Flat Four #1 – 1984 Subaru GL Wagon (plus 2 bonus Scoobies!)

After talking about the purity of the earlier Saabs, and how they strayed from that to find greater appeal, it’s interesting to see how Subaru has followed a similar path, but with much greater success. Early Subarus grew out of the 360 microcars, into cars that were originally in the mid-size class with cars like the Accord, but are now probably smaller than a current generation Civic. Current Subarus have kept pace with their competition in terms of size, but Subaru has managed to cling to some of their brand DNA with their flat four engines and all wheel drive. Funny enough, while Subaru spends a lot of time publicizing the all wheel drive, they seem to have realized your average consumer does not care much if their cylinders are inline, flat, or in a vee, and as such they don’t say too much about it. You can find this 1984 Subaru GL wagon for sale in Enumclaw, WA for $3000.

1984 Subaru GL wagon right front

If you squint a little, it looks like there was some cross-pollination with the late 70s/early 80s Toyota Celica – the way the sides of the car and hood are rounded, and the quad sealed beam squares in front. It does look to be in good shape for what was basically a throwaway economy wagon, especially in the non-turbo version – while the lack of AWD takes away from its Subaru-ness, you’ll appreciate the weight savings when you need the full thrust of its smog-choked 1.8-liter four.

1984 Subaru GL wagon right rear

Those overriders are just plain silly – the bumpers are already the burly impact bars you’d find on a car of this age, so why you’d need overriders to protect them is not clear. Remove them if it doesn’t leave any marks. Is it just the lighting, or is the hatch a slightly different shade of beige than the rest of the car? And check it out, Subaru had a bright, shiny, prominent gas cap before Audi and Mini made it cool.

1984 Subaru GL wagon interior

With 115,000 miles, this car still has some life in it, but you’d expect the interior to be more worn than it is. The velour looks fresh, the carpets look clean, dash seems crack-free – the only flaw is minor discoloration to some of the interior plastics, which is typical for a car of its time. Check out the neat little column-mounted control “stubs” that seem to mimic some contemporary Citroens.

1984 Subaru GL wagon trunk

Normally, we’d have a picture of the engine, but the seller has not included that. And frankly, how much can you glean from an engine shot which is mostly covered by the spare tire? In a sense, this trunk shot is equally informative – for a wagon, and heck, for any car in which the trunk is expected to carry dogs, luggage, lumber, and more, this is immaculate. The sub is a little bit over the top for a car like this, but it’s nice to see no evidence of the door panels being cut.

Oh, and the bonus scoobies? Well, this 1986 Subaru GL-10 turbo wagon is for sale in Puyallup, WA for $400. It overheated due to a leaking radiator, and has a blown headgasket, as well as a dented front fender. You’ll want to make sure the engine even turns at this point, but you get the awesome digital gauges and a very tidy interior. And from bizarroland, we have this 1985 Subaru GL sedan with an E30 BMW 3-series grill and headlights grafted on to it!

1985 Subaru GL/BMW sedan for sale front


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4 Responses to “Flat Four #1 – 1984 Subaru GL Wagon (plus 2 bonus Scoobies!)”

  1. Willy Says:

    Wow. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but the GL looks good with the E30 grill. But you wouldn’t catch me in it.

  2. Milo Says:

    I would love to see a nice normal lense front three quarter shot of the E30 front end on that thing. All the front on shots just make it look like an E30 without letting you see how that fits in with the boxy Subaruness.

    • Chris Keen Says:

      Agreed – I was conflicted about even including the shot that’s there, but the seller just has 3/4 shots of the rear. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it looks weird, even the E30 was more rounded than this folded-paper design.

  3. Gay Car Nut Says:

    I’ve been interested in the Subaru 4wd since I was a teen in the 80s. I like the ability to shift from 2wd to 4wd when needed. If only today’s Subaru cars were like that.

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