Home » Garage gem – 1985 Subaru XT

Garage gem – 1985 Subaru XT

Today we launch a new segment here at Driveanotherday: Garage Gem – the cars that have been hidden away somewhere for years, only to make an appearance when you least expect it.

And to kick it off we present a car that we’ve only ever seen once in the bluest of blue moons, the Subaru ‘Vortex’ XT!

The strange warped lunchbox shape, the bulging bonnet, the futuristic look (well for the 80’s), that completely godawful steering wheel that looks like it’s been stolen out of a cheap 60’s sci-fi involving plastic dinosaurs, what’s not to love about the Subaru XT?

Subaru XT































Be still my pulse!

And in my 34 years on the planet, I reckon I’ve seen a total of one in the wild. Yep, just one. A red one and it drove past quicker than I could say ‘I reckon I have a Tamiya model of that thing I built years ago..’  Rarer than hen’s teeth? Not anymore – look what I found hidden away near my own backyard!

XT 1
Like a pristine transformer..

In a barn on the outskirts of town lies a resprayed 1985 Subaru XT waiting for a new home and I’ve never felt the need to waste $550 so much in my life.

XT 2


Yes at that price and with  356780 kms it might need tonnes of work, but hey it’s a nice looking and very uncommon Subaru XT! And okay I’m well aware that driving the Vortex might make the EJ20 in my current WRX feel like an absolute missile, but what a bit of fantastic bargain history!


And just look at that ahead of it’s time interior!
Subaru XT


Cargurus paint a clearer pictureThe XT was well appointed for a sport coupe, offering a lot of standard power features, sport seats, and only one sweeping front wiper.  The interior was arranged like a cockpit, with pod gauges.  Other innovations for the time were a trip computer, digital dash display, and adjustable suspension height.  The instrument cluster was attached to the tilt steering so that it moved with the wheel, to maintain visibility.  
The XT never delivered enough performance to become popular with the racing crowd and was replaced in 1992 by the SVX, another sport coupe which fared poorly due to its larger and heavier body.  A sporty, driver-oriented Subaru wouldn’t really take hold until the Impreza WRX.

It just screams pure sex (provided you still have mutton chop sideburns, live in an area where jeans are considered classy and mustaches make the man). But still…

The ads of the day were just as glorious as the car itself, making it look like a speed machine ripped right out of Amstrad driving game (on 10 floppy disks!):

And how we wish for the days of shifters that looked like joysticks and steering wheels that looked like…like…actually no, just the days of shifters that looked like joysticks will be fine.

Steering wheel

So…anyone ever tried/owned one of these pulse quickening machines?

Just bought one and not sure what does what? This might help: Subaru Impreza, Legacy, Justy, XT, SVX, Brat and 1.6, 1.8 L-series (1985-96) (Chilton total car care)


  1. Kane says:

    I was looking to get this exact car up to QLD! I’ve owned an SVX and would really love to own a Vortex, but sadly they are as rare as they are. I even saw one or two for sale about 5 years ago, but that was too soon for me. Enjoy this car!

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