Junkyard Find: 1984 Subaru GL Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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Prior to the 1980s, Subarus were known by Americans more for being tiny and cheap than anything else (though some car shoppers in snow-prone areas came to appreciate Subaru's optional four-wheel-drive system during that time), but then the bigger second-generation Leone went on sale here for the 1980 model year and Subaru became quite a bit more mainstream on our shores. Today's Junkyard Find is one of those second-gen cars, found in a Colorado self-service yard.

junkyard find 1984 subaru gl sedan

1984 was the last model year here for the second-generation Leone in sedan, coupe and wagon form; the US-market hatchback stayed on this chassis through 1989 and the BRAT pickup through 1987.

Subaru didn't use the Leone name in the United States, so all the (non-BRAT) Leone-based cars sold here were called "The Subaru" and badged according to trim level until the Loyale name appeared for the 1990 model year. The plastic under the faux-chrome emblems was bright yellow, so it looks bad when the coating peels off in the Colorado sun.

The GL was the top trim level in 1984, so this car is nicely equipped for its time.

You could get the four-door GL sedan with four-wheel-drive, but this one is a front-wheel-drive car with a five-speed manual transmission (the base and DL Subarus got a four-on-the-floor as standard equipment). If you wanted an automatic transmission, you paid an extra 301 bucks ($875 now).

The list price for a 1984 Subaru GL front-wheel-drive sedan with manual transmission was $7,237, or about $21,040 in 2022 dollars. The absolute cheapest Subaru that year was the base three-door hatchback, which started at $5,096 ($14,815 today).

The GL got a 73-horsepower 1.8-liter boxer four under the hood, while the DL and base Subarus had to get by with a 1.6-liter with 59 horses.

Curb weight was just 2,190 pounds for the GL sedan, meaning it was slow but not intolerably so.

A new AE82 Toyota Corolla sedan went for between $6,498 and $7,198 with five-speed manual transmission in 1984, while a Civic sedan cost $7,099. The Subaru DL and GL were right with them in specs and pricing, and you could pay a bit more and get four-wheel-drive.

This one has air conditioning and an AM/FM radio with separate cassette deck. Back in the early 1990s, I used this easy-to-extract Subaru sound-system setup in a couple of my hooptie cars at the time.

Just better than 150,000 miles on the clock.

These cars rusted enthusiastically, but they don't use much road salt along Colorado's Front Range so the rot on this one happened in slow motion.

Real-world resale value on a rusty 38-year-old Subaru with two-wheel-drive and a manual transmission must be hovering just around scrap value these days, so here it sits, awaiting the cold steel jaws of The Crusher.

The GL-10 was the top version of the Subaru GL.

Number-one-selling import in Maine and Vermont!

Poor abused Subarus.

You don't see many US-market ads for the Leone four-door. For that, we must go to Japan.

The Leone 4WD was a super sedan.

For links to more than 2,300 additional Junkyard Finds, be sure to visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

[Images: The author]

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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on Sep 13, 2022

    I started with an '88 Warthog turbo wagon, as an eight year old winter beater in 1997. Had air suspension, automatic, AWD, the lot and a fuzzy blue interior that was quite comfy. Not a bad old bus. Of course, prewarned by sniggering lads of the Cprescott variety, I checked inside my boxer shorts to see if Shorty was still there before signing the check. Two years later I got an Impreza TS which gave almost ten years service and less than $1k in unplanned repairs. Both exhibited Subaru's less than perfect fuel injection mapping, so occasional hiccups, dead bands in the midrange throttle response and mediocre mileage, but no other quirks. Todays Subarus are a dead zone to me, being perambulating ninny cars, but I look back on the dowdy-looking Warthog as an interesting drive.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Sep 13, 2022

    This car is where it belongs!

  • ToolGuy I appreciate the thoughtful comments from the little people here, and I would like to remind everyone that Ford Motor Company offers a full range of vehicles which are ideal for any driving environment including New York City. The size and weight our of product portfolio has been fully and completely optimized to be friendly to the planet and friendly to pedestrians while consuming the bare minimum of resources from our precious planet (I am of course a lifelong environmentalist). Plus, our performance models will help you move forward and upward by conquering obstacles and limits such as congestion and your fellow humans more quickly at a higher rate of speed. I invite you to learn more at our website.Signed, William Clay Ford Jr.
  • George Hughes What ever happened to the American can-do attitude. I know what, it was coopted by the fossil fuel industry in their effort to protect their racket.
  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting#cite_note-auto-1][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriorshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting
  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.