The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
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For $7,500, Would You Climb In Bed With This 2003 Subaru Baja Limited?

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Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Subaru is named for the Baja peninsula, and has seemingly everything you could want. Let’s see if this odd car/truck is priced to make you want to make a run for the border.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em—and we got plenty of both yesterday—there’s no denying the iconic nature of the VW Type 1. Our candidate was a 1970 Beetle and while some of you eyed cutting off its fenders and turning it into… yes a Baja Bug, many more liked it mama bear style, just as it was. That appreciation extended to its $7,500 price tag which earned the car a 57-percent Nice Price win.


Colloquialisms are often fun when attempted by the unfamiliar. When I lived in Philly years ago it took me some time to be able to wrap my mouth around names like Schuylkill and Bala Cynwyd. Similarly today, I love the orthoepy of listening to out-of-towners in my native Southern California trying to pronounce some of our tongue-knotting names. Sep-ul-veeda is a good one, and Los Feliz somehow gets turned into los feelos.

Pretty much everyone it seems, is able to get that the “j” in Baja—the Spanish word meaning low—is pronounced with a “ha” not a “jaw.” That of course doesn’t explain the frequent mispronunciations of “La Jolla.”


Here we have a 2003 Subaru Baja Limited. Do you even remember these existed? Probably not, as this mini Chevy Avalanche based on the Outback was never all that popular, and it survived for only four model years (2003 - 2006). They may however, be ripe for a come-back.

This is a Limited model and hence comes with a ton of kit, including a moonroof (with a sliding shade for all you reluctant werewolves), leather upholstery, power this and that, and two-tone angry lemon over silver surfer paint. Yes, even at night people will see you coming in this car.


The Baja’s claim to fame however is that backend which has a pickup-style bed and an beer cooler-sized pass-thru to the back seat area. Inside, those very same back seats fold forward to allow extremely long items like fence posts or Karem Abdul-Jabbar to fit. A tailgate fence for even longer stuff can be added. Both the interior and exterior of this dealer-offered Subaru look to be in fine shape, and the ad notes plenty of tread left on the tires.


It’s the mechanicals on this Baja that make it really interesting however. Most of these bad boys were kitted with slushers, but this one attractively matches a five-speed manual with its AWD. Attached to that is what’s claimed to be a factory R-DOT replacement for its EJ51 SOHC, 165-bhp flat four.

For those of you unfamiliar, these engines had a history of going tits-up owing to head gasket failures. They were superseded by the EJ252 in ’05 which supposedly addressed the reliability issues. Regardless, this 189,000 mile Subie rocks a fresh edition under its hood. When, where, and by who goes undisclosed in the ad.


What is shared is that the car comes as stock, runs well, shifts fine and is offered without any dashboard lights of doom with which to contend. It also has a dealer-option bug shield on the nose, and bumper leeches on each of the corners. Look out for those guys.

People would be looking out for you if you owned this Baja, even if they didn’t quite know whether they were pronouncing its name correctly or not. To test their elocution you’ll need to come up with $7,500—the same as yesterday’s Beetle which some of you salivated over turning into a Baja of a different sort. This one’s already there and it’s now up to you to decide if there’s any there there at that price.


What do you say, does this manual-equipped, new motor-having Baja have you pronouncing it a great deal? Or, is that too much cash to go this “low?”

You decide!


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

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