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1986 Subaru XT Turbo : Classic Cars

Subaru of America in Pennsylvania was formed on February 15, 1967 when Malcoln Bricklin and Harvey Lamm contracted with Fuji Heavy Industries to import the Subaru in 1968. In the first year, a total of 332 vehicles were imported. By 2000 a total of 172,216 Subaru's were sold.

Five Japanese companies merged in 1953 to form Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd, with a 'Subaru' cluster of stars that became its official logo for its vehicles. Subaru is Japanese for ‘unite', and the company is better known by the Greek name Pleiades, part of the Taurus constellation. Named after the brightest star in the Pleiades star cluster, the Alcyone name was chosen based on the Subaru logo. Alcyone's were sold in Japan, and all were available in either front wheel or four wheel drive, depending on the year.

In February 1985 the Subaru XT, considered to be the ‘most aerodynamic car in the world' was introduced. The 2-door sports coupe was revolutionary in its design with all sharp angles and wedges, rather than the rounded lines of previous models. This design was done in an effort to improve aerodynamics and enhance both handling and performance. Due to the engine's flat horizontally opposed cylinder layout that was featured in all 85 Subaru's, the unique wedge body shape was made possible. Extreme and extensive wind tunnel testing was used to lower wind resistance, and along with other features, resulted in the most aerodynamic production vehicle of its time with a coefficient of drag or Cd of ‘0.29'.

Part of the Alcyone lineup, the XT came in three trims, the base DL, the better-equipped GL, and the top-of-the-range GL-10. In the early stages of its introduction, the XT was offered as either front-wheel or on-demand four-wheel drive, but in 1987 it switched to permanent all-wheel drive. Two available engine choices were either a 97-hp flat-4 or a turbo version at 111-hp. Not considered a sports coupe yet, the all new XT6 was introduced in 1987 and featured a new 145-hp flat-six. Fitted with two engines, the 1985 XT featured the EA82 and the EA82T. The EA82 had a 181 cc H4 that produced 97 hp at 5200 rpm and 103 ft·lbf at 3200 rpm. The EA82T was 1781 cc turbocharged H4 that produced 112 HP at 4800 rpm and 143 ft·lbf at 2800 rpm. The power of the XT turbo was increased to 136 hp in Europe. Beginning in 1987, the power was increased to 115 hp.

The Subaru XT also introduced ‘aircraft type' door handles that were completely flush with the outside of the door and could be accessed only by tapping a retractable panel. Offering much in the way of standard power features, the XT was well endowed as a sports coupe, with available sports seats and only one sweeping front wiper.

The XT was also quite impressive inside, with a cockpit-like interior, and pod gauges. Innovative for this time period, the inside featured a digital dash display, adjustable suspension height and a trip computer. To maintain visibility, the instrument cluster was attached to the tilt steering so that it moved with the wheel. 'Joystick' shaped, the shifter had a thumb trigger interlock and ‘on-demand' 4WD engage button. Turbo models were enabled with a ‘artificial horizon' orange backlit LCD instrument display with the boost indicator, tachometer, temperature and fuel gages features as 3d graphs that tilted back out to the horizon.

The Subaru XT was sold in Australia and New Zealand as the Vortex while the XT6 was sold in both Europe and North America. The New York Times called the XT ‘the ultimate in jazzy design', in comparison to Subaru's older ‘cheap and ugly' models. The unusual wedge shape design led to the unflattering nickname ‘flying doorstop'.

Receiving a minor update in 1987 for the second half of the 87 model year, the XT could be easily distinguished from later models by the taillight and reverse light configuration. Six-cylinder models and all wheel drive turbo models can be distinguished by the shape of the headrests. Base models featured solid headrests, while the turbo AWD and six-cylinder models had a large rectangular hole through the center.

The XT6 was introduced in 1987 as a '88 model with the intention of upgrading the powerplant to a more competitive drive. The new XT6 featured145 hp 2.7 L flat-six ER27, along with additional upgrades that included heavier suspension to handle the larger engine and 5-bolt hubs and wheels that accommodated the extra torque. Also fitted with a unique Cybrid adaptive electrohydraulic steering system, that changed the level of assistance based on the vehicle's speed, the system didn't use a conventional belt-driven power steering pump, which freed up much-needed space in the cramped engine bay. The Subaru XT6's Cybrid system also used hydraulic fluid that was compatible with conventional steering fluid.

Not available with the digital instrument cluster of the turbo XT models, the XT6 went without. The XT6 was sold as the Alcyone VX in the Japanese market. No XT's were ever sold in New Zealand, though they were brought in as a demo, but since New Zealands' fuel options were 91 octane unleaded fuel of 96 octane leaded fuel, there was no point in selling the XT6 as the 2700 cc 6 Cyl engine that required 96 octane unleaded petrol. In Japan, no front wheel drive Alcyone VXs were ever sold.

Unfortunately, the XT failed to deliver enough performance to become popular enough with the racing public and was eventually replaced in 1992 by the much larger Subaru Alcyone SVX. Burdened with a larger and heavier body, the SVX also fared poorly. It wasn't until the Impreza WRX that Subara finally delivered to the sporty driver-oriented crowd.

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Sources : 1986 Subaru XT Turbo Photo | 1986 Subaru XT Turbo Article

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