Wedgy! 1986 Subaru XT Turbo 4×4 (plus bonus stripper DL!)

Subaru’s first foray beyond purely practical cars, the XT was as close as you could get to owning a new Citroen in North America back in the 1980s (well, without going as far as spending luxury-car money on a CXA or CINA-imported Citroen CX. Crazy wedge styling, flat 4- or 6-cylinder engines, optional air suspension, a 0.29 coefficient of drag, and a very space-age interior made for a very distinctive car, even among the other wedges on American roads back then. What would happen if you showed up at a Citroen show with one of these? Find out with this 1986 Subaru XT Turbo 4×4 for sale in Portland, OR for $3000.

1986 Subaru XT turbo left side

If this car ever completely dies, you could use the shell to keep some giant door open by just stuffing it under there with your foot. But while it’s still running, check out the shape, the sweet stickers, the fairing in front of each wheel to direct the wind around it, and the flush door handles. The top half is the grip, the bottom half is a little flap you just push in to grasp the handle. This car has had a recent ignition service and oil/filter/fuel filter change, and is said to have issues with the air suspension and electric antenna.

1986 Subaru XT turbo right side

Fortunately, this car got the alloy wheels instead of Subaru’s less-attractive hubcaps, which were also fitted to the turbos. Speaking of turbos, the engine boasts a measly 112hp, but remember on a 1980s car you probably still get turbo lag and then an insane shove in the back at 3000rpm. Back in 1986, Subaru faced competitors such as the Nissan 300ZX, Toyota Supra, Mazda RX7, and Mitsubishi Starion, and was perhaps closest to the Mazda both in terms of being out of the mainstream and being less of a boulevard cruiser. Subaru had less derivative styling than Mazda, but that didn’t work out in their favor.

1986 Subaru XT turbo interior

And here’s one of the most compelling reasons to own an XT – check out that interior! Unfortunately, the owner didn’t provide the standard open-driver’s-door-shot, but you can still get a feeling for the experience. The list includes digital dash with 3D-ish LCD including bar graphs for the fuel and temperature gauges, joystick shifter with 4wd button, checkerboard pattern seats, tilt steering wheel and instrument cluster, and those weirdo pods containing all the buttons you’d normally have somewhere on the dash.

1986 Subaru XT turbo gauges

In case you are not feeling that flush, you could have also chosen the DL option, like this 1986 Subaru XT DL for sale for $1000 in Vancouver, WA, just across the river from Portland (go figure). You’ll have to find some other wheels to replace these horrid chrome steelies, but other than that, this is pretty decent for a base model car. For some reason, the bottom-end DL stripper model didn’t even get a rear seat, but it did get the cool dash, just in analog form. This particular car is said to have some kind of overheating problem, but you’ll forget about that when you’re driving along, eyes shielded from the sun by the giant SUBARU banner across the windshield.

1986 Subaru XT DL left front

The engine bay looks reasonably clean, and this picture is a handy reference since the seller of the turbo car did not post a picture of his. It does appear to be equipped with air conditioning, which you’ll want to avoid using unless you want to lose drag races to VW Beetles and Trabants.

1986 Subaru XT DL engine


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4 Responses to “Wedgy! 1986 Subaru XT Turbo 4×4 (plus bonus stripper DL!)”

  1. steve in podunk Says:

    An overheating problem=blown headgasket. I haven’t seen one of these cars on the road in forever; 20 years ago they’d sell for a few hundred bucks (at most) at the dealer auctions because of their propensity for expensive to repair maladies. I like Subies but these were just really bad cars.

  2. mkimber Says:

    Yep, had a spotless mint one bought it new, hit 100,000 miles and head gasket blew, that was that

  3. Let´s sort this out, shall we? – Driven To Write Says:

    […] 1985 Subaru XT […]

  4. tim30 Says:

    I have owned 2 of the same model, i loved them, the head gasket issue was an easy fix, (stop using water for coolant!) i was quick, fun and versatile. if you want to sell it, please email me at

    im looking to trick one out correctly. im an engineer so im not going to ruin it.

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