1986 Subaru XT Coupe

1986 Subaru XT Coupe Models
  • DL five-speed
  • GL five-speed
  • GL automatic
  • Turbo five-speed
  • Turbo automatic
  • 4WD Turbo five-speed
  • 4WD Turbo automatic

Five years ago, we took a walk through the small fleet of vehicles stored in what is called the Subaru of America, Inc. “museum.” There really is no museum, but a collection of vehicles considered important to the history of Subaru in America. We featured many of them in the Summer 2006 and Fall 2006 issues of Drive and a number of performance vehicles in the Subaru Drive Performance publication shortly thereafter.


We referred to this warehouse as the Subaru attic because that’s where items of interest have been stored, just as we’d store important memories in our own attics.


This collection put us in the frame of mind to keep tabs on Subaru vehicles of interest. Recently, we learned of a collector who is restoring a 1986 Subaru XT Coupe. So we asked to follow its progress.




The two-door Subaru XT Coupe was in its second model year for 1986. At its introduction in 1985, it was the world’s most aerodynamic production car. Its 0.29 coefficient of drag was the result of its wedge shape and a number of design details. These included a low hood line, integrated front air dam, flush roof pillars and drip moldings, high “Kamm”-style rear deck, rear-wheel air deflectors, and flush, hinged door handles. The single-blade windshield wiper tucked under the hood when not in use.


The XT Coupe model lineup included front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive (called “4WD” in 1989) versions. Front-wheel-drive models had non-turbocharged and turbocharged engines, and the all-wheel-drive models all had turbos. These were light automobiles, with curb weights ranging from 2,280 to 2,660 pounds.


One of the interesting mechanical features of the 4WD Turbo models was a self-leveling air suspension system. It allowed variable height adjustment, which could be set by the driver to help tackle different road conditions.


Other features helped the XT Coupe stand out. On the exterior, it had pop-up halogen headights, a hood scoop, and, for most models, body-color bumpers.


Mechanical highlights included a 1.8-liter SUBARU BOXER engine, fuel injection, three-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission, and a Hill-Holder® system on all models with manual transmission. The non-turbo engine developed 94 horsepower, and the turbocharged engine produced 110 horsepower.


Inside were seats with a checkerboard pattern, asymmetrical spokes on the steering wheel, and instrument-panel graphics. Pods mounted to the steering column held switch modules for the car’s various systems. The rear seatback folded for cargo.


This was the predecessor of the Subaru SVX, which debuted in the early 1990s.

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