By on June 6, 2012

As I’ve mentioned before, Colorado junkyards are full of Subarus of the late 1970s through the early 1990s. Mostly I’m sort of indifferent to Subarus of this era, with two important exceptions: the BRAT and the XT. Both are fairly rare (the last time I saw a junked XT was last year, when I found this Juggalo-abused ’91), so I came to a screeching halt when I found this XT6.
Someday I will own an XT, though I’m torn between the pseudo-powerful XT6 and the digital instrument cluster of the XT Turbo. Such science-fiction optimism and goofy lines!
The era of loony-looking steering wheels like this ended when airbags became mandatory equipment. In ’91, manufacturers could substitute those maddening automatic seat belts for airbags.
These cars were supposed to have aircraft-influenced styling, which was the reason for the Ki-61-esque shift lever.
Remember analog EQs on car stereos?
Using “H” to designate a boxer engine just never seems right. Maybe call this one an ɛɜ6?

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34 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1991 Subaru XT6...”


  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    A friend’s father bought one of these new in 90 and until these pictures were posted I had forgotten about those stupid finger pinching, freezing closed, snow trapping, cool looking door handles.

  • avatar
    vwbora25

    a very cool little car..was this one 4wd?

  • avatar
    dwight

    Cool looking coupe. Some designs just don’t age. Aside from the pop-up lights, this looks fresh in the sea of same looking aero blobs. The greenhouse is awesome, too. You can’t see out anything anymore.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    The H in H6 stands for horizontally opposed.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    This one only looks to have driven less than 100K miles before it got hit and totaled.

    Other than the paint not adhering to the pot metal door handles, it still looks great – and red too.

    I get the feeling this was bought by someone who didn’t drive too much, judging by how stock it is, down to the factory stereo and it’s overall condition pre-accident.

    I don’t think I’ve spotted one of these in a while around Seattle and if I had, I didn’t pay it any mind

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    I wanted to get an xt back in 03 after I crashed my 3rd gen prelude SI. But those 80s subarus never held up well against the salty winter driving conditions of MA and by 03 the xTs were long gone…

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    I actually knew someone who chose one of these monstrosities over a contemporary MR2 Turbo. He was seduced by all the stupid gadgets which subsequently stopped working in a few years. Tragic.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I would wager there are more than a few ultralite plane enthusiasts who would love to get their hands on that h-6 boxer if it’s in any decent condition. It would be a shame to see it head to the crusher.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      One of my EAA buddies built an airplane with an EFI Subie six in a pusher configuration. Quite a project, and yes it does fly.

      That engine is way too big for an ultralight.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Every time somebody does a WRX swap into something that is NOT one of these or a Brat, I die a little inside.

    This is style.

  • avatar
    replica

    I’m quite enjoying the “Defeat” button. Was there an option for a “Victory” button as well?

  • avatar
    erik_t

    I must confess, I am utterly mystified by that steering wheel and those control… stalks? Do those actually stand proud of the dash itself, cantilevered out from the steering column?

    Took it to 11 here. How much more 1990s Japanese Spaceship? None. None more 1990s Japanese Spaceship.

    • 0 avatar

      Everybody loves 1990s Japanese Spaceships!

    • 0 avatar
      roverv8i

      Yes, they are attached to the steering column and move with the steering wheel as you tilt/telescope it.

      I had an 89 XT6, automatic and all-wheel drive. It was great fun in a not really sporty way. Loved taking it places that most would not expect a sports style car to be such as forest service roads. Remember once not stopping in time and getting the front stuck in a mud bough. Being an automatic it did not have a lock on the center diff. Thought I was going to have to have someone sit on the front for more traction and then remembered that the parking brake is on the front wheels. Pulling up on it sent enough power to the back to let me reverse out of the mud.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    From the front it looks a lot like a Prelude of the same vintage. I wonder if that’s just coincidence. Makes me miss my old 3rd gen Si, though.

  • avatar
    Madroc

    This car got a nice writeup in a book called “Crap Cars.” It notes the steering wheel, “which was asymmetrical for no good reason at all,” and opines that the shifter “actually resembled a giant phallus. Which, as luck would have it, is how you’d feel if you were driving one.”

  • avatar
    AnsonYu

    Poor Land Rover Discovery II next to it…

  • avatar
    JMII

    That EQ is all kinds of awesome, also digging the trip computer buttons, but what did the “alarm” button do? The steering wheel is all kinds of WRONG (yes all caps required). I remember thinking these cars were very edgy in their day, and really captured that cartoon Japanese robot look. The rear deck is huge and lower then the front hood, almost no car today comes in such proportions. And yes as ex-’89 Prelude Si owner I see the resemblance in the front, however the Prelude was lower and less boxy looking with the grill under the bumper not IN it.

  • avatar

    I had one of these. Loved the car. Hated the air suspension. They kept springing leaks and had to be replaced, or you rode around on a rock.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Wow..seeing this car takes me nack to the “car heartache days of high school” (circa 1990) when I craved a new Subie just like this one, but knew I was years away from that reality. The rarity of the XT models, at least in Texas, added to their appeal.

  • avatar
    prancingmoose

    It’s funny you posted this. I visited a pull a part in Knoxville a couple of weeks ago and came across one of these as well. I had completely forgotten they existed haha.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I test drove a turbo AWD XT in 1986, wondering if it was worth swapping my 1984 CRX for. The AWD wasn’t sufficient compensation for the poor handling, coarse engine, slightly balky shifter, odd ergonomics, and dorky electronic instruments. I went back to the CRX with no further temptation from the Sube.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    The Xt is quirky, but if you’re really looking for Subaru at its quirkiest- try the SVX.

  • avatar
    Motorhead10

    There was a pristine one of these making the rounds at the auto shows last season – I remember seeing it in Philadelphia but pretty sure it was at the bigger venues, too. Maybe Detroit or LA, pretty sure not Frankfurt. I spent some time looking it over – more amazed that such a nice one even still existed than the weirdness of it. These were on my radar as my first car in 1985 – went with an ’85 Mazda RX-7 instead.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I miss analog EQs in modern car stereo systems. What passes for an EQ today (three bands, really) is a joke.

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    Had to do a double take here! After looking at all the pics, now I want one too! Of course, I also saw the resemblance to a similar vintage Prelude. So do I want one of these, or a Prelude Si 4WS?

  • avatar
    sckid213

    I am truly puzzled by the A/C controls. I see several functions are included on the pod to the right of the wheel, but where are the fan speed and temp controls?

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    Get the turbo, digital dashes like that will probably be the only cool thing to last from that era in another 20 years time.

  • avatar
    idiotking

    As a senior in High School, my best friend’s mom traded in a Cutlass Ciera for one of these. I never got to drive it, but spent many an evening in the passenger seat, holding on for dear life as he attempted to make it fly. Nothing but fond memories of this odd little duck.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    A friend of mine in high school had the turbo version of this car with the absolutely nutty faux 3D digital dashboard, with the boost gauge, and a graphic of the car and it’s suspension level setting. I remember thinking it was completely absurd that his parents had the engine rebuilt, because even then, the car was still a bit beaterish with faded paint, and a somewhat ratty interior.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in the late 80’s early 90’s there was one of these always parked on my street. Base model XT, really really base. light blue, FWD, steel wheels, black bumpers and no back seat, just a panel with a warning label telling you it is dangerous to sit there.


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