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Dealer Trade: 1983 Subaru GL1600


Old Subarus tend to be hard to find in road-going condition, largely due to their popularity in climates where road salt is a way of life and their reputation for being tough little workhorses that can stay outside in all kinds of weather. Well, this 1983 Subaru GL1600 here on eBay escaped that fate and is for sale at a Subaru dealer in California after being traded in.


For me, I just love the idea of an older vehicle like this being driven up the showroom as collateral for a new model. It’s like the owner didn’t get the memo that everyone in America simply dumps their old cars on the nearest street corner or shady used car lot. If it’s in nice shape like this example, chances are a dealer would love to plant this car in their showroom simply for the eyeball appeal.


The manual transmission is a pleasant surprise, along with a seemingly unmarked interior. I’m interested to know if those seat covers are protecting perfect seats underneath. This Subaru GL is actually a 2WD model, which is likely what kept it in good shape – no temptation to go out and play in rough weather. The California location likely helped as well.


With just a tick over 100,000 miles, this economy hatch has been used sparingly. I’ll bet it comes with a big stack of maintenance records, too, since it sounds like the selling dealer also maintained it. This is a nice addition to any Japanese car collector’s stable as an example of a preserved “cheap” car that isn’t seen in this kind of condition very often. No bids have been lodged yet and the reserve is unmet.


  1. Avatar photo Nessy

    I get a kick out of sellers claiming low miles by saying, “Only 107000 miles” That may be low for an 83 model but it’s still over 100k which is hardly low miles. When I saw the round headlights, I knew this is the base DL model. That interior is also too basic to be a GL. I believe the GL models had power windows and alloy wheels by 1983. I think the GL also had a badge on the rear hatch saying it’s the GL. All Subaru models had square headlights by 83 except for the base model like this car. Either way, it’s a pretty neat little car.

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    • Avatar photo Scotty G

      I’m shocked and very pleasantly surprised that someone here knows so much about Subarus! Well done, Nessy! I assumed that I was the only one here who liked these wacky Japanese cars.

      This is the third time around for this car on eBay. I’ve bid on it before but not being a 4WD model I haven’t gone after it too aggressively. It can’t seem to get past the $2,000 mark which is ridiculously low for a car in this great condition, 100,000 miles or not.

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    • Avatar photo Brakeservo

      Most cars now are so well built that 100,000 miles really isn’t much at all, so yeah, on a 30+ year old car it does count as low miles. My 18 year old Toyota Tacoma clicked over 430,000 miles on the highway yesterday. Neither the automatic transmission nor the rear brakes have had any attention yet, everything still works great, last Tuesday I did 750 miles at 80 mph, so I think this Subaru is a low miles find.

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  2. Avatar photo grant

    Even 2 wheel drive subies are decent in the snow, with the right tires. These things are great.

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  3. Avatar photo jim s

    they will run for a long time, but they do rust, and they are slow. the dealer should fix the turn signal issue and post pictures with seat covers off. also photos of underside and trunk floor. nice driver if the reserve is not to high. great find.

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  4. Avatar photo AMC STEVE

    What’s the appeal for this getting over 2g?
    $1500 tops

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    • Avatar photo Scotty G

      Uhhh.. that it’ll be worth $5,000 in 2-3 years? If you haven’t noticed, vintage Japanese cars are about the fastest rising market out there.

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      • Avatar photo Mike H.

        Fastest rising as compared to what? Air cooled Porsches? I agree with you a little bit on on this as I’ve been eyeing up some gorgeous vintage Japanese cars, but beyond the Mazda Cosmo and Toyota 2000 GT it will be surprising to see that level of appreciation on a base model early Malaise Era Subaru.

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      • Avatar photo The Walrus

        The problem with this car, is that regardless of its condition, it is not an aspirational vehicle. This car may be worth more dollars in the years to come, but that will only be because the value of those dollars continues to drop. Thus, its relative value will always be the about the same as it is today.

        For example, if this was a $2000 car in 1995 (which it likely was), to have the same relative value today it would have to be worth $3200 (based on actual cumulative inflation of 55%). Assuming this trend holds, the car will indeed be worth $5000 someday, but not in 2-3 years. More like 8-10. But it will get there. It’s just a bad way to think about this one. As with expenses (just oil changes and registration fees) you will eat into that $5000 and this will be a monetary loser.

        The reason I say this is, as I previously mentioned, this is not an aspirational vehicle. Collector cars that rise in value relative to inflation trigger an irrational or emotional response that causes their monetary value to increase outside of the expected rate. You’ll notice the ‘vintage Japanese cars’ that are gaining value are sporty models. They have sex appeal. Or they are trucks, which triggers a Macho response. Cars like this Subie elicit a practical emotional response. Granted, there are plenty of people turned on by practical things, unfortunately they tend to not be involved in the collection of impractical things, like old cars. Thus the market of those people who ‘have to have it’, which is what drives up prices in an irrational way, is limited and thus there will always be sufficient supply to meet the demand. At a practical price.

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  5. Avatar photo MountainMan

    Clean old Subie. Too bad its not the 4wd model, the 4wd manual trans version had a hi-lo transfer case. Im surprised it hasnt had bids over 2k yet, if the seller lets it go for somewhere in that price range somebody will get a good deal, Scotty is right…these are gaining in popularity and prices will only go upward. I found a silver 4wd one like this in almost as good shape for $1100 about 3 years ago, I drove in a winter storm to go get it so I wouldnt miss out. Drove it for a year, fixed a few minor things and sold it for $2500 the same day i posted it on CL (Asheville NC)

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  6. Avatar photo Nessy

    Walrus, you are right, to a point. A car like this will only be worth so much. However, many people had cars like this when new and to some of those folks, this is their chance to go back in time and remember their youth so they may not care about spending more than the car is really worth.

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  7. Avatar photo krash

    … I like these little standard basic-mobiles..unfortunately it is 3,000 miles away because I’d be there today….(just hate dealing with dealers though)

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  8. Avatar photo Kenny

    If it was a Brat, or a turbo.. Something that sold few and was unique.. It might be worth N of 2 grand. But not a basic or GL with 100k. $1500 seems reasonable if it’s really in nice shape. Beat to death you’d be lucky to have someone trade a 20 yr old mountain bike for it.

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