At $8,997, Will This 1997 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon Leave a Lasting Impression?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

While not perfect, today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Legacy sure does have a lot going for it. That includes some pretty shiny paint, appreciably low miles, and a five speed manual. Could that all add up to a match for its nearly nine-grand price?

You know that phrase, “they just don’t make ‘em like they used to?” Well, in the case of yesterday’s 2000 Toyota Celica GT-S it’s specifically apt as they don’t make them like that anymore at all. That’s not for lack of desirability mind you. It’s just that most of the market has moved on to other categories *cough crossovers, cough* leaving sales for cars like the Celica to wither and die.


Not everybody wants to drive around jacked up and wallowing like a hippo, and it was because of that loyal cadre that the clean as a bean GT-S struck a happy chord with many of us. It’s $5,3000 asking price struck another, and in the end we were all humming a happy 78 percent Nice Price win tune.

It’s kind of sad to think of all the car categories that today go under-represented in the market due to crossover overload. While you can still get pretty much anything you want these days, choices in certain categories offer only slim pickings.

One of those diminishing cliques is that of the small sporty wagon. Once rife with contenders from Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Subaru and others, it’s now been majoritively replaced here in the States by raised and plastic-clad soft roaders that add faux machismo where engaging sportiness once lay.


An example of what once was is represented by this 1997 Subaru Legacy GT wagon. Yes, a Gran Turismo wagon. What better way to carve canyons through the wine country and bring back a few cases, or in which to go antiquing with grandma when grandma’s the type to berate your entry line into each corner or to advise you on which cog to use upon its exit.


Yes, this Subaru does rock a stick. That’s a five-speed and that sends power to all four wheels via the Subie’s full-time AWD system. Power to the people is provided by a 2.5-litre EJ25 horizontally opposed four, and no I don’t know the point of the hood scoop above this naturally aspirated engine. Regardless, this is the later edition of the largish DOHC mill which unlike its predecessor is able to run just fine on 87 octane and produces a modest 155 horsepower as a result.


The dealer selling the Subie doesn’t give much description in their ad as to the car’s mechanical condition, which is concerning seeing as the naturally aspirated 2.5 does have a reputation for being somewhat problematic. A good idea with any Subaru of this age is to do a compression check and visual/auditory inspection up front prior to purchase.

This one without a doubt looks good. The bright red paint appears to hold a shine without complaint and sets off the factory alloys nicely. Those seem to be appreciably free from curb rash and are wrapped in tires that the dealer has soaked in some sort of super sheen-producing chemical. The black window trim—a typical weak spot on the cars—looks to be free from fading or wear.


The interior is also up to the task. This isn’t a Limited model so it’s not overburdened with options. The cloth seats wear better than the leather, and aside from some obvious degrading on the driver’s seat bolster, it all looks fine. The dash and door panels carry what looks to be one of those aftermarket woodgrain kits. I’ve seen those advertised on the Web, but have never seen one in person so I’m somewhat fascinated by its presence here.


In the back the dealer has made up for its overindulgence of ArmorAll on the tires by offering appropriate vacuum tracks on the carpet and accompanying floor mats. A moonroof, and roof rack, plus power accessories add to the car’s bonafides.


The seller notes that a major service was done on the car at 90K. That included a new timing belt and related accessories. The ad also makes the kind of confusing claim “HEAD GASKETS WERE DONE BUT NO PROOF NO LEAKS NEW SEALS.” I don’t know what “NO PROOF” is referring to, but at least there’s the intimation that one of the engine’s major maladies has been addressed. At present there is 125K on the Subie’s clock. The title is clean and the dealer says it comes with an accident-free past.

Is it all milk and honey here? Well, no. Even though the car is presented in fine shape, there is an odd issue in that the driver’s side side-view mirror seems to be held on with electrical tape. Either that or its base is broken and in need of replacement. Regardless of which it is, that will need to be addressed or it will haunt you every time you walk up to the car.


That’s a minor issue however. A more damning one may be the price. The seller is asking $8,997 and that’s a lot of bread for any 20-year plus Japanese mid-sizer. As I noted at the outset though, this GT represents a class for which there is little call these days, making the ones available to the small cadre of faithful all the more dear.


With that in mind, does this GT wagon seem worth that $8,997 asking? Or, does that price mean you’d leave this Legacy?

You decide!


Portland, OR Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.