Used Car Face Off: All-Wheel-Drive Oddities

Welcome to Used Car Face Off, where we find two similar or similarly priced used cars and ask you which one you would buy. Choose wisely!

It's the middle of September now, which means it's inching closer to the time when you might need to decide on a snow-ready car or consider riding a sled to work. As someone who was born and raised in a coastal climate and was caught completely out of his comfort zone in a Massachusetts winter, I'd be on the hunt for something with four-wheel drive.


Naturally, Subaru comes to mind when thinking of this class of car. It's harder for the non-Subaruists to remember there was a time when the Japanese car company made something other than the Outbacks that clog up suburban streets. This GL 4WD Turbo Sedan is proof they made some really wacky things, even if this well-preserved example is 50 shades of brown. The 1985 car seen here looks really, really clean, considering it's 27 years old. I love the wheel covers.

I'm a sucker for a turbo and this one has it, as evidenced by the sweet "4WD Turbo" graphic on the back. And it has the really '80s-cool digital dash display that's bound to go wrong at any second. Obviously too nice to be a beater, this neat piece of Subaru history would make a cool ride for the enthusiast or someone who likes fascinating engineering pieces.

I've found something that's even more odd than a clean 1980s Subaru Turbo, though. If you remember the first sport-utility wagon, the AMC Eagle, then you must remember its more rakish sibling, the Eagle SX/4. According to the ads, it was the official vehicle of the national ski patrol, for some reason. Also inexplicable was AMC's decision to advertise this fastback as a sports car. With the straight-six out of a Jeep, I think not.


This Montana-based 1981 SX/4 is in rough shape, which is to be expected out of an American car out of Reagan's first term. Still, it doesn't look to be unusually abused, with stylish wheels and period exterior stripes present and accounted for. The interior is appropriately kitsch, complete with a plood dash. I'd imagine with the mechanicals of a Gremlin and a raised ride height, the driving experience is similar to that of a truck. But with a paint job and good clean, it could be a good, cheap laugh.


If I'm going to go the Subaru route, it would likely be a five-door WRX. Actually, with my Euro fetish I'd probably end up with something that has a Quattro badge on it. As rare and clean as this 4WD Turbo is, it just isn't cutting it for me. The SX/4 is such a laugh and an oddity, because I don't think I've ever actually seen one on the road. For someone who wasn't even around when American Motors was a functioning company, it's this sort of alien thing that I want to try for myself. Even if it's totally the wrong choice in this face off.

What do you think? A browner-than-brown blown Subie or a Gremlin offshoot that needs work? Sound off.


All photos credit eBay.

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