Junkyard Find: 1983 Honda Accord- No, Wait, Subaru GL Hatchback!

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1983 honda accord no wait subaru gl hatchback

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?

Well, no. The 2WD Subaru STD/DL/GL hatch (yes, the base model was called the STD, nobody bought it— for obvious reasons— and I’m still searching for some STD badges for my collection) was quite Accord-like at 100 feet, but it neither rode like an Accord nor lasted 300,000 miles like an Accord. I’ve got plenty of miles in both types: in 1987, I dumped a girlfriend with a white GL hatch in favor of one who drove a metallic-green Accord. I have never regretted that decision.

I don’t know when I last saw one of these things, on the street or off. Most early-to-mid-80s American Leone buyers went for the wagon, and most of the hatches that did make it out of the showroom wore out and got crushed while Bill Clinton was still in the White House. To be fair, early Accords are nearly as rare (though I found one in the same junkyard as this car; stay tuned to the Junkyard Find Channel for more Japanese Malaise Era history).

Since I live in Colorado, I see many elderly Subarus in my local self-service yards, but 99% of them are the four-wheel-drive models that helped drive the last few dozen nails in the coffin of the sturdy-but-crude-and-thirsty AMC Eagle. This rusty front-driver was a rare find indeed.

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  • Rental Man Rental Man on Jan 21, 2012

    During the 70's there was an Arab Embargo that caused every large auto maker from Japan to keep their product away from Israel. This went on until the late 80's. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda & Mitsubishi all stayed out of the holy land. Subaru did not. Joined later by Suzuki & Daihatsu, Subaru had nothing to loose. By then the word was out about the legendery? reliability of the Japanese crop and the Israelis wanted to claim their own. Until Mitsubishi came in during the late 80's Subaru's were the best selling car in Israel. Legend has it that Israel was back then the #2 export country after the US in terms of sales. As snow rarely ever hits the Israeli main land for more then a day every few years salt was never a problem and rust not an Issue. Lancia's had the cancer issue covered. 90% of the sales were FWD. The Brat pickup truck (never known by that name) is a legend out there with stories about bedouins tribes members who drive them up goat trails & watch Humvee's get stuck.

  • Davew833 Davew833 on Nov 02, 2012

    An '80 1600DL5 2WD hatchback like the one above except rootbeer brown was my first Japanese car. I bought it in '86 with 103k miles for about $700. I loved the quirkiness of it, including the passenger seat that would recline without warning and the rear windshield washer that could be turned to shoot over the top of the car and hit someone in front. I drove it for 2 years and then passed it on to my sister whose "boyfriend" vandalized it by draining all the oil out so he could "rescue" her when the engine quit. A few years later I had another '80 2wd hatchback that I *think* was a STD... although it was red and had a tacky dealer- installed striping kit (remember those?). I bought an '82 GL sedan for parts and switched the fancier front-end trim over along with the square headlights. I don't remember any STD badging-- it seemed like Subaru had DL, GL, GL-10, and GLF badges, I'm still not sure what all the differences were. About 7 years after that, I had an '89 4WD hatchback that was even silver like the one above. I've had many cars including a number of '82 and '83 Accord sedans and hatchbacks, but that '89 GL 4WD hatch is one I really wish I'd kept.

  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.