From the cutest police car to fire-breathing rally cars.
Subaru has been around as a car maker since 1953. It's a descendant of Nakajima Aircraft Company, founded in 1918 to become Fuji Heavy Industries later. Fuji Heavy Industries wanted a dedicated automaker under its umbrella and formed Subaru. The new automaker's first vehicles were small cars and kei trucks. Later in Western markets it branded its cars as "Inexpensive, and built to stay that way." Now, Subaru is well-known and appreciated for its all-wheel-drive family vehicles and horizontally-opposed boxer engines. That tradition started with Subaru's Symmetrical AWD system debuting in 1972.
As Subaru has spent most of its existence making predominantly family cars, it occupies a weird niche in the collector market. While collectible, old Subarus don't tend to trade at high prices. But there is one notable exception. The company is also known for its rally heritage that it started building in the '80s with that trademark AWD system and boxer engines. The cars that dominated rallying for Subaru were the Impreza WRX and WRX STi. The road and homologation versions cemented Subaru as a name in the car enthusiast community in addition to its family vehicle bent. However, it's no surprise that its Impreza models sell for the most money when they come to auction.
The Subaru 360 was one of Japan's most popular cars while it was built from 1958 to 1971. It was a clever little package weighing just 1,000 pounds and used monocoque construction, a fiberglass roof panel, and swing-arm suspension. It also featured rear-hinged doors, earning it the nickname 'ladybug,' and an air-cooled, two-stroke inline two-cylinder engine. Subaru exported 10,000 to the US, but this one appears to have come from New Zealand as it's displaying the nation's Ministry of Transport police livery. The listing said that it comes with a siren, light bar, and bobby hats. It's unlikely to catch any speeders. It is adorable, though.
You either love or hate the Subaru Brat, and they don't tend to sell for a lot of money. However, this one is believed to have been a display model for dealer-installed options and sold with 2,500 miles on the clock. The color is called Mellow Brown, and, as well as a white roll bar and bumpers, the Brat has a CB antenna and a winch fitted. Curiously, and likely due to its previous owner being a Subaru executive, twenty Subaru-branded solar-powered calculators were included in the final $46,198 bid on Bring A Trailer.
This 360 is one of the 10,000 imported to the US and sold through a Chevrolet dealer in Seattle, Washington for a lot less than its $50,000 auction price. According to the Bring A Trailer listing, it was left parked in the original owner's garage from 1973 until 2011. Following that, it was rebuilt and refurbished. It has 10-inch wheels, a new set of 145/80 Kumho Power Star tires, and there's a claim the 356-cc, two-stroke twin was rebuilt with oversized Wiseco pistons. We suspect it's unlikely it'll ever be caught speeding, though.
In the hands of Colin McRae and Richard Burns on the World Rally Championship circuit, wins in the 1990s and 2000s translated into sales of the Impreza and its entry into enthusiast culture. Special editions were abound, and this one was a UK-only model that became the fastest version available for a while. Tuned by Cosworth, the Impreza WRX STI CS400 poked 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds. That's because Subaru added around 95 hp to the drivetrain, leaving it with a muscular 395 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. The CS400 Cosworth also came with upgraded suspension, a stronger clutch, a short-throw shifter, and new, beefier brakes. Only 75 were built, and this stealthy grey one sold for $57,116 in the UK through a Bonhams-owned online auction website.
The movie Baby Driver landed in 2017 as a beautifully crafted movie by British writer and director Edgar Wright around complex themes, a sophisticated soundtrack, and the main character whose evolving morality and burgeoning romantic relationship are every bit as compelling as the action scenes. Mostly, though, we enjoyed the getaway driver's red Subaru being flung around the screen in a series of complex yet perfectly choreographed and executed stunt sequences. Several Subaru WRXs were used to create the car chases that drew inspiration from the classics, and a couple have been sold. The most expensive we saw went for $69,100 on eBay in 2017. The stunt cars were reportedly built by All Pro Subaru and featured a larger turbocharger from a WRX STI model, an upgraded differential. In another sold more recently, we spotted a drift-style e-brake likely using a hydraulic system to get the rear wheels to lock up.
The previous special edition WRX STi models in the series, starting with the S201, weren't made available in the US. However, according to Subaru, the WRX STi S209 was sent to us "From Japan with Love." And Subaru did shower it with love. The 2.5-liter engine is bulked up with forged rods and pistons to deal with a larger turbo supplied by HKS, while the intake system was redesigned for the car, and a water sprayer added to the cooling system. With the increase in boost, the S209 makes around 341 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. On top of that, the chassis is stiffened, the suspension tuned within and inch of its life, and the fenders are flared for the wider Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600A tires. Subaru limited it to 209 units, making it instantly collectible. The MSRP is $63,995, but this one sold for $75,209 with 616 miles on the clock in February of 2021 through Bring A Trailer. We suspect the original owner didn't make as much on his investment as they wanted, though.
When it comes to big-ticket Subarus, an actual rally car driven by legend Colin McRae is going to command big money. McRae's WRC7, chassis #001, sold for $300,000 in 2017 and comes complete with the iconic blue and yellow 555 racing livery. However, it wasn't used as a race car. McRae drove it hard as a test and development car before the 1997 season, but it also was used for press events. When it was driven competitively, it was by MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi in 1999 when he tried his hand at rallying. Sadly adding to its value is that McRae was killed in 2007 in a helicopter crash that also claimed his five-year-old son and two family friends.
When it comes to road-going desirable Impreza models, the 22B is a legend. It was built as a 400 model-only limited edition created to celebrate Subaru's 40th anniversary and its third consecutive WRC championship. It's recognizable for its wide body kit, 17-inch gold-painted BBI wheels, STi brakes, and it came with an electronically adjustable center differential. Everything about the 22B is iconic, so, given its rarity, a six-figure price tag isn't unusual. What justifies the $370,000 price tag is that this one sold with 271 miles on it in 2020, making it a time-capsule of peak Impreza.
Racecar S6 WRC, chassis #11, was campaigned by Richard Burns and co-driver Robert Reid through the 2000 World Rally Championship. Somehow, it was acquired from the right side of the finishing line after the 2000 Network Q Rally GB event and still had wrappers from energy bars in the side pockets and the Nokia emergency cellphone onboard. Its originality is what makes it so valuable that someone paid almost a million dollars at an auction in the UK. Before the sale, it was relatively untouched and "used for a number of demonstration events to show off its incredible performance and patina."