PNW Special – 1990 Subaru Loyale 4WD Turbo Wagon plus bonus Brat

Back before Subaru broke into the mainstream in the late 1990s with its Legacy Outback, it was making something unusual that seems commonplace now – a turbocharged all-wheel-drive car. Granted, some parts of the concept had been done before by cars like the Jensen FF and Ford Mustang with Ferguson AWD, but these were very expensive, limited production, or both. Subaru brought this technology to the compact class in the early 1970s, well before the Audi Quattro or AMC Eagle. While on a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest (PNW), I was reminded of my search for one of these to use as a daily driver in the late 1990s, and decided to find one to feature here. Even back then they were hard to find, and our car today is one of the few remaining turbo Loyale wagons in Multnomah County, near Portland, OR for $1250.

1990 Subaru Loyale Turbo Wagon left side

Paint looks pretty decent, and the turbo stickers on the side mean its a ginuwine AWD turbo, right? What blah hubcaps – those would be the first to go, as even the earlier white steel wheels from an earlier car would look better here. You could surely find some funky Subaru alloys that would improve on the look.

1990 Subaru Loyale Turbo Wagon right front

The interior is what you’d expect from a 23-year-old economy-priced sedan. Vinyl seems to be separating and/or wrinkling from the door panels, and you can expect the upholstery to be ropey under those saggy seat covers. Luckily, decent parts cars seem to be readily available, so you can probably get a good set of seats and avoid the expense of new upholstery. This shot also reveals the letdown on this car – an automatic transmission. However, with a turbocharged car from this period, having an automatic might help manage the turbo lag a bit better. As they can say for a rare car like this, where will you find another?

1990 Subaru Loyale Turbo Wagon interior

Engine compartment looks pretty decent – you might even say clean. You can see Subaru’s former eccentric leanings (now pared down to having horizontally opposed engines) in the underhood location of the spare tire, a feature they shared with manufacturers like Citroen and Renault. More proof of the powertrain specification, as it says 4WD turbo right on the engine. With only 115hp and 134 lb.-ft. of torque from the turbo engine (seems low, no?), expect nothing exciting in the way of acceleration, although maybe 1980s turbo lag will make this feel like more than it is!

1990 Subaru Loyale Turbo Wagon engine

Finally, if you can’t stand the pain of driving a car equipped with an autotragic transmission, how about this tidy BRAT with a stick shift in Pocatello, ID for only $3650?

1987 Subaru Brat right front


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