subaru gl wagon for sale

For Sale: This Subaru GL wagon is eager for off-road action

Yesterday we shared a video showing off a glorious BMW wagon that was ready for the dirt. Today, you can buy a cheaper, slower yet still fun version of that same idea. This 1988 Subaru GL is for sale on my local Craigslist. And it’s prepped for battle. Here’s the text of the ad, in case it goes away:

Up for sale is my 1988 Subaru GL that I’ve turned into a solid off-road vehicle. In the last year it’s had a massive amount of work done to make it capable of driving through the desert and on all manner of trails. This is a unique car for a unique buyer, but if you’re coming across this listing you probably know that already.

Pros: big tires, 2” lift, dual range 4wd, super rad boxy 80s wagon that gets a lot of attention, extremely practical, you won’t see another one like it on the road

Cons: beat up interior, underpowered (and frankly, pretty tired) old engine, needs constant maintenance as it’s an old car being used to tackle mountain and desert trails, rust on the underside that’s repairable but fairly extensive

ADF 2” lift including 1.5” subframe drop
Peugeot 14” alloy wheels
27×8.5 r14 General Grabber ATX tires

I’ve repaired a bunch of stuff on this vehicle (I can post the full list later) but at the moment a few mechanical issues are still present. Needs a front passenger side CV axle, inner and outer tie rods and dust boots, and it burns a lot of oil. If I kept the vehicle I’d probably swap it to the newer and more powerful EJ22 engine. Information and adapter plates are available online.

Check out more pics of the car on Instagram @will.sharpe

The price seems good despite the amount of work needed. Especially since every used car is rocketing to the moon in value. And this is a chance to own and drive something far more unique than any other vehicle you’re likely to come across on the trail. It’s also just as capable thanks to the lift and wheel and tire setup.

Hop in, have fun, and if shit breaks, you’re not going to be out that much dough. This is a great wagon that looks up for an adventure. Check it out here: https://orangecounty.craigslist.org/cto/d/lake-forest-1988-subaru-gl-4wd-dual/7347780315.html

9 Comments

  1. This is the car that kicked off my initial interest in Subaru. An AWD station wagon with (correct me if I’m wrong) a low range transfer case. What put me off was the high initial asking price for a decent second-hand one, and according to friends who owned them, a hefty overhead for maintenance and repairs. This was to b e my first car, so I gave it a pass and got an ’83 Corona station wagon (not the Starfire!) which I loved.

    20 years later I got an Outback thinking I was fulfilling my dream of an AWD Subaru wagon, and learned why we should never meet our idols. It was under-powered, over-geared, had a ridiculously low towball weight (91kg!?!?) and the engine block leaked oil. Not from a gasket, there was a porous section in the actual block behind the timing belt that leaked oil.

    I’m pretty sure ours was a lemon, but I still can’t look at them the same way. Mine saw itself out in a fire caused by the leaking oil pooling and overheating in the plastic underbody protector.

  2. It’s interesting that Peugeot and Subaru used the same wheel bolt pattern, and apparently nobody else.

  3. Given the needs, $3,500 seems a bit high to me. I guess it depends on how much “a lot of oil” usage is. Also, given the wheels and tires, I imagine braking performance is poor approaching scary, so an upgrade is needed there too.

    1. I had an ’87 wagon like this; I bought it cheap ($700, in ’07, IIRC) in a hurry from a co-worker, after wrecking my beloved 1st gen Tacoma. It had ~300K, and while it ran OK, it leaked/burned about a quart of oil per tank. I didn’t think I’d ever own a vehicle slower than my very tired ’71 VW bus, but that GL made the bus feel spritely. I can’t imagine how much worse it would have performed with this setup.

      1. Funny, I had one too, back in the late 90s. Mine was FWD only and free, a woman at church was about to junk it because it was old and kept overheating. I offered her the junkyard price and she said I could have it. I put a gallon of water in it and it ran fine, it just needed coolant often. I used it to deliver newspapers to keep the wear off my “good car”, a base 1993 Escort LX.

        Drove it for about a year, put a timing belt on it and a bunch of coolant and that was it. I donated it to a charity auction site and took a modest tax deduction.

        1. For as much of a worn-out POS that GL was, I kind of enjoyed driving it, certainly more than the ’02 Outback I picked up about 10 years later.

  4. What is the minimum price these days for: “ Look Buddy – it’s a car that runs. This is as cheap as you can get for something that passes inspection.”?

  5. A friend of mine once bought a GL wagon for $500 in the mid 1990’s. We jumped it, thrashed it on trails and at one point floated it across a flooded stream/trail. Kept the revs high and every time it bobbed and sank the spinning wheels would propel it forward a bit. That car was a trooper. He drove it for 10k miles and then sold it for…$500

  6. That’s exactly what I am talking about… the rock-bottom price for a POS car that’s actually drivable used to be $500, but that was a long time ago. What is the “New $500” given Covid, and inflation? Is it $3500? On raw inflation alone $500 in 1990 is now $1066. How much of that $3500 is “any car” and how much is the “But it’s a SUBARU!” Premium?

    https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

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