Rare Rides: This Vintage 1981 Subaru GL is a Charming Desert Fox

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides this vintage 1981 subaru gl is a charming desert fox

Your Rare Ride today is a quite old 1981 Subaru GL wagon. It comes complete with a manual transmission, brownish paint, 4×4 drivetrain, brougham Desert Fox trim, and plaid seats. I figured you wouldn’t be too interested in seeing it.

Oh, who am I kidding? You all clicked through as soon as you saw the headline image, and you’ll be glad you did.

It’s not often a Subaru this old and in this sort of show quality condition comes up for sale. This little wagon is a memory from times past at Subaru, where the name of the game was quirky and the CUV did not exist. Not even in the wildest dreams of the LSD-powered marketing executive.

This example has lived in Arizona and California which, if my memory serves me right, are mostly salt and winter-free areas. Prior owners include two from the same family, followed by a Subaru mechanic. Babied and preserved, it’s in excellent condition.

It would seem we have a top-spec model here, complete with a Desert Fox exterior decoration package. I’d love a Subaru aficionado to come along and explain the history (and demise) of this dealer installed trim, as I’ve never seen one before.

There’s even a (functioning) hidden center-mounted “Passing Light” behind the grille emblem. I’m going to call this feature a Cyborg Touring Lamp (or CTL) because it sounds more fun and Subaru-y.

And would you look at those seats! Like a 1970s rumpus room, brown plaid comforts your bum in this little go-anywhere vehicle.

Passengers will be on those plaid thrones for a while, as the standard 1.8-liter engine won’t get you anywhere in a hurry. But that just means more time to enjoy your time capsule.

Currently the GL is listed on eBay, and I’d rather have it than anything made by Subaru this decade. It has ye olde Japanese charm in spades. With just under 66,000 miles on the odometer, it deserves gentle driving and further preservation.

With a current bid of $7,000 (just under the reserve), one of our B&B members would be wise to get out their wallet!

[Images: eBay]

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2 of 43 comments
  • 05lgt 05lgt on May 24, 2017

    Truly a thing of beauty. I miss wheels like that.

  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on May 24, 2017

    My first car was an '82 4dr sedan, 5spd. I desperately wanted a 4x4 wagon when I was in high school - so cool. One other quirky thing - like old Saabs, the handbrake was on the front wheels. Made my attempts to do handbrake turns in the snow less than successful...

  • Dukeisduke I tried watching the live reveal last night, but after 15 minutes of jawing by MT+ personalities (and yes, I like Chris Jacobs and Alex Taylor), I turned it off.
  • Paul MBAs gonna MBA.
  • Zipper69 Clearly beyond German thought processes to simply keep A for IC engine and use "E" for all other so you can have a A6 and a E6.
  • Ianw33 It makes me laugh how many complaints i see here in the comments section. Leave it to "car enthusiasts" to be unhappy with the fact that a mainstream auto manufacturer produced a 1K HP car with a warranty that isn't $250K+. can't we just be happy that something crazy/fun exists like this before its gone, even if its not your cup of tea?
  • YellowDuck This is a completely vulgar vehicle. I understand that that is the point, but still...pretty douchey.