For all the whining (here too) about the classic car market escaping the car lover on a budget, there are still plenty of interesting options out there. Sure, they won’t get you into the Mille Miglia, nor are they always achingly beautiful, but you could say the same for some cars that have experienced an explosion in value. So if you can’t afford that German classic from the 1980s – which was never down into the low thousands anyways – but you still want a car with a horizontally-opposed, turbocharged engine, and Corvairs are just too, um, hoarder-ish for you, why not check out this 1983 Subaru GL Turbo Wagon, for sale for $1500 in Olympia, WA.
It definitely shows its 176,000 miles, but compared to many a Subaru its age, it’s complete, free of major body damage, and sports what looks to be a widened version of the multispoke white wheel commonly found on 4wd models of the eighties. Incidentally, those wear tires that only have a few thousand miles on them. Notice the TURBO logo on the rearview mirrors. The flat black rattle can paint on the hood and grill are unfortunate, but this is not some highly-prized collector car, and maybe you can reverse it by doing prep and taking it to your local Maarl Scheibco. And look, it has clear corner lights, which are hot with the import tuner crowd of 2003!
The seller calls the interior’s condition “great” – maybe that’s great in the same way as your worn-in, slightly ripped pair of jeans, because there are some tears on the driver’s seat bolsters, and the carpet and upholstery seem to be dirty. As with the exterior, though, the interior looks complete and free of major damage – hopefully some work with a steam vacuum will get you most of the way there.
TURBO. It’s not a beautiful engine, and in spite of its turbocharger, its 1.8 liters only generate 111hp and 136 lb.-ft. of torque. But it’s probably still fun on boost, and it changes this car from something of a dog to one of the first sporty wagons. Also, according to internet lore, these engines are not capable of handling significant power upgrades. At a general mechanical level, the seller has done plenty of work – brake lines, pads and discs, a conversion from automatic to 5-speed dual-range manual, and an oil cooler to help keep things in good shape.
TURBO. Subaru didn’t want you to forget you’d bought the top-of-the-line powertrain, because with only 111hp, you might. Rust spots are visible on the hatch, and there’s likely minor rust elsewhere on the car, but overall, this looks like a good, drivable car for many more miles of quirky Japanese fun. And it’s nice to find one with the 5-speed conversion already done. Which begs the question – after doing all this work, which can’t have been cheap or easy, why is the seller moving it along? Go in with your eyes and ears open and you might come out of it with a car to turn heads on the streets of the college towns of the Pacific Northwest and New England.