1985 Subaru XT

I love the XT! This was one of the most progressive Japanese cars of the past 30 years. Collectors have taken notice too, especially after Subaru restored one for their museum. Fortunately, they remain  on the low, and can be had for dirt cheap.

It debuted in 1984 as Subaru's bold entry into the increasingly hot entry-level two seater market. The styling continues to mystify me with its sharp angles, lines, creases, and wedge shape that tapers both horizontally and vertically, like some sort of retro future escape pod from a larger pyramidal spaceship.

It was one of those weird times when limited technology resulted in features like pop-up headlights that actually enhanced a vehicles overall design, as it does rather bizarrely but nonetheless successfully with the XT. The front bumper mold below the lights transitions into a belt line that wraps all the way around the car and then segues into the thin taillights strip. It's consistent, harmonious, striking and uniform.

The quirk factor is pushed off the charts with an archaic luggage rack mounted to the trunk lid, really emphasizing the mod-primordial aura about the whole thing.

Inside is equally intriguing. Supposedly Subaru was inspired by jet fighter cockpits. They wouldn't be the first automaker, but it resulted in an asymmetrical steering wheel, instrument cluster that adjusted with the steering wheel, stalk-pods that housed vital switches and buttons, and a joystick-like shifter that looks straight out of Top Gun arcade console. The blue cloth is a classic contrast with white exterior paint and has held up well.

Early XT were slightly underpowered, with either a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder or turbocharged version. Even with the turbo it put out a paltry 112 horsepower. You can bet both were good on gas, though. This is one such version, and it also lacks Subaru's trademark all-wheel drive.

A 6-cylinder XT6 came along in 1988 and rectified most issues. Then, it was superseded by the SVX, which, while perhaps equally stylish, was larger, heavier and altogether different.

Given the polarizing looks and relatively fun to drive nature, most of these were trashed and then sold for scrap at the local metal yard. Although this is a base model, it's in clean and good condition enough to look at. There really wasn't and still isn't anything else quite like it.

Available here on ebay.

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