Ur-Impreza – 1976 Subaru DL Wagon

If you have ever read some of the British classic car magazines, you’ll no doubt have noticed the dealer ads showing remarkably preserved examples of middle-of-the-road (by local standards) cars for pretty short money. Of course the relative strength of the pound makes them seem even cheaper, but it seems pretty unusual to find equivalent cars here in North America. Every now and again, though, something interesting comes up, like this 1976 Subaru DL Wagon for sale for $3500 in Seattle, WA.

1976 Subaru DL Wagon left front

Said to be the first car sold by Carter Subaru of Seattle in 1975 or 1976, this 29,000 mile wagon wears a pretty shade of medium blue with the oh-so-70s door decals. The current owner seems to have purchased it directly from Carter when they finally decided to stop using the car as a showroom display car in 2008, and a post on a Minnesota Subaru forum suggests it’s been with him since then (the plates have changed, but the seller’s name has not). He seems to have a fairly realistic idea of the value, and since that post dates back to 2009 – it was said to have sold then – it would be interesting to find out whether it came back into his hands, or if it never sold in the end.

1976 Subaru DL Wagon trunk

While the car has only a 5-digit odometer, the condition seems to underscore the indicated mileage. There is some minor bubbling in a couple of spots, so you’ll want to investigate a bit more carefully – could this explain part of the story as to why this car was set aside as a display? The dealer purchased the car as a trade-in in 1996 and did some significant refurbishing, presumably with NOS parts from Subaru. The trunk shot is worth including here, as its interior seems completely free of the scuffs and damage you’d expect on a 39-year-old wagon. The elongated wheel well on the left is most likely due to the fuel filler.

1976 Subaru DL Wagon engine

A French Michelin seems upscale for what was a rather cheap car at the time, and while the EA71 powerplant with all its hoses, tubes, and wires looks a bit of a (factory) mess, it’s impressive that they still seem to have spare room around the jack. The 1600cc engine put out a meager 67hp and 81 lb.-ft. in US specification, though there was a dual carb unit in Japan that bumped horsepower by about 25. Unfortunately, this is not the four-wheel-drive wagon that made Subaru famous, but less drag on the engine means it’ll weigh under 2000 lb. and you can get a bit more poke from the thing.

1976 Subaru DL Wagon interior

Here’s the interior, with only two significant flaws – some seam splitting on the original vinyl, and a totally-out-of-place Hurst shifter that you should give to the first Mustang owner you see. Other than that, the carpets are immaculate, dash is free of any cracks, and all the plastic bits seem to be present. The car is said to have no leaks and run well, so if you need a little runabout to use in town, this might be the perfect choice.

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