Junkyard Find: 1987 Subaru XT GL

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The Subaru XT is a car you won’t see often in most parts of the country, but Denver junkyards have tremendous quantities of old Subarus and so I see them on a regular basis here. So far, this series has had this ’85 XT Turbo, this ’91 XT, this ’91 XT6, and now today’s ’87 XT.


I shot a bit of video of the tilt wheel/instrument cluster in action. Since I have developed an unhealthy obsession with 1980s Japanese digital instrument clusters, I bought the one out of the ’85 XT Turbo. Today’s XT had the regular analog cluster, so I left it in the car.

If you like 1980s design, this car is full of good examples. I was in college in 1987, and I remember thinking very clearly at the time that nobody will ever be capable of feeling nostalgia for this era. Now that Tears For Fears plays in supermarkets and Members Only jackets are making a comeback, I have been proved wrong about that embarrassing decade once again.

Multi Point FI!

These cars were full of weird little touches like these door-latch cover panels. Sure, more stuff to go wrong (and with 1980s Subarus, much did go wrong), but it was still cool stuff.

This example is the ordinary front-wheel-drive version.

Someday I will be unable to resist the lure of the Alcyone, and I will buy a nice XT Turbo or XT6.









Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Jun 16, 2014

    Back in the early 90′s there used to be one of these parked on my street. Base model, XT DL (Talk about your letter and trim level letters) no AWD in light blue, black bumpers with steelies and the center caps. It did not even have a rear seat, just a pressed board package shelf with a sticker warning you not to seat passengers there. Obviously no rear seat belts. Think an old 30′s, 40′s Business coupe.

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jun 19, 2014

    My friend's wife had an XT, a '90, I think. It had the analog instrument panel, and was white. It was slow, it broke down an awful lot, and I was asked to help fix it, when it wasn't something the dealer had to deal with. As it aged, it just had more and more weird issues, a lot of them having to do with the brakes for some reason. One day, my friend took it to the dealer for dead A/C, and it never came back. He traded it for a Mitsubishi Eclipse, a base one, maroon metal flake. That car was great for 4 years, then it was stolen (First of 4 vehicles that were stolen while they lived in a not so great neighborhood) and totalled after the folks who stole it rolled it down into a ravine. He and his wife didn't even know it was gone until the police called to tell them it had been found. They had a second kid on the way, so they ended up buying an SUV, that was stolen and trashed too, in almost the same area.

  • Stephen My "mid-level" limited edition Tonino Lambo Ferraccio Junior watch has performed flawlessly with attractive understated style for nearly 20 years. Their cars are not so much to my taste-- my Acura NSX is just fine. Not sure why you have such condescension towards these excellent timepieces. They are attractive without unnecessary flamboyance, keep perfect time and are extremely reliable. They are also very reasonably priced.
  • Dana You don’t need park, you set auto hold (button on the console). Every BMW answers to ‘Hey, BMW’, but you can set your own personal wake word in iDrive. It takes less than 5 minutes to figure that that out, btw. The audio stays on which is handy for Teams meetings. Once your phone is out of range, the audio is stopped on the car. You can always press down on the audio volume wheel which will mute it, if it bothers you. I found all the controls very intuitive.
  • ToolGuy Not sure if I've ever said this, or if you were listening:• Learn to drive, people.Also, learn which vehicles to take home with you and which ones to walk away from. You are an adult now, think for yourself. (Those ads are lying to you. Your friendly neighborhood automotive dealer, also lying to you. Politicians? Lying to you. Oh yeah, learn how to vote lol.)Addendum for the weak-minded who think I am advocating some 'driver training' program: Learning is not something you do in school once for all time. Learning how to drive is not something that someone does for you. It is a continuous process driven by YOU. Learn how to learn how to drive, and learn to drive. Keep on learning how to drive. (You -- over there -- especially you, you kind of suck at driving. LOL.)Example: Do you know where your tires are? When you are 4 hours into a 6 hour interstate journey and change lanes, do you run over the raised center line retroreflective bumpers, or do you steer between them?
  • Mike Bradley Advertising, movies and TV, manufacturing, and car culture have all made speeding and crashing the ultimate tests of manhood. Throw in the political craziness and you've got a perfect soup of destruction and costs.
  • Lou_BC Jay Leno had said that EV's would be good since they could allow the continued existence of ICE cars for enthusiasts. That sentiment makes sense. Many buyers see vehicles as a necessary appliance.
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