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Subaru Legacy and Legacy Turbo (1989 - 1994)

Last updated 7 November 2013

 
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Buying Guide

Good

  • The most sensible large country estate car you could buy in its day. Spacious, strong and reasonably economical (25-28 mpg). Clever 'hillholder' brake system. Low transmission range very useful for crawling along in a traffic jam. Avoid the 2.0DL or 2.0DLSE (Feb 92-April 94) which has only part-time four-wheel drive and lower rear roof line.
  • American-built Legacy from December 1998 has revised floorpan with less suspension intrusion into load area.
  • Did very well in USA Insurance Industry offset crash tests.
  • 2.0 litre flat fours apparently non interference if the timing belt snaps.
  • Turbo nicknamed in the trade the Subaru 'Lunacy', with 197bhp four cam flat four turbo engine these are very quick yet full five-seaters and the estate is a full-size estate car.
  • Legacy Turbos were winning rallies before the Impreza came onto the scene.

Bad

  • Spartan interior. Frameless side windows. Propensity to score rear discs. Cheap, old shape 'Classic' models dropped from line-up in autumn 1999 and new models were £2,000 dearer.
  • They do get crashed.
  • Getting very old now for a petrol turbo.

Watch

  • Have been known to sit around on dockside compounds for years before finding buyers, so registration date may be 18 months later than build date.
  • Always check the rear discs for scoring.
  • If it has a tow-hook, check whether it's been pulling a single or a double horsebox.
  • Use a torch to peer underneath just in case it's been up a rough track and suffered serious damage from a rock.
  • Mk Is from 1989-94 are very old now. Second or third owner may have skimped maintenance and used it for hauling animals.
  • Have a good look under load area carpeting for dents.
  • If the car has seat covers, take them off - a dog may have eaten the seats.
  • EJ20 two litre Subaru engines (and some others) developed a bad reputation for premature big end bearing failure. Subaru claimed that the problem was lack of maintenance, but a number of cases where the buyer was careful and thorough and it still occurred. The problem is worst on the twin turbo versions: these engines are equipped with the short skirt pistons which also wear badly. The symptom of the big end problem is a distinct knocking when you start the car from cold and the symptom of the piston wear is a rattle when cold. The above two problems seem to strike at around 100,000 miles.
  • Accident damage. Twisted shell. Suspension and or steering damage from 'falling off the road'.
  • Smoke from exhaust could mean turbo oil seals have gone.
  • Obviously quite a few were brought in as used imports from Japan.
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