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Should my friend daily drive a 1986 Subaru


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Greetings, I have a friend who's making payments to purchase a 1986 Subaru GL. I don't know how much they are paying for it, but likely not terribly much. It seems to be a car from an impound lot.

Anyways, they're buying it because they see it as a fast, Japanese styled car, and could be drifted- which is absolutely not what that car was designed for, and would require substantial redesign of the suspension, different engine/drive train etc, which it appears they're not going to for a very long time if at all. They plan on daily driving it basically immediately, and do not appear to have a backup vehicle. Their current is about 15 years old and falling apart aggressively.


Anyways, it has the 1.8L EA82 engine, carbureted, and the vehicle is 4WD. It allegedly has about 100,000 miles on it.


Anyways I've expressed concerns with how much money and work it's going to take to daily drive it, let alone make it reliable. They seem to think due to it being Japanese, it's the equivalent of Toyota quality, and disregarding my concerns with the age of the vehicle as "it's just like any other car" Yeah, but good luck finding fitting parts that aren't rotting from age. They don't seem to comprehend that even with them doing much of the work, just how much the parts are going to cost combined.


I personally daily drive a 1984 Chrylser, and it's taken many years, lots of being parked, and tons of money to get to this point; and it still has problems, and that's just due to its age.


Anyways, could you guys please share your thoughts on a 1986 Subaru GL;

Experience on the 1.8L EA82 engine, Subaru 4WD technology from the mid 1980s, and the automatic transmission it has? How do these cars age? What issues do the engines, trans, etc typically have/what miles/age?


Thank you for your help, I'm unfamiliar with this vehicle's platform, but aware that Subaru in the 1980s was similar to Mitsubishi quality, if not Subaru being slightly better, which wasn't amazing - and regardless, 30+ years old is VERY old for a car.

2 Answers

May I never would have mess with that old thing. Those old Subarus that had gasket problems. Maybe it's a toy but certainly not an everyday driver

I really appreciate you Scotty!


If he insists on an old Subaru he would have been better off with one a little older that had the pushrod boxer engine. Those were bulletproof though low on power output. (I owned a late 1970s version ages ago.) Subaru's early overhead-cam jobs made more power but didn't hold up nearly as well.

As far as the 4-wheel-drive system I'm pretty sure that in 1986 Subaru was still using a part-time 4WD setup on most of their cars that could not be used on dry pavement, and that was optional - most were just front drive. (Cars that had full-time AWD back then would have been the AMC Eagle and Audi Quattro.)

The idea of using anything of that vintage for a daily driver is a really bad idea for most people and making payments on that thing is nuts.

As far as the idea of using a 1980s Subaru GL as a drift car...

haha, I love your video link!

I appreciate your input, and agree 100%. I entirely expect the engine to be problematic and not be designed flawlessly, and god forbid we find out the transmission isn't much better. I may recommend they just buy and old 90s or early 2000s corolla and do an engine/drive train swap, weld on our own motor mounts etc.