Junkyard Find: 1987 Subaru GL-10 Turbo 4WD Wagon

junkyard find 1987 subaru gl 10 turbo 4wd wagon

By the second half of the 1980s, Subaru had moved beyond being known only for tiny, hilarious econoboxes. While American Subaru shoppers could still get front-wheel-drive cheapmobiles at that time, the same showrooms also offered futuristic-looking s ports cars and four-wheel-drive family wagons loaded with luxury features. Today’s Junkyard Find is the swankiest Subaru wagon money could buy in 1987 North America: a GL-10 4WD Turbo, found in a Denver car graveyard last summer.

This was the period during which Subaru USA named every member of its Leone family (except for the BRAT pickup) using a trim level that doubled as the model name. The cheapest ones were DLs, and then the regular GL was a step up. The GL 4WD Turbo was king of the Leone jungle in 1987, and the GL-10 package added a heap of gadgets and comfort-enhancing features atop that.

The GL-10 got a Mars Base digital instrument cluster (sadly, some junkyard shopper snagged the one out of this car before I could), power windows, sunroof, automatic transmission, and— of course— a turbocharged engine good for 115 horsepower.

Subaru didn’t sell cars with true full-time all-wheel-drive until the 1990s (every Subaru sold here had AWD starting in the 1996 model year), so this one has a four-wheel-drive system activated via a switch on the gearshift lever. You weren’t supposed to drive it in 4WD on dry pavement for long periods, but good luck explaining that to American drivers!

Someone pulled out the Alpine cassette deck and then left it. It was challenging preventing these units from being stolen, back in the 1980s, and many car owners resorted to faux-factory-AM-radio covers to camouflage their nice aftermarket decks.

Power sunroofs were serious status symbols in 1987. I’m still not sure why.

It’s a bit rusty now, but it stayed alive for 33 years and it appears to have been a runner until the very end.

Even the affordable DL wagon had an automatic transmission and power steering as standard features in 1987. Subaru’s response to the Joe Isuzu ads of the same period wasn’t so funny, but at least they tried.

For links to 2,100+ additional Junkyard Finds, please visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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  • Teddyc73 Teddyc73 on May 18, 2021


  • Davew833 Davew833 on May 19, 2021

    I picked up several of these for $100-$200 each about 20 years ago in various states of neediness. I had an '87 or '88 identical to this one including the digital dash, but the 3AT transmission Subaru put in these was problematic, something about a plastic gear breaking, and I never could get it working. I also had a '90 Loyale AWD turbo wagon which was basically the same car but with the improved 4EAT transmission and fewer bells and whistles (no digital dash.) It was a fun little car but the roof had rusted through around the windshield. I kept it patched together for a few years until it started leaking down into the dash, and then one of the TWO timing belts broke. I decided I'd gotten my $150 worth of fun and junked it.

  • Ronnie Schreiber From where is all that electricity needed to power an EV transportation system going to come? Ironically, the only EV evangelist that I know of who even mentions the fragile nature of our electrical grid is Elon Musk. None of the politicians pushing EVs go anywhere near it, well, unless they are advocating for unreliable renewables like wind and solar.
  • FreedMike I just don’t see the market here - I think about 1.2% of Jeep drivers are going to be sold on the fuel cost savings here. And the fuel cost savings are pretty minimal, per the EPA: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/PowerSearch.do?action=noform&path=1&year1=2022&year2=2022&make=Jeep&baseModel=Wrangler&srchtyp=ymm&pageno=1&rowLimit=50Annual fuel costs for this vehicle are $2200 and $2750 for the equivalent base turbo-four model. I don’t get it.
  • FreedMike How about the “Aztek” package? Wait, this car already has that…Said it before and I’ll say it again: they need to restyle the hind end on this car, stat.
  • Johnster "Vale" is the [s]cheap[/s] lower-priced performance version with black trim and stiff suspension."Mist" is the "DeLuxe" version with a bit more chrome and trim. (Sort of like the "Decor Package" option.)"Magentic" is the full-on Brougham treatment (in its current state) with more chrome trim than the "Mist" and all sorts of gimmicky electronic features inside. (Sadly, it will not include simulated landau irons or a vinyl covered roof, even as an option.)"Aurora" is the Oldsmobile of Cadillacs (sort of like the old Cadillac Calais). No, that's not right. It's the top-of-the-line model, sort of a "Grand Touring" version, with not as much chrome as the "Magentic" but all of the gimmicky electronic features and a stiffer suspension.
  • Drew8MR Why can't CARB leave hobbyists alone? Maybe lay off the low hanging fruit and go after the gross polluters. Bring back the rolling exemption.