Before “Confidence in Motion” and “The Beauty of All-Wheel-Drive,” Subaru was marketed in the US as reliable and economical. But as today’s kidney car demonstrates, the automotive division of Fuji Heavy Industry was long a pro at making singularly awesome and rugged—and, to the initiated, attractive—all-terrain vehicles. Behold this beautiful 1981 Subaru GL 4WD Wagon.
The second generation Leone/GL is by now a classic and iconic Subaru. It continued many Subaru traditions established by its predecessor and brought other Subaru conventions to the mainstream, most notably four wheel drive. This generation also saw the introduction of turbocharging, another Subaru trademark. These Leones/GLs are thus an important linchpin in Subaru history.
This particular car is said to be in “like new” condition with a low and original ~63,000 miles. Being a 1981, it is powered by the 1.8L EA81 flat-4; the turbo wouldn’t arrive for another two years. The engine has new head gaskets, and the car is delightfully equipped with the four-speed manual transmission along with the dual-range 4WD system.
The body has been resprayed in what is presumably the original light brown color, with the emblems and badges seemingly preserved and reapplied. The interior looks to be in great shape (described as “nearly perfect”), and the plaid seat inserts alone are simply irresistible. It may lack the cyclops passing lamp, but the car does appear to be a beautiful specimen.
Subarus of this vintage are bona fide JNCs. Yet while one prime example graced this year’s Touge California, they are still underrepresented in the classic scene. That is a shame, as these old Subies are innovative and full of unique character, not to mention historically significant. Tempted? This car is in Grass Valley, California right now with an asking price of $6,300, waiting to be loved by its next owner.