$3,700 OBO: 1979 Subaru 4WD Wagon

I don’t know what it is about the first-generation Subaru Leone wagon that brings out the artist in people. Maybe it’s because artists tend to gravitate towards them but it’s a rare online listing that just shows photos of a 1979 Subaru 4WD Wagon without most of them being heavily-filtered or otherwise set up like artwork. This cool wagon can be found here on Craigslist in the last place on earth where I would have expected to see it: Katy, Texas. I don’t think of Texas as a hotbed for vintage Subarus, other than maybe Austin, but I must be wrong. The seller is asking $3,700 or best offer for this 4WD wagon. Thanks to Pat L. for submitting this coolbaru!

As cool as these photos are, and a few of them look like vintage advertising pieces which is what the seller may have had in mind, it’s nice to just see some plain, boring photos showing everything inside and out so potential online buyers can assess the condition and make a decision whether to gamble on buying something sight unseen or not. That being said, the photo above is super cool, it looks like a Subaru brochure photo from ’78 or ’79. A lot of us have it in our heads to use our vintage cars as they were actually intended to be used, but most of us are worried about getting them dirty or muddy or driving them in the rain or, worse yet, the snow.

This is the only photo showing the rear of the car and other than a couple of missing panels in the rear cargo area, it doesn’t look too bad for a 40-year-old station wagon that has been used as a station wagon. The seller says that this is a barn find and that they are “the 3rd owner. First owner was from Denver and his distributor went out while on vacation in Dallas and it’s been in a garage since 1989 and finally saw the light of day in 2015 when the second owner purchased it and fixed her up and daily driven for a couple years. I snagged it from 3other lined up buyers and glad I made the 4hr trip, she did perfectly fine at 70mph back home and I’ve been daily driving her up until a few months ago.”

There are no photos showing the front seat area at all other than one showing the gauges, but you can see the back seats and the seat covers on the front and make your calculations accordingly. I recently found a fantastic upholstery shop and I’m now much less worried about interior work than I used to be. Matching the sweet 1970s plaid pattern may be a challenge, but somewhere there is a fabric that’ll work and nobody will be the wiser. This car, as with all old Subaru 4WDs, has a push-button 4WD system for engaging the rear wheels when it’s needed. I think that’s a great system but now with AWD vehicles getting 30+ mpg even though they weigh much more than this 2,200-pound Subaru wagon weighs, maybe it’s not needed anymore. The seller has it listed as a DL but I would have sworn that this was a GL because of the four headlights and fancy plaid interior.

This engine should be Subarus famous 1600, or a 1.6L boxer-four with just over 70 hp. It’s low enough that the designers and engineers had room to put the spare tire in the engine compartment. That’s always a good conversation-starter. The famous “third-eye” passing headlight would have come right after this car on the 1980-1982 models so that big center badge is just that, a badge. The AC works great, according to the seller, that’s fantastic and probably rare in a car of this vintage. Have any of you owned a first-gen Subaru 4WD wagon?

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Comments

  1. Brian Heffernan

    I was first person in NYS, to take delivery on the Subaru Ascent Touring Edition. I love it! Have driven it from New York to Florida, then from Florida to New Mexico and then back to Florida. Since you were talking about first generation station wagons, technically this is a first generation Ascent.

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  2. Jay

    Just what I need, a Subaru 20 years older than the one I currently own. No, but seriously, I want it. Too bad I’m nowhere near Texas.

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  3. That AMC Guy

    I had a ’78 Subaru decades ago, but a DL front-drive sedan. At least in ’78 the DL had plain vinyl seats with black carpeting and lower door cards, and had single headlights. The car was funky-looking, reliable as an anvil, and dog-slow. The dealer-installed AC took up most of the glovebox and turning it on was almost like hitting the brakes! Unfortunately in the rust belt the tinworm claimed these cars a long time ago.

  4. Gay Car Nut

    I’d prefer this any day over a Subaru Ascent, or anything currently offered by Subaru. I find today’s cars hideous to look at, and too damn complex to work with. Call me old-school, but I remember when you had to place a metal key into the tiny slot on the driver, or front passenger door, you got into the car, you place the key into another tiny slot, turn it, hopefully the engine starts.

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  5. 433jeff

    It must be an automatic if its push button 4wd? I love the later dual ranger, nothing like it in the snow. I would also much rather have the ability to be in 2wd in the blistering sun, i just cant wrap my head around awd in summer. This is a great rig im sure it gets great mileage. Being so light its a good canidate for a motor swap.I hear That AMC guy, the a/c could double as a jake brake

  6. Omar

    my gf of 10 years named this wagon “Mustard Car” when i rescued and revived it in 2015, and drove it till February of 2017 when i sold it to a guy from Houston, drove it 3 hours home from San Antonio.

    glad to see it still around… and on here now, was not expecting that.

    most dificult thing about reviving this wagon was those front brake calipers. No Parts Available.

    why did i sell this wagon for those wondering on here? was always tempted to remove parts from the 79 Wagon to my 79 Brat, or the other way around, plus i’ve moved on from Subaru’s,
    currently restoring a 68 Peugeot 404 and a 1970 AMC Gremlin.

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  7. Omar

    Manual 4WD 4speed. Gas mileage? around 26mpg at 45-50mph, anything higher and the gas mileage would drop, those RPM’s were well above 4,000 at 70mph, i would know, THIS was my Wagon from 2015-2018.

    it’s 4WD lever, not sure why Barn Finds posted this as pushbutton if that was only available in 1985 and up on third generation Subaru Leones.

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  8. Geoff

    Just put my 1993 Impreza L wagon to rest after 171K. A youngster compared to this one were. Everyone always thought it was AWD but the FWD never left me stuck in northern OH. Darn, they make good cars! Replaced with 2011 Outback and my wife has 2016 Impreza. Anxious to see how she likes her first winter with AWD *and*, a backup camera!

  9. Mark Kostelic

    Sorry, very ugly. Show me some Brats!

  10. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice one, Scotty! Now that’s how I remember a Subaru. They sold well in Northwestern PA for a while, but sadly rust converted them from shiny and new to a brown stain on your driveway in about 18 months, which became somewhat of a deterrent to repeat sales.

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