Crapwagon Outtake: The Subaru RX Coupe

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

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.

As far as I knew, Subaru’s two door models included the XT, the SVX and the Impreza Coupe. Oh, and the BRAT. But I had no idea that the RX Coupe existed – not that many other people did either. Based on the Leone/GL, only 2600 RX Coupes were imported over a two year period from 1987 to 1989, with an automatic transmission only available in 1989.

Power came from a 1.8L turbocharged boxer-four, making 115 horsepower and 134 lb-ft of torque. Although the RX looked like a sporty coupe, it came with a low-range transmission and a locking center differential, as well as an unusually high ride height. On-road performance may not have been as sharp as some of its competitors, but the grip and handling on loose surfaces made up the difference. In a way, it was the Outback sedan, long before it was a glimmer in the eye of a New England Subaru dealer.

The RX’s limited numbers translate into a scarce supply. The only RX for sale in the country is this beautifully preserved sedan, which has the 5-speed manual/low-range combo and a very period correct color scheme. If I had one, it would look more like this.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Pinzgauer Pinzgauer on Mar 01, 2014

    This is the car that started my Subaru obsession in the late 90's. I was 16, it was 1998, and a neighbor who was a Subaru guy had an absolute mint RX Turbo Coupoe for sale. I drooled over it for a long time and then one day it was gone. I wish I could have afforded it. Haven't seen another since. BTW - on the topic of the car for sale - stay away. That seller has a bad reputation at best - you can read about them on several Landrover forums. They seem to bring a lot of "pristine" Subarus up north from the desert but I suspect many come out of junk yards.

    • EchoChamberJDM EchoChamberJDM on Mar 01, 2014

      agreed, best to steer a wide berth from this seller...the seller seems to have offered a lot of low dollar watches, etc. recently to boost his feedback rating. The most recent vehicle he sold received the following feedback: Fraud,Material Misrepresentation,No Title,Car&All Fees Fully Paid past 3 months. Not a good sign....but perhaps that's why all his cars are sitting. By the way, seller is listed in Staten Island, which got hit with major flooding during Hurricane Sandy. Not sure where these cars came from, but just sayin....

  • 05lgt 05lgt on Mar 03, 2014

    2 door turbo with a low range? I think this is the model that got me banned from test driving new subies back then. You'd think mud didn't wash off roofs or something.

  • Bachewy Bachewy on Mar 03, 2014

    118HP WITH a turbo? Wow. That's anemic even by late 80's standards.

  • Samhain Samhain on Dec 02, 2015

    Actually, I have one of these that I would be willing to part with ... 4 speed auto w/turbo, air conditioning, power steering & brakes 140k miles