FEATURED BUILD: Nico’s 1986 Subaru GL-10

Here at Japanese Nostalgic Car we have a new series called Featured Builds where we take a minute and look at some of the best builds we have seen on the JNC Forums and around the web. Our first feature comes from the JNC Subaru Garage, where member Nico has built what could be one of the most impressive 80s Subarus we’ve seen. 

Nico’s 1986 Subaru GL-10 started life as a surprisingly clean but completely stock sedan with a staggeringly low 17,398 miles on the clock. The GL-10, chassis code EA82, was a typical avant-garde Subaru vehicle with frameless door windows, a turbocharger and a completely ludicrous 4×140 lug pattern.

In America, the GL-10 trim level came with push button 4WD but it was an option on the Canadian cars, an option which Nico did not have. No matter, however, as Nico also sourced a 1986 XT6 parts car, which came standard with full-time AWD and a more reasonable 5×100 lug pattern.

Of course you can’t exactly have AWD madness with 100 horsepower at the crankshaft on tap. To remedy this, Nico turned to a slightly bigger engine called an EJ22T, the closed deck holy grail of EJ engines. Stopping here would of been a perfectly respectable place and would of been more than enough, fun-wise, but Nico wanted more.

He picked up some STI Version 8 Type RA heads and ARP studs. After piecing the mill together, he extensively went through the engine bay and performed all of the associated supporting mods before dropping it in. This put Nico in the realm of 350 horses the last time a dyno graph was posted, but you can rest assured that it’s north of that by now too.

While turbo swapping other platforms such as the Impreza or the Legacy is rather simple due to the availability of OEM hood vents for the top mounted intercooler, the EA82 had an under-hood spare tire where it would sit. Owners to have to get creative for their intake cooling needs, the most common solution is to just graft a scoop from a legacy on and call it a day.

Unfortunately, the 90s era curvy scoops look more than a little out of place on a car comprised of flat edges and 90 degree angles. Nico’s solution was to mock up an air-to-water intercooler and integrated blow off valve. This worked for a little bit but with more power comes the need for more cooling so Nico had to devise a solution in way of a smaller, thicker intercooler with a hole cut through the front bumper for it.

As far as suspension components go, it would have been easy for Nico to just slap the parts from the XT6 onto the GL-10 chassis and call it a day, since it all bolts together. Nico wanted a higher level of quality, though, so he stripped and powder-coated all the suspension components, leaving them looking better than they did when they left Gunma Prefecture. Some HSD coilovers held ride height steady and a set of four-wheel disc brakes off a WRX provided stopping power. As far as wheels go, it’s been a revolving door for Nico, in the picture above he can be seen with his Enkei ES-Tarmac wheels.

On the inside, Nico made improvements for both safety and usability. A Nardi steering wheel and Momo racing seat reside in the cabin. Since Nico would have had to extensively modify the gauge cluster to make all of the vitals work, it made more sense to simplify everything with a Racepak monitor.

Naturally, with a car that is still under the mileage limit of its factory warranty, the bodywork was pristine as you’d expect. Nico kept the exterior close to stock, adding only some AUDM/JDM 3D corner lights and modifying the front bumper for the intercooler.

The fun times came to a screeching halt one day when he was introduced to the business end of a highway barrier. Admirably, Nico didn’t toss the car in the bin. Upon getting it home, he assessed the damage and saw what he needed to do. The hood, fender, radiator support, bumper, bumper support, grille and driver’s side headlight assembly were toast.

Nico pulled he front end off  and while he was replacing pieces, he took a moment to improve one of the biggest aggravations for EA82 owners, the radiator support. The issue with these cars is when removing the engine, you have to contort the engine without catching the fan clutch on the radiator support or punching a hole through your radiator.

Nico modified the radiator support to be bolted on instead of welding it in. This makes the constant tinkering on the engine and transmission much easier by just being able to unbolt the entire front end of the car. The shrewd observer will also notice the Koyorad radiator meant for a BRZ application, and with some minor modifications he was able to get it to bolt into the the EA82 chassis.

Nico’s Subaru GL-10 is a revolving door of parts. We would list more, but by the time you read this he may be onto something else. You can view his build thread on in  JNC Forums here to keep up with his progress. Hopefully, this will give you, dear reader, some inspiration to get in the garage and finish up whatever you’ve been working on.

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14 Responses to FEATURED BUILD: Nico’s 1986 Subaru GL-10

  1. Keith Measures said:

    Totally rad car! Big fan of hopped up Loyales. Almost bought a Loyale RX coupe a little while back, part of me wishes I did. Could have been super cool for sure

    Two things though. I dont think i have ever seen a Subaru XT with 5×100. I thought they came with 4×140 as well? Also the XT6s came standard with front drive if im not mistaken, some came with push button and even less came with full time. Not trying to be a know it at all, Im just genuinely curious

    …Subaru experts feel free to correct me

    • Actually the Subaru XT6 was the first Subaru with a 5×100 lug pattern. They are relatively more rare than the vanilla XT and actually were also the first Subaru’s with modern full time all wheel drive, rather than the old push button style.

      I personally own a GL10 Wagon actually.

  2. Brett said:

    Very cool.

  3. NIgel said:

    Awesome car !

  4. Scotty G said:

    After all of those great photos, seeing the crash pic was quite a shock, I hadn’t seen that on the Subaru forum before. What an unbelievable car, even with half that hp it would be fantastic.

  5. Punto8 said:

    I like it! Great job!!!

  6. amar said:

    I wonder if there is any loss of structural rigidity by going to a bolt on radiator support? I suppose that if the bolts are placed correctly, they should account for any “torsion” in this area? Need to find some books about structural chassis fabrication….

  7. Randy said:

    VERY nice! I like that it looks like something the factory would (SHOULD!) have done. I haven’t seen ANY of that generation in, I’d say, at LEAST a decade. Here in the salt belt, the bodies usually fell off in short order.

    • nlpnt said:

      Even when they were new the wagons seemed to outsell sedans by a fair margin.

      • It’s still the same today. When they released the new impreza 4 wagons were preordered for every sedan and when I was selling I would move probably 10 outback for every legacy.

        • Randy said:

          I remember looking at the first year Legacies. Sedans didn’t have enough headroom “outback,” if you will. I’d probably have gone wagon also. One more inch of rear HR would’ve made a big difference. That’s a problem I find in just about ALL cars though, and I’m not even 6′ tall… I think the 2nd-gen was even shorter back there.

  8. Dimitry said:

    Have been following him on instagram for a while now. Always was a fan of Loyales or Leone DL (most of the time simply called DL) as it was known in the country I first saw it in. Amazing car!

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