Subaru GL Achieves Higher Consciousness with Third Eye Passing Light

1980 subaru gl brochure

A few months ago we embarked on a dusty pilgrimage to an Inland Empire junkyard. We were in search of a motor mount for a 1986 Toyota Cressida, but accidentally found enlightenment instead.

After trudging through the umpteenth corridor of sun-baked Camry skeletons, we caught a glint of chrome bumper. It was attached to a Subaru GL. Most items of value had already been plundered by earlier treasure hunters, but we were drawn to an emblem depicting the constellation Pleiades.

subaru gl passing lamp

With a light a tug the creaky door swung open, revealing the elusive Third Eye. Hindus and Buddhists call it a symbol of enlightenment. Occultists call it a doorway to the inner worlds and higher consciousness. Subaru calls it a Passing Light.

It was a rare option on early GLs and BRATs, from 1980-83 (though we’re not a hundred percent on the dates), and is sadly practically extinct in modern times. Under normal circumstances it’d be camouflaged by the grille. We thought about taking it but opted not to disturb its weary cyclopean gaze. Perhaps a true Subaru owner has since plucked it, so to speak.

subaru gl passing light

[Images: VW Vortex, me, Cardomain]

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13 Responses to Subaru GL Achieves Higher Consciousness with Third Eye Passing Light

  1. tunernutcase says:

    In my short time with a 1982 “Harvest Beige” Subaru Brat 4WD GL, I’d say the third eye was one of the coolest features of the car! Or maybe I liked those rear bucket seats more…anyways, BRATs are wicked fun! =]

  2. bert says:

    Do you know how many old Subarus I’ve seen and dealt with in my 28 years? And yet I have never seen that! I would have to say they stole the Idea from Tucker!

  3. Alan says:

    And Tucker stole that, along with most of his other ideas from Tatra – just like Porsche.

    I’ll take a deep blue with the 1600/4-speed, please.

  4. Ben says:

    Alan: I like Walnut Brown Metallic myself. It’s kind of a large color palette for a Japanese car of that age, isn’t it? Although they do have 3 hues of tan…

    Now I do kind of regret not taking it. I could have made a cool reading lamp out of it or something.

  5. Alan says:


    “3 hues of tan” trailblazing the way for the Camry…

    Fit the lamp and cover in a large fender-mirror looking device mounted on a swivel arm base – that would have been epic.

  6. Ben says:

    Alan: Brilliant idea! I doubt I’ll ever see another one…

  7. coupeZ600 says:

    If you’ve ever noticed Truckers flashing their lights at each other while passing, here’s the deal:

    When overtaking another Truck, they’ll give you the sign that it’s O.K. to get back in the lane by turning their head-lamps off for a second. That means that some ass-hat in a hurry hasn’t ducked in and is trying to pass on the right. The flashing tail-lights are a “Thank-You”.

    Doing this in a car when being over-taken is a great way to let the Driver know you’ve got a clue, and they’ll probably let you draft all night.

    Flashing your brights on the other hand only pisses them off, and is not recommended….

  8. madfaber says:

    I would like to nominate this artical for a pulitzer, i laffed my but off reading about this epic quest!! i think iam going to adapt it into a screen play

  9. Bob says:

    And Dodge had it in ’69-’70 fullsize Polaras and Monacos, offset to one side so as not to shine light into oncoming traffic. A quartz-iodine light called the \Super-lite\. They’re pretty sweet, IMO. Never knew about the Subaru one, I love it.

  10. Bob says:

    Here’s another cool link on the Super-Lite, an old Sylvania ad-

  11. MikeRL411 says:

    As Bert said, the Tucker Torpedo was probably the inspiration. In the late 40s and early 50s we would add a third high beam in place of the grill center \bullet\ on 49 Fords and 51 Studebakers.

  12. Sarcasmo says:

    What? No, black Subarus on that color pallet? I remember, my cousin had a black GL coupe… hmmmmm, maybe they offered that color thru 82-84.

    Yeah, I like the part about… ” the cyclopean gaze”. 🙂

  13. Cary Driscoll says:

    I specialized in Subaru as a family used car business in Long Island, N.Y. in the early 80’s. I can speak with great authority about the differences from one model year to the next.
    As far as the passing lamp is concerned; it was standard equipment on all 1980 GL model 4×4 wagon & hatchback models. The only model year Brat that came with the lamp was in 1982. No Subarus had this feature after the 1982 model year.
    Cary Driscoll / formally Roadrunner Auto Sales
    610 Sunrise Hwy
    Baldwin, N.Y. 11510

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