Living with the Seven Sisters

When your corporate emblem carries an image of the Pleiades, certain things happen:

A long time ago I had a Subaru. I think it was a ’69 model, give or take a year or two. It had 80 HP and got 30 MPG. Gas only cost a quarter, but minimum wage was only $2.25. If memory serves, the car cost $1400 used. I got my parents to buy it for me on the premise that I wasn’t never going to college. I suffered through high school and I was thoroughly sick of school. I drove the shit out of that car, from Ohio to Florida, California, up and down the West Coast, back to Ohio and eventually to Texas where, after being crunched twice and two major engine repairs, I sold it for parts. It was a little tin box, but it went fast enough to keep up on the freeway.

Subaru of America opened its doors (with a kick from Malcolm Bricklin) in 1968, which is a clue. Another is that no Subaru engine was actually rated at 80 bhp until the EA-62, which dates to 1971. (And really, that’s an impressive number of ponies; the Toyota 20R engine in my ’75 Celica was 2.2 liters large, versus the Sube’s 1.3, but delivered only 96 bhp.)

Subarus are very popular here in Oregon. They are especially handy if you go to, or over, the mountains in the winter time. I don’t like them because I suspect the viscous coupling they use to connect the front and rear drive axles is some kind of Japanese bullshit, i.e. a very expensive component that you can’t repair yourself. If it fails the least you can expect is you’ll have to buy a new one from the dealer for half the price of a new car. Of course if it never fails, it’s not a problem. I have no evidence to support any of this, just my feelings on the subject. I suspect that the only cars that use this technology are Subaru and some overpriced German snobmobiles, and being as Chuck rhymes with Cheap, I ain’t spending any money on these kind of gimcracks.

From what I read, the most likely point of failure is the head gasket, which might not be so bad except that the flat-four layout used by almost all Subarus means two gaskets instead of one. (The rest of them use a flat six.) And, as the man says, if it never fails, it’s not a problem.

For what it’s worth, when Trini was working with me, she was driving a latter-day Saturn; she eventually traded it in for a Subaru Impreza. And not the WRX version, either.


  1. fillyjonk »

    13 June 2018 · 7:53 am

    My brother and sister-in-law’s Subaru has given them problems since at least 2015 (burning oil, gaskets needed replaced, something wrong with the axle….)

    they are buying another one…in fact, sped up their timeline on buying it after hearing that allegedly Subaru is going to stop selling standard transmission cars in the US.

    I don’t get it, either. Then again, I knew people who had MGs or Triumphs who claimed to “love” them despite the car spending more time at the mechanic’s than in the owner’s garage.

  2. McGehee »

    13 June 2018 · 12:26 pm

    I’ve been impressed by a couple of sorta-recent Japanese sedans I’ve been lent. An Arizona-tagged Nissan Altima with a 2.5-liter engine, rented at the SLC airport for a trip to Wyoming in 2003, offered plenty of pep on mountain roads and went 400 miles on ten gallons of regular.

    In Missouri on another trip in 2010 Mrs. McG’s ’98 Civic seized up and needed major repair, so the dealership in Lees Summit lent us a Subaru Impreza (also not WRX). I liked it as much as I did the Altima, though there were no mountains and no 400-mile excursions.

    They did seem to have, if not more horses than I might have expected, certainly more responsive ones.

  3. In The Mailbox: 06.13.18 : The Other McCain »

    13 June 2018 · 6:34 pm

    […] Dustbury: Living With The Seven Sisters […]

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