1986 Subaru GL 1.8 liter SOHC from North America


Cheap Reliable Transportation


I had to replace the radiator when I bought it.

Two years latter I had to put a used ECM in it at about 180,000 miles.

The rest was just maintenance.

I just took my last trip in it because the back struts have broken through the body.

General Comments:

I bought this car from a friends girlfriend for 100 dollars.

I got 3 years and 80,000 miles of pretty much trouble free use out of it.

The car has done everything I have wanted it too.

It was comfortable.

The instrumentation is easy to read.

It still runs like a top.

I am really sad to see it go.

But I have bought another one to replace it this time for 50 dollars.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th April, 2004

4th Oct 2004, 13:19

I looked a little more closely at the rear of this car. The springs are just weak and I now drive it in between 300-350 miles a week.

28th Jan 2005, 12:03

I have finaly replaced my sedan with a 87 subaru GL wagon that is 4wd. I sold my sedan for $300 and the woman who bought it just adores it.

1986 Subaru GL EA82 1.8 from Australia and New Zealand


Tough as nails


Original engine blew at about 300000km.

Replaced with imported EA82 engine which came with a Webber carby.

CV joints replaced.

Steering rack replaced.

Clutch replaced.

General Comments:

I only became aware of the legendary Suby reliability when I stalled in a creek and the car still started even though it was in water up to the windows.

The Webber carby gives a good performance boost and the car suprised me with how quick it was. (Top speed of about 190km/hr with some other minor modifications)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th October, 2003

28th Feb 2006, 22:25

I'm curious about what kind of modifications I could do on my 1986 Subaru GL Hatchback to overall improve its engine performance. Its got a 1.8 liter boxer motor. Does anyone have any answers? My e-mail is Garcia_later33@yahoo.com Thanks.


Boise, ID.

1986 Subaru GL S 4 cylinder opposed, 1.7 liter from North America


A sporty yet practical car


Frame was rotted. This is common for old Subaru models like this.

Exhaust was rotted, exhaust came out from under drivers door and tail pipe.

Rear right passengers door only opens from outside.

Gas pedal sticks.

During below freezing weather car will not start or will have trouble starting.

General Comments:

This car is very comfortable, the seats are heavily cushioned, but also appear sporty.

Good performance, pick-up was great, but handling was a little mushy.

A small, but roomy car was good in manuvering through traffic.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th February, 2003

1986 Subaru GL 4wd Wagon dual range 1.8 carborated from North America


A disappointing underpowered lemon


One engine.

Many CV Joints.

Many Wheel bearings.

Ball Joints.

Two radiators.

Heater Core (total nightmare to replace)

Complete exhaust system.

Timing belts.


Electric Choke.

Fuel pump.

Power Locks.

Stereo and two speakers.


Cigarette lighter.

Air conditioning system.

Heater control buttons on dashboard.


General Comments:

I bought this car because I previously owned a 1977 Subaru 4wd wagon which treated me very well, but alas was getting old and rusty.

The 1986 GL seemed nice at first, having dual range 4 wheel drive and being more modern.

I soon realized that this car had been built on a Friday afternoon, it is a total lemon.

I have replaced COUNTLESS CV Joints and wheel bearings. It is driving me crazy. I have had it done by different mechanics using different parts, it seems to make no difference.

The engine was replaced at 190,000 miles due to the amount of oil it was burning and a very loud valve ticking noise.

The car doesn't start well, it doesn't run well, it doesn't idle properly and it is underpowered. It is also disappointing for gas mileage.

So far I would estimate I have spent $7000 in the 5 years I have owned this car. I regret buying it and question if I will ever buy a Subaru again.

On the other hand, my wife's '86 Toyota Tercel 4wd wagon has given us years of wonderful trouble free driving (knock on wood) including long distance road trips through the mountains. It has more power, is better on gas, and I believe has a better 4wd system.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 17th October, 2002

27th Dec 2004, 01:36

Apart from the CV joints and bearings most of the problems you've had with this car are normal wear and tear.

It was 11 years old and had covered 125k when you bought it. It might have spent all that time roughing it around farm fields and never being serviced properly or cleaned.

7th May 2006, 13:18

This subaru is the best subaru I have ever owned. 300k and still trucking. sounds to me like all the parts you had to replace were from your driving style. slow down for bumps and slow around corners.

28th Apr 2008, 23:55

Don't EVEREVER(EVER EVER, EVER-EVER)!!! talk bad about a subaru!

19th Oct 2008, 15:24

I had a '86 GL 4WD wagon 5 speed stick; purchased new in 12/85; donated in 9/03 when my wife made me do it at 273K 'cause it didn't have airbags.

It lacked power. So going up hills, I simply used 3rd gear or second as long as the RPM's were within the acceptable range.

I always had it serviced by Subaru for the first 130K; then switched to a former Sub. mechanic. No problems for the first 120K; then the usual stuff -- CV boots; new clutch at 130K. Other problems encountered were: ignition module failure at 145K (Subaru said this was a problem related to the location of the igniter; catalytic converter at 196K; Several 1/2 axle failures. Even though it started burning oil (1 quart every 1K miles).

Subaru service and my independent mechanic, a former Subaru service guy, could not find anything wrong with the engine. So I kept it in spite of periodic problems as the vehicle aged, since none of the problems were that expensive to fix.

Whether I should have purchased a Tercel at that time? In hindsight I would say yes. A neighbor of mine got one the same time I bought my '86 GL, and his kids have been using it for the past 10 years. It recently hit 345K. Toyotas manufactured totally in Japan beat the pants off any Subaru or Toyota manufactured in the US. My '92 AWD Legacy L+ (purchased new) was a 500% improvement over the GL.

1986 Subaru GL Wagon from North America


Great bargain for $1400


The rear gate doesn't lock that easily.

The clutch is very stiff and doesn't shift that easily.

There is no radio.

General Comments:

I love my Subaru!

The cabin is roomy and I have hauling space.

The driver seat doesn't pull up far enough and is permanently reclined to a degree.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th January, 2002

1986 Subaru GL 1.8 from Norway


A small, reliable wagon, that takes you up the hills in the snow!


Nothing yet. Everything seems OK.

General Comments:

Still going strong after 15 years on snowy Norwegian roads.

Some rust, but the mechanics are good.

Everything works well. The car has few options. There's only power steering, power locks and a tilt steering wheel.

But here in Norway, the 1800 wagon came with a high roof. This really provides better "usefulness" for this small wagon.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st October, 2001

18th Dec 2001, 16:09

We got this car new in 1986 and live in hot, hot Texas. It has been the best little car. The original clutch was finally replaced at 120,000 miles. The distributer was replaced at about the same time. Due to local emissions testing, we replaced the muffler, oxygen sensor, and catalytic converter in 1995, although they were all in good working order.

The seats need re-upholstered and the dash is cracked, but after 16 years, four kids, and a dog, that is expected. We have also owned an '88 Justy DL and look forward to purchasing another Subaru in the future. I would have to agree that this is one great car.

5th Apr 2004, 14:31

The only problem I have seen with the GL is the block has been known to strip and will continue to strip even after repairs.

22nd Apr 2004, 14:38

My 1984 GL was purshased in 2001 with 110000 miles on it sadly there is a problem with the paint on the hood. It seems to have faded from grey to a silvery white. Just wondering if anyone else had had this problem.

25th Oct 2004, 13:41

My paint has cracked and faded.