1986 Subaru GL Dual range 4x4 AC 1.8 carb EA82 from North America

Summary:

Built like a tank, cheap, and built to stay that way!

Faults:

Carb needed to be rebuilt at 207k.

Horn.

Radiator needed to be flushed, ran hot ever since I got it, but never overheated...

A/C doesn't work.

Car ticks (valve lash adjuster) is just Elmer's way of saying he loves me!

Right front axle is starting to go out.

General Comments:

I own a 1986 Subaru GL wagon 4x4 with dual range. It has over 210k miles, and I bought it last year for $300 from a guy off of Craigslist.

All manual options : steering, locks, windows, seat belts, yet was optioned with dual range, carburetor (as opposed to TBI), and it has A/C!

All I have had to do to it is (yet when I got it, it ran and drove perfectly):

1. Replaced fuel filter.

2. Replaced air filter.

3. Replaced distributor rotor and cap.

4. Replaced wires.

5. Oil change and Sea Foam.

6. Fixed horn.

7. Replaced headlights (old ones fogged and watered).

8. Bypassed the sensor for the electric radiator fan (never came on until it was rigged up to a switch and the battery).

9. Bumper (some jack money rigged up a hitch wrong, and yanked the bumper half off, so it was held on by bungee cord).

10. Soon it will need a routine brake job.

11. Wiper blade.

12. Low range 4wd indicator light.

13. Low fuel light/sending unit.

14. Car wash..

The car gets 25-30+ mpg, and can go anywhere. It gets me there and has NEVER let me down, even though it ticks like a Swiss watch.. Until the last 3 days.

It can keep up on the freeway, but passing can be exciting, given the 0-60 time is 15 seconds balls out, and pretty much on flat land. So crossing traffic requires finesse, timing and practice.

But the thing is I love my car. It has plenty of room, is extremely safe (I was at a wrecking yard, and 2 cars were stacked on a Subaru GL, and I could still open the doors and close them as if there wasn't 5 tons stacked on top of it!

Very unique, and it's one of the best cars ever made; if only it was a bit quicker.

I don't understand the people that think they need to spend over $3000-$5000 to get a decent car? And then the people that think 5 years is old, and 10 years old is an antique. The car is only as good as you treat it, that is if it was good in the first place...

Older cars have experience, and it's easier to do research and figure if they will be reliable or a never ending project from hell. You can't always know if a new car will be perfect, with recalls or glitches. Even with a Honda or my favorite manufacturer, Subaru, there are problems that can and will pop up, and would have already been replaced, fixed and done with, if it was an older model...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th December, 2011

18th Jan 2012, 11:43

I just bought a 1986 Subaru 4x4 Loyale, and love it! Yep, it needs work. I am wondering why I am only getting 21 mpg. The carburetor was just rebuilt. Any info to help me get more mpg?

15th Aug 2012, 21:33

I'm guessing it's an automatic? They lose 5 MPG over the manual transmission. Also, if you have to drive up a lot of hills, that will hurt your MPG. Try to keep it at 55 mph when driving on the highway. My 86 wagon with 5 speed manual, gets around 28 MPG.

31st Jul 2013, 15:22

Tune up, Seafoam.

But yeah, the auto gets 21 city, 24 highway according to fueleconomy.gov.

If I was you I'd sell it and find a Subaru with 5 gears.

If you can't drive stick, learn. If you don't want to learn, find a cheap Legacy or Loyale, and those 3 speeds don't last forever.

2nd Aug 2013, 01:41

These are very good cars. I used to have one. The drivetrain lasts forever, especially with the manual gearbox. The clutch takes some getting used to and is stiffer than other cars, but is very reliable nonetheless.

Handling was a bit scary at high speed when I got it. The stock tire size is not wide enough. Wider tires were installed, which much improved the handling.

If you love your Loyale or GL and it's in good shape, just watch for rust and get it undercoated if you are in the northeast.

Had to redo the floor sheet metal twice on mine; it seems to rust very quickly.

Eventually had to scrap the car because of that, but I'm sure the engine and transmission would still be running forever. Very good built 80's car.

1986 Subaru GL Wagon from North America

Summary:

Great cheap family car

Faults:

Transmission won't go shift into drive, but fixed with a little spray cleaner.

General Comments:

General transportation, not fancy, but not the cheapest.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th October, 2009