The Bay Area is a prime location for car spotting. The weather is mild, and even the salty air from the pacific ocean is easy on cars compared to the winter salt-slush-freeze-thaw that a good 45 percent of the United States puts up with every year. Cars here just sort of last. 

I had about a day to myself between the Car Bibles Radwood trip’s end and my return flight to Ohio. I rented a car, and drove around San Francisco, in search of cool cars I hadn’t seen in a while.

The Subaru XT Is Like a Lost Child Bertone Won’t Acknowledge
Image: Kevin Williams
  • Car: Subaru XT
  • Location: Somewhere in north San Fransisco
  • Photog: me (Kevin Williams)
  • Camera: Canon EOS M

The Subaru XT is a crazy-looking coupe from the 1980s. Subaru probably wouldn’t say it, but it’s clearly inspired of wedge-like designs of Italian design houses like Bertone. The low profile, doorstop-like nose, and curt, boxy rear end look as if it could have been a design alternate for some 1980s era Fiat or Alfa Romeo coupe. The door handles are flush, the glasshouse wraps around — it was a very interesting (and stylish) design for the day.

The Subaru XT Is Like a Lost Child Bertone Won’t Acknowledge
Image: Kevin Williams

This example was hanging out somewhere north of the Castro district, parked casually on the street. The drivers’ side mirror was broken, but the rest of the body was generally in good shape, (and rust-free).

The low spec rims, automatic transmission, lack of sunroof, point to this example is a base model non-turbo version. Underneath the hood, you’ll likely find a naturally aspirated 2.2 liter boxer four-cylinder that could only claim 97 horsepower when it was new. Back then, Subaru didn’t offer all-wheel-drive as standard equipment, so this car likely has whatever remains of those 97 ponies going to the front wheels, through a four-speed automatic.

When I first started flipping cars back in 2014, I stumbled upon one of these for sale for dirt cheap. However, the complexity of the boxer four, weird looks, and rust kept me away. I ended up flipping and making a profit on a 1998 Nissan Altima, which gave me the confidence to buy and sell more cars.

I wonder if I would have kept flipping cars if I bought that Subaru XT back in 2014? Probably not.