1987 Subaru XT Turbo

If you were to ask me, "Are there any Subaru classics?" I would respond with a resounding, "Yes!" And then I would ramble on and on about the XT.

The 80s were a pivotal time for Japanese automakers. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of World War II, the Japanese rebounded remarkably and excelled at making cars. But when it came time to infiltrate the American market, they had stiff competition from both Detroit and Europe.

One way to buck both was to offer cars that were well-made (which American cars weren't) and affordable (which German cars weren't). This way, they appealed to consumers best instincts: thrift, value and quality.

Subaru had already made an impression with their compact all-wheel drive sedans and wagons. To take on the compact sport coupe, they introduced the all-new XT in 1985. Like other Subaru, it was a simple, uncomplicated front-wheel layout with the option of all-wheel drive. But unlike Subaru's existing models, it wore a radical wedge-shaped body of laser-straight lines, blackened pillars and hidden headlights, looking like a Syd Mead-designed prop for the set of Blade Runner.

The futuristic vibes continued into the interior with an asymmetrical steering wheel, digital layout and stalks of vital buttons and controls housed in two pods flanking each side of the steering wheel for access within finger-reach.

The only initial complaints about the XT were lack of power, especially in the naturally aspirated 4-cylindr. Fortunately, this is the much more desirable turbocharged 4 mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. It put out just 115 horsepower, but with the stick shift, aerodynamic body and relatively light weight, could easily feel sufficient and nimble.

The seller says this survivor is rust free, and the paint shows just some oxidizing. Mechanically, they say it not only has a rebuilt engine but a suspension transplanted from an '03 WRX! Whoa! Not surpassingly they say it handles amazingly. Always nice to find older cars with sweet sleeper upgrades like this, and the seller isn't passing down the cost of the swap, either.

These are flying totally underneath the elite collector radar, despite Subaru restoring one for their museum recently and Gen-X car fans looking back on them with nostalgia. But to those in the know, these are a best kept secret, blending outrageous styling and fun, economical performance.

Available here on ebay for a $5,000 Buy It Now.


  1. The car in question ended up in the hands of yours truly after I spotted it in person in Austin, TX and made a cash deal on the spot. Unfortunately, due to the somewhat impulsive nature of my purchase, the real world sums and an unhappy significant other leave me selling the XT. Considering it's been on your site at least twice from what I can tell, who knows how many more times it will run the gauntlet before it reaches another proper long term owner. I hope whomever I sell it to will respect it for what it is.

    1. You're in Austin Tx and have this car for sale? Please inbox me at debralynnjohnson@yahoo.com w/the details. Thank you!

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