By on November 12, 2014

19 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhere I live (Denver), wrecking yards overflow with old Subarus. I walk past junked early-80s Leones (or GLs or whatever Subaru’s confusing naming conventions of the era were) all the time, but I’ll always stop and photograph a BRAT. So far in this series, the BRAT roster includes this ’79, this ’84, this ’82, and this Sawzall-converted ’86. Last week, I spotted another example, and it still had its Chicken Tax-dodgin’ jump seats. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2014

03 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn RodgersThe Subaru BRAT, basically a factory El Camino-ized Leone, has quite the lawsuit history in this country, due to the Chicken Tax-evading-but-dangerous jump seats in the bed that made the BRAT a “car,” legally speaking. The BRAT was sold in the United States until the 1987 model year, but it’s nearly impossible to find examples built after the early 1980s. Here’s a reasonably nice-looking ’84 that Shawn Rodgers (you may recognize him as the hero of the Junkyard Build Quality Challenges, as well as the captain of the very fast Bunny With a Pancake On Its Head 24 Hours of LeMons Rabbit team) saw in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard last week and was kind enough to photograph for us. (Read More…)

By on February 28, 2014

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I once read a book abut Subaru’s history in the American market, which I assume makes me an expert on all things Fuji Heavy. That and I came home from the hospital in a GL10 Turbo station wagon, which suffered an ignominious death from rust just months later. But somehow, there was a gap in my Subaru knowledge, specifically with their two-door models.

(Read More…)

By on November 22, 2013

01 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing that makes Colorado wrecking yards different from those in the rest of the country is the large numbers of Subarus in every yard. We’re talking the history of Subaru North America in every yard here. In fact, you’ll see more 1980s and 1990s Leones aka GLs, DLs, and Loyales in a typical Denver-area self-serve yard than you’ll see Corollas or Civics. You’ll also find lots of more recent Legacies and Imprezas, not to mention XTs, BRATs, SVXs, and even the occasional Justy 4WD. 1970s Subarus, however, are getting pretty rare here; in this series, we’ve seen just this ’79 Leone wagon and this ’79 GL sedan so far. Today, we add this very-much-of-its-time ’78 wagon. (Read More…)

By on January 16, 2013

You could buy the Subaru BRAT in the United States until the 1987 model year (though removing the Chicken Tax-loophole jump seats— which made the BRAT a passenger car, legally speaking— meant that it got a lot more expensive in 1985). Thing is, Coloradans love BRATs, which means you can’t even find a total basket-case example for cheap here. What to do? Why, take a beater 4WD Leone aka GL hatchback and apply ingenuity! (Read More…)

By on August 7, 2012

Subaru went through a lot of bewildering names for the early Leone in North America, and they’ve retained that tradition with their Legacy- and Impreza-based Outbacks in more recent years. Here in Colorado, I find astonishing quantities of 20+ year-old Subarus in wrecking yards. Most are four-wheel-drive machines, for obvious reasons, but every so often I run across an elderly front-wheel-drive Leone. Here’s a rare 2WD coupe version I spotted in Aurora a few weeks back. (Read More…)

By on January 19, 2012

If you’re familiar with the story of kickbacks and dodgy dealings at American Honda in the 1970s and 1980s (yes, copies of Arrogance and Accords go for $150 a pop these days), you know that getting a new Accord was quite a challenge for American car buyers during the Late Malaise Era. You sure as hell weren’t going to get that shiny new Accord hatchback for anywhere near invoice, if you could find one at all… but hold on now, what’s that affordable, Japanese-built, gas-sipping front-wheel-drive hatchback at the dealership across the street, the car that looks so Accord-like? Surely it must be every bit as good as the Honda, yes? (Read More…)

By on December 13, 2011

You didn’t start seeing Subarus in large numbers in North America until the third-gen Leone showed up. Even so, most of these quarter-century-old veterans are gone now, even in regions they once dominated (e.g. New England, Colorado). I found this more-80s-than-Wang Chung example in a Denver self-service yard a few weeks back, and I had no choice but to document this soon-to-be-rare piece of Subaru history. (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2011

While Malaise Era Subarus have disappeared from just about every location in the world outside of Colorado, a Subaru Leone sedan is a rare sight even here in Denver. At first glance, I wasn’t sure whether I was looking at a Corolla or maybe even another RX-2. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2011


The Malaise Subaru Apocalypse is in full swing in Colorado, if we are to judge from the selection of old Leones in Denver junkyards these days. Yesterday, we saw this ’82 GL “Cyclops”, but that was just the beginning of the Subaru death toll in this yard. A few rows away, I found this brown GL wagon, a little rustier than the ’82 but still appearing to have plenty of life left in it. Is anyone restoring these things? (Read More…)

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