Craigslist.com, or www.Bringatrailer.com.
  2. It must be for sale when this article comes out.
  3. It must cost less than $5,000.
  4. It can be any type of car. Bonus points for enthusiast cars.
  5. It must be for sale in the United States (local in DC is best).
  6. Creativity (I know it when I see it) is welcomed.
  7. I’m open to submissions, mthompson@rightfootdown.com.

This week’s winner, a 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS, is for sale in Alexandria, V.A, on Craigslist.

NOTE: Caveat Emptor: Buyer Beware.  This is not an endorsement of this particular car for sale.  I have not driven it, nor do I know the seller.  

There was a time when Subaru didn’t believe in the United States enthusiast customer base.  Subaru thought that enthusiasts would not want to buy an Impreza with 300 hp—boy were they wrong.  The Subaru WRX has had its best sales year yet in 2015, Subaru saw a 40 percent increase in WRX sales from 2014-2015.

When Subaru launched the Impreza WRX in 2002, it ignited a fan boy phenomena that is still strong today.  Car and Driver literally drooled over it during a long-term test in 2002.  But before all of that happened, Subaru drastically underestimated the American customer base, and in 1998 the U.S received the naturally aspired Subaru Impreza 2.5RS.  Not the turbo.

The Subaru Impreza 2.5RS is the godfather, it is the one that started it all, at least for folks in America.  Built from 1998-2001 the Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS sold over 14,000 cars.  It was such a smash hit here in the United States that it convinced Subaru in 2002 to let American enthusiasts have the Impreza WRX, essentially the same car but with a turbocharged boxer engine, limited slip differential and a dual exhaust.  In 2002 the WRX was loved by all, especially automotive journalist. Car and Driver almost ranked it above an Audi S4 in a comparison test in 2002―it beat out a 330ci BMW, and only cost $25,000.

People went nuts when the WRX finally came stateside and the old 2.5 RS was forgotten.  But you should not overlook the Subaru Impreza 2.5RS.  Its 2.5-liter flat-four making 165 horsepower is nothing to write home about and that didn’t help it get remembered either.  But it only weighed 2850 pounds and if you took it around a corner you wouldn’t miss the extra 60 horses that the WRX had over it.  The 2.5RS is most recognized from the front end, its huge fog lamps and aggressive front spoiler give it instant rally recognition ad street “cred”.

The 2.5 RS is a sought after car because it is light-weight, and you can swap WRX STi engines in like Legos.  This will turn it  into a “Subaru 2.5 RSTi.”  Putting WRX STi engine in the light weight 2.5 RS is becoming a trend in the tuner scene.  It will cost about $10,000 to do the swap, but at the end of the day you have a car that will stomp on a modern day Subaru WRX STi, while looking like one of the most sought out Subaru’s the “22b”.  Hmmmmm Subaru 22b….

The Subaru 2.5 RS I found can be bought here on Craigslist.  It’s for sale in Alexandria, V.A.  The seller is asking $2,700, that makes this car an excellent candidate for a WRX STI engine swap.   The cars seems to be in great shape.  The seller is the second owner, and he even has the all the original paperwork for the service history of the car.  Super important!  Two pitfalls.  First it’s an automatic transmission, which even you are doing an engine swap, doesn’t matter.  The second pitfall it’s the four door body style.  For me, I love a good four door sedan, but the coupe is the more desirable car.

BUY HERE. Swap in a WRX STi engine, then let me drive it.


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