Junkyard Find: 1994 Subaru Loyale 4WD Wagon
Subaru's first major sales success in North America came with the Leone, which debuted in Japan in 1971 and here in 1972. It went through several generations…
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Junkyard Find: 1984 Subaru GL Sedan

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.

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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.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Subaru DL Sedan

Living in Colorado, I see so many discarded Subarus during my junkyard explorations that it takes a very unusual one to make me reach for my camera. An SVX might do it (though not always), or maybe a BRAT (again, not always), or perhaps a Subaru with Saab badges. A really early Subaru, from the Malaise Era days when few Americans took the brand seriously — I think that’s always worth shooting.

Here’s a first-generation Leone that I had to go all the way to Northern California to find.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Subaru GL 4WD Wagon

Living in Colorado (as I do) and spending a lot of time in junkyards ( as I do), I see discarded Subarus. Lots of discarded Subarus, in fact, so many that I only notice the more interesting ones — say, an XT Turbo or a really ancient wagon out of a novelty song.

Today’s Junkyard Find isn’t particularly noteworthy by those standards, but it seems to embody so many Denver Subaru stereotypes that I decided to photograph it. High mileage, high final owner, and high levels of oxidation, all here at a mile-high junkyard.

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Rare Rides: A 1970 Subaru 360, America's First Subaru Experience

Subaru is presently in the midst of a sales boom. As Tim Cain pointed out last week in his Subaru Question of the Day, the company has found fairly recent success selling what are essentially three different variations of the exact same all-wheel drive crossover formula. Customers just go into the dealer and say whether they’d like the extra small, small, or medium-sized version. But long before today’s crossovers, and even the quirky Leone and XT which preceded them, there was Subaru’s genesis.

And the little white Kei car you see before you is the very genesis of which we speak.

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Junkyard Find: 1991 Subaru Loyale, Colorado Stereotypes Edition

I moved from California to Colorado in 2010, and the stereotype of the stony Subaru driver who snowboards/hikes/camps/rock-climbs, has some sort of retriever dog, and drinks super-hoppy craft beers turns out to be based on reality.

Everyone here drives Subarus — hell, even I have an Outback in the fleet — but we’re talking about the beat-to-hell, 15-to-30-year-old cars here, and not shiny new Crosstreks in the REI parking lot. Last week, I saw the perfect example of that type of Subaru in a Denver self-service yard: this rusty, crusty, 200,000-mile, Pleiades-badged Colorado veteran, which spent its long life driving to trailheads and brewpubs, is now set to donate its metals to the global commodities markets.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Subaru BRAT

Where I live (Denver), wrecking yards overflow with old Subarus. I walk past junked early-80s Leones (or GLs or whatever Subaru’s confusing naming conventions of the era were) all the time, but I’ll always stop and photograph a BRAT. So far in this series, the BRAT roster includes this ’79, this ’84, this ’82, and this Sawzall-converted ’86. Last week, I spotted another example, and it still had its Chicken Tax-dodgin’ jump seats.

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Subaru BRAT

The Subaru BRAT, basically a factory El Camino-ized Leone, has quite the lawsuit history in this country, due to the Chicken Tax-evading-but-dangerous jump seats in the bed that made the BRAT a “car,” legally speaking. The BRAT was sold in the United States until the 1987 model year, but it’s nearly impossible to find examples built after the early 1980s. Here’s a reasonably nice-looking ’84 that Shawn Rodgers (you may recognize him as the hero of the Junkyard Build Quality Challenges, as well as the captain of the very fast Bunny With a Pancake On Its Head 24 Hours of LeMons Rabbit team) saw in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard last week and was kind enough to photograph for us.

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Crapwagon Outtake: The Subaru RX Coupe

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Subaru Leone 4WD Wagon

One thing that makes Colorado wrecking yards different from those in the rest of the country is the large numbers of Subarus in every yard. We’re talking the history of Subaru North America in every yard here. In fact, you’ll see more 1980s and 1990s Leones aka GLs, DLs, and Loyales in a typical Denver-area self-serve yard than you’ll see Corollas or Civics. You’ll also find lots of more recent Legacies and Imprezas, not to mention XTs, BRATs, SVXs, and even the occasional Justy 4WD. 1970s Subarus, however, are getting pretty rare here; in this series, we’ve seen just this ’79 Leone wagon and this ’79 GL sedan so far. Today, we add this very-much-of-its-time ’78 wagon.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Subaru BRAT, Sawzall Style

You could buy the Subaru BRAT in the United States until the 1987 model year (though removing the Chicken Tax-loophole jump seats— which made the BRAT a passenger car, legally speaking— meant that it got a lot more expensive in 1985). Thing is, Coloradans love BRATs, which means you can’t even find a total basket-case example for cheap here. What to do? Why, take a beater 4WD Leone aka GL hatchback and apply ingenuity!

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Subaru L Coupe

Subaru went through a lot of bewildering names for the early Leone in North America, and they’ve retained that tradition with their Legacy- and Impreza-based Outbacks in more recent years. Here in Colorado, I find astonishing quantities of 20+ year-old Subarus in wrecking yards. Most are four-wheel-drive machines, for obvious reasons, but every so often I run across an elderly front-wheel-drive Leone. Here’s a rare 2WD coupe version I spotted in Aurora a few weeks back.

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Junkyard Find: 1983 Honda Accord- No, Wait, Subaru GL Hatchback!

If you’re familiar with the story of kickbacks and dodgy dealings at American Honda in the 1970s and 1980s (yes, copies of Arrogance and Accords go for $150 a pop these days), you know that getting a new Accord was quite a challenge for American car buyers during the Late Malaise Era. You sure as hell weren’t going to get that shiny new Accord hatchback for anywhere near invoice, if you could find one at all… but hold on now, what’s that affordable, Japanese-built, gas-sipping front-wheel-drive hatchback at the dealership across the street, the car that looks so Accord-like? Surely it must be every bit as good as the Honda, yes?

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Junkyard Find: 1987 Subaru GL Wagon

You didn’t start seeing Subarus in large numbers in North America until the third-gen Leone showed up. Even so, most of these quarter-century-old veterans are gone now, even in regions they once dominated (e.g. New England, Colorado). I found this more-80s-than- Wang Chung example in a Denver self-service yard a few weeks back, and I had no choice but to document this soon-to-be-rare piece of Subaru history.

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  • MaintenanceCosts I was reading, bobbing my head along, thinking "$5000 and whatever it costs to throw in a 1.8 gasser and we have a winner," and then you have to harsh my mellow by sharing the seller's delusions of grandeur.
  • MaintenanceCosts They can't keep selling through the current hodgepodge mess of desperate or disreputable dealers. Somehow the sales model has to change. Whether they become the Don Quixote that tilts at the franchise-law windmill to sell direct, or they cut a deal to get into another OEM's dealer network, something has to change.They've always been able to engineer competitive cars when they want to, but they haven't had a reasonable way to sell them since the Chrysler tie-up ended.
  • Sgeffe There’s a guy on YouTube who owns several Oldsmobile Diesel-equipped vehicles, including an A-Body with the 4.3 V6. Might be the Chevy.IIRC, Adam Wade on the “Rare Classic Cars” channel stated that this engine was also available in 1985 only in the redesigned C-Bodies (98 Regency, Electra, DeVille/Fleetwood).
  • Tassos It's a GREAT value, but what, if any, profit will GM make from this vehicle? When it prices it at only $30k, while the much smaller and much CRAPPIER FIAT 500E goes for OVER $40k????
  • Tassos The consumers (not the "market") DO trust EVs, but those that are superior and well-priced,THey buy millions of TESLAS and very few copies of all the other dozens and dozens of LEGACY BEVs.Makes sense to me. None of these experienced makers have YET succeeded to design and build a better Tesla, that is ALSO PRICED COMPETITIVELY.