Aston Martin, Reviews, Saab, Sedan, Subaru
Jan29

Junkyard Find: 1978 Subaru DL Sedan

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1978 Subaru DL in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLiving in Colorado, I see so many discarded Subarus during my junkyard explorations that it takes a very unusual one to make me reach for my camera. An SVX might do it (though not always), or maybe a BRAT (again, not always), or perhaps a Subaru with Saab badges. A really early Subaru, from the Malaise Era days when few Americans took the brand seriously — I think that’s always worth shooting.

Here’s a first-generation Leone that I had to go all the way to Northern California to find.

1978 Subaru DL in California wrecking yard, door badge - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn 1978, the Subaru Leone was known as just “The Subaru” in the American market, with the different trim levels used for model names. This one is a front-wheel-drive DL sedan, located in the middle of the Subaru price range that year.

1978 Subaru DL in California wrecking yard, engine - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsPower came from a 1.6-liter boxer four, rated at 67 horsepower. Yes, that’s an air-conditioning compressor, and it probably felt like opening a big parachute behind the car when the AC kicked in.

1978 Subaru DL in California wrecking yard, gearshift - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn addition to air conditioning (which must have been an extremely rare option for ’78 Subarus), this car has the luxurious automatic transmission. Acceleration must have been… stately.

It appears that the original owner of this car bought it at a dealership in a Grand Rapids suburb, risking vandalism from enraged autoworkers and rust so voracious that many Japanese cars simply evaporated overnight.

1978 Subaru DL in California wrecking yard, rust - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis car shows plenty of damage from the Rust Monster, but it’s the top-down kind you get in California, not the bottom-up sort that happens in the Upper Midwest. This car moved west early in life.

1978 Subaru DL in California wrecking yard, seat upholstery - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWhat’s left of the interior looks decent, so maybe some owner of an early BRAT will grab a few bits.


Even The Cadillacs loved the ’78 Subaru.

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