Inexpensive. And Built To Stay That Way. So read Subaru’s advertising tagline for all of the 1980’s and nowhere was the “Inexpensive” part more apropos than with their hatchback version of the second generation Leone (that wasn’t generally known as a Leone over here in the US). Two things really surprised me when I saw this car in the junkyard recently.
The first was that this has been a local car all its life, as evidenced by its Dellenbach Subaru dealer sticker. Dellenbach is still around, they also peddle Cadillac and Chevrolet in much fancier buildings on the same piece of land; until a couple of years ago, the Subaru part was tucked in a small corner of their lot (as was Suzuki but the less said about that, the better).
Even though there was a big remodel recently that resulted in a bit of an expansion, it’s still tucked in the same corner of the lot with a modernized building and an abysmally small parking and display area compared to the Chevrolet and Cadillac areas even though I would venture that Subaru is by far more profitable and drives more traffic than Cadillac does and probably more than anything but the Chevy trucks. There certainly seem to be more people looking at Subarus than Chevrolets whenever I drive by. Never mind the Cadillac funeral parlor…
But second and most surprising is that this is a front wheel drive model. Yes, some of our younger readers may not even know of a time when Subaru wasn’t all AWD, all the time, but it existed (well, I guess it does again what with that BRZ sports car joint venture with Toyota thing). I somehow mentally always flash back to “The Crying Game” when I crouch down to check the undercarriage in these situations…well, it’s really the opposite I guess but you know what I mean…
Yup, the pics don’t lie, this is missing what really makes a Subaru a Subaru. Not that you absolutely need AWD around here, decent tires and more importantly a little common sense will get you far as long as you don’t absolutely have to be on the road no matter the weather.
$4,989. That was the asking price from Subaru for the base Hatchback in 1984 which our subject surely represents. How basic is that? Actually it seems like some niceties are included. The rear side windows seem to have a pop-out mechanism. The bumpers are chromed steel. The…well, that’s probably it though…
That’s pretty much the same angle as the ad. This buyer sprang for (or the Finance Office sprung uponst him/her) a jaunty pinstripe and one of those rubber door ding protector strips.
Even though the rest of the Subaru lineup got rectangular headlights by 1982 (curiously enough in BOTH single large rectangles as well as dual small ones depending on trim level), the base Hatchback stuck with the round ones. I always thought it made these look kind of sad. Or sort of like an AMC Matador. Or maybe that’s the same thing.
The hatchback, introduced in 1979, actually continued pretty much like this all the way through 1989 (!) even though the rest of this generation bowed out after this 1984 model year and was replaced by the much squarer 3rd generation, eventually being renamed as the “Loyale” lineup. As a side note, none of these (2nd or 3rd generation) were ever badged as “Leone”, just no badge at all, then DL, GL, GL-10 (3rd gen), and Turbo.
That’s most likely the original Bridgestone spare tire back there, soaking up the heat from the little 1.6L horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine. As some or most of you know, for a while I had a 1982 (I think it was a 1982) wagon of this generation and while mine may have had the 1.8L instead, it certainly was always willing to give its all for me and I never demanded less than that. Under my tutelage I recall it turning over 200,000 miles so they can certainly be long-lived little beasts.
This one didn’t make it quite that far, calling it a day at the 188,196 mark. Boy, could there BE less instrumentation in a car? That’s as bare bones as it gets. Whatever keeps the price down, I suppose.
Still, that interior looks durable. Those seats aren’t ripped, and I’d venture any visible dirt is a newer addition, likely from its current resting place – this Subaru gave off a very strong vibe of being a cared for one-owner car. Frameless doors, rollup windows, a very thin wheel with minimal spokes, it all helped to keep the weight down to just over 2,000 pounds.
Hold on a minute! The buyer actually sprang for the dealer-installed air-conditioning which is surprising. I love the little plaque on the dash that reminds everyone that “Car is equipped for installation of optional A/C.” But the slider switch has definitely been swapped out for the A/C version, the dealers always seem to leave the little badge in place.
It’s also curious how the stereo ends up being installed so low on the console. It seems like there is room for a bangin’ system in there but why put this little one so low?
Still, notwithstanding the likely considerable upcharge for the A/C and pinstripes but then again not taking into account any possible discounts etc, driving this for 34 years for a base price of $4,989 ends up having cost the owner far less for the purchase itself over time than most any other car I can imagine still seeing around. Broken down as in the title, that’s just over $146 per YEAR, so about $12 per month. Inexpensive. And Built To Stay That Way Indeed.