The other day we had a COAL on a Forester with lots of issues. Since about 2000 or so, when the head gasket issue started, Subaru quality has become iffy, or at least inconsistent. But that didn’t use to be the case; back in the 20th century, Subarus generally had a stellar reputation, and there’s still a few from those good old days around to prove it, like this DL wagon.
It’s a FWD version, so maybe going all AWD was cause? Not likely…
It’s sitting in front of an old house that’s not yet been gentrified, am increasingly uncommon thing hereabouts. This shot might as well have been taken twenty years ago, where it not for the SUV in front of it.
A little worse for wear, but it’s still running. Eugene was a hot bed of early Subaru adopters, going back to the early ’70s.
It’s still ready, willing and able.
That looks like a Loyale. I mentioned my aunt’s front drive 87 Loyale, and it’s failed right head gasket, at less than 100k, in the Forester thread. What I did not mention in that other thread was the rust. Yes, it was in Michigan for 11 years, but, by 98, it was rusted far worse than my 85 Mazda.
This CR dot chart shows about the same thing as their dot charts show for Subes today: the senior series Legacy/Outback, look decent. The junior series Loyale, looks much like the Impreza/Forester of 20 years later.
Gotta love the mask on the seat…one wonders if it’s to filter out the nasties floating around that interior?
These were good solid cars. I remember them well. I guess there was simply not enough of a market for solid simple cars. There were many players pumping out similar looking simple machines during these years and Subaru got lost in it.
The first generation Subarus here in the States were odd looking things with lots of unique attributes. This generation showed that Subaru could make a solid car too. Yet it did not find success when they made these. They rusted fast – like all Subarus did for decades. That was pretty frustrating for me.
I look back at these Subarus and I see a great car – but one that would have ended their business in the States. They had to sell out and go with those puppies, flowers, and endangered species to find their stride. Nothing seems to sell to Boomers quite like claiming that sinking $30 Grand or more on new vehicles is the best way to demonstrate to strangers that you care about the environment and are more moral than everyone else – you saved a puppy! LOL.
Subaru got your AARP ride!
Wonder if this one has that weird “Powered by Singer (sewing machine sound)”. You could always tell when one was approaching down a street; as distinctive a sound as Harley has.
These have all but disappeared from the Mid-Atlantic area, likely due to rust. The only one I’ve seen in recent memory was an ’88 GL wagon last year in Colorado:
Subarus are quite popular here in Charlottesville Virginia. It seems if you ignore pickup trucks, the most commonly seen cars and SUVs in no particular order are toyota, honda, Subaru, Hyundai, Kia, and Tesla.
These old Subarus were really good cars most of the ones I had any contact with were 4WD that was their main selling point, this body style ran well into the 90s in OZ alongside the Legacy/Liberty model.
I had a first gen Legacy 1.8 carby auto wagon once the carb was sorted out it was reliable despite having 340+k on the odometer cracking radiator tanks were its only vice the later strengthened tank type dont fit,
I owned the successor, a first generation Impreza. It was a 98 Outback Sport that had the 2.2 engine and a 5-speed. It was remarkably reliable with only regular maintenance work for the first 10 years. It was unfortunately hit by falling trees twice in its early years, but the second time was before we got the first one fixed, so two for the price of one. No major structural damage, but poor bodywork resulted in bad rusting around the windshield 10 years later. Overall it was a wonderful car and I kept it for 18 years.
It is my personal opinion that back in 1980s Japanese automakers have a lot of advantage over competitors from Europe and US. The superior reliability and quality are engineering design, efficient manufacturing, good labor management and low exchange rate. But this all changed after Plaza Accord, and bubble burst in Japan.
About Subaru, I did own a1997 Legacy Outback for one year, I found its built quality couldn’t match the Honda products. While it is not a bad vehicle, it could be better. But Subaru is auto industry successful story in last 20 decades
My college roommate, in 1972 at SDSU, drove a mustard colored Subaru. I recall when I first saw his car I went what the hell is that? Subaru he says. Never heard of it. Buzzy little car with a stick. Datsun 510 had it beat by a mile.
Still a few of those burbling around my neighborhood.
That house would be especially comfy in summer with the HIGH ceiling and wide overhang. The new roof indicates that it’s being cared for if not updated.
These Subies solidified a reputation for being very reliable transportation here in the Midwest. They were also sold with right hand drive for rural mail carriers. That along with all wheel drive a fuel efficient engine and good cargo space made them very desirable for that occupation. It was a bit unnerving the one time I rode as a front passenger but the driver assured me that everyone got used to it after a few drives.
This generation was the last of the fast-rusting Subarus. The powertrain would just keep running and you could keep driving them as long as there was still a place to hold on while you were doing it.