Junkyard Find: 1979 Subaru GL Wagon
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?
When you’re driving a brown Malaise econo-wagon, you’re pretty well obligated to sport brown plaid upholstery.
The same rule applies when it comes to orange and white tape stripes: you must have them!
I thought that speedometers on US-market cars from the 1979 through 1982 model years were required to max out at 85 MPH. You know, for safety. Either Subaru found some loophole for this car, or someone swapped in a later 120 MPH speedo. Imagine, this car doing 120!
I’ve worked on a few of these things, and I always thought they were pretty unreliable and shoddy next to contemporary Hondas and Toyotas (though Malaise Subarus were built like bank vaults next to Mitsubishis of the period). The quality of Subaru products improved as much in the 1990s as did Hyundai stuff, which may explain the hindsight-based perception that the old GLs were bulletproof (cue the enraged commenters who got 400,000 trouble-free miles out of their Malaise Subies). Were I transported back to 1979 and found myself shopping for a four-wheel-drive car, I’d go for the less civilized but sturdier AMC Eagle SX/4. Still, it’s sad to see all the old (non-BRAT) Subarus getting crushed now.
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1. The brown plaid is just fantastic. 2. The last time I worked on one of these was when I was in Technical School, so either late 1988 or early 1989. What alarmed me about working on Subarus was (I don't know if it is still this way) that they were famous for random design changes through the model year. When ordering parts, not only did you have to provide the year, model and engine size, but also the production date of the car. Coming from working on GM cars where part interchangeability was measured in years, that was weird. 3. By the time most of these went to the scrap yard, they picked up that distinctive Subaru exhaust leak sound (the aforementioned lack of interchangeability made it difficult/impossible to fix leaks in a cost effective manner). I've always found it funny that some people take a perfectly good STi and spend more money on an exhaust system that ends up sounding like one of these old beaters.
The sheetmetal on earlier Subaru's was stamped from recycled Chevy Vegas...