The 1983 Subaru Turbo Traction Wagon Was Kind Of A Dinosaur, Slow, WRX…Or Not

The 1983 Subaru Turbo Traction Wagon Was Kind Of A Dinosaur, Slow, WRX…Or Not

Vaping jokes aside, we think that Subaru makes some pretty decent cars there days. The WRX and their other turbocharged sport offerings have enough guts to be fun, they have a large enthusiast community behind them, and we have hammered a few of them at the strip to the point of giddiness. Back in 1983 though, this was not a sporting brand in the traditional sense. They made a load of weird cars, weird for the time, and actually weird for this look back decades later. This Motor Week feature on the 1983 Subaru Turbo Traction wagon is a honest period look at a car that many people did not know what to make of but owners loved. We say that because a neighbor of ours growing up had one and the little tank-like Subie was loyal to them until it basically rusted in half.

With a turbocharged engine making scantly more than 90hp, 8-inches of ground clearance, “on demand” four wheel drive, and the styling creativity of the Berlin Wall, this was a car you found not a car that found you. They were sold in strong numbers in New England (still Subaru’s largest market in the USA) and for good reason. They dealt with the winters well, got better economy than a truck, and in 1983 people still were not buying trucks as luxuriant daily transportation.

One of the things that really took us back while watching this was seeing the interior footage. This car was about as comfortable as a Latvian prison to spend time in. The thing always got us to school, it sounded different than anything else on the road at that point, but it was brutally bad to ride in. Cramped and uncomfortable, a road trip in one of these would be considered child abuse if you have kids.

We love cars like this, though. It did its job, filled its niche, and eventually gave way to a Subaru that was far more widely seen, accepted, and loved in the mainstream. When’s the last time you actually saw one of these on the road?!


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4 thoughts on “The 1983 Subaru Turbo Traction Wagon Was Kind Of A Dinosaur, Slow, WRX…Or Not

  1. Brian Cooper

    My parents had a 1988 Subaru wagon that same silver. It was a 2wd with a stick. I remember loading 15 cases of beer into the back and driving it back to college. I held my foot flat on the floor for 2 hours and it did 65 mph with the a/c off. It was the most gutless understeering prison cell on tires I’ve encountered. It had all the luxury of a rock quarry and the performance of a drunk hippo on stilts. To this day my father will only drive a Subaru because of how much he loved that penalty box. My opinion of Subaru has not changed over time, no matter how many rattly pain machines he brings to me to work on.

    I hate Subaru. And it’s because of a car very similar to the one in this review.

  2. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    I was once offered one of these for free – the one gift I was more than happy to turn down….

  3. Randall Flagg

    They were quite popular here in the PCW as cheap and reliable fishing and hunting rigs. I\’ve seen them with winches, and even modest lift kits.

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