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Autotrader Find: 1990 Subaru Legacy With a Landau Roof

Here’s something I bet you thought you’d never see: a 1990 Subaru Legacy currently listed for sale on Autotrader with just 52,000 miles and a landau roof. Most of the things in that sentence are surprising, but the combination of everything is excessively interesting.

Let’s start from the beginning: 1990 was the very first model year for the Subaru Legacy, which changed over that year from the smaller Subaru Loyale. Back then, the Legacy was so early in its life that it didn’t even have standard all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive was standard, and AWD was an option, and the Legacy remained that way until its first redesign in 1995. In fact, this particular Legacy is a FWD model, which is highly unusual.

More unusual, though, is its condition: this Legacy features a 4-speed automatic, and it’s covered just 52,000 miles. The interior is fabulously mint, with no signs of wear on the cloth upholstery, the door panels or anywhere else. At some point, the original radio was swapped out for a more modern aftermarket unit, but that looks to be the only change.

The exterior, however, has a major change: a landau roof. Landau roofs, usually made of vinyl, but occasionally of cloth (as in this case), were popular in the 1970s and 1980s for people who wanted their cars to look like a more expensive convertible version, even though they weren’t. Manufacturers once offered landau roofs as factory options, but as the feature fell out of favor, it was left to the aftermarket. I can’t recall ever having seen one on a Subaru Legacy.

So this Legacy is highly interesting: an ultra-low mile, ultra-well preserved first-year model with FWD and a landau roof. It’s safe to say you won’t see another one like this — and this Legacy is offered by Jim Babish Auto Sales in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, east of Pittsburgh for $5,950.

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  1. Not a landau roof, they were ONLY made of vinyl. This is known as a ragtop or carriage roof, which were cloth only. Landau roofs were also padded and more expensive than the regular low end vinyl roof, when these were numerous in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

  2. I can sparsely imagine people actually wanting a Landua roof, The only benefit could be the fact you’d hear the rain beating down on the roof if that’s what strikes your fancy, But they would also be much more prone to leaks.

    But in a world where people put performance badges on base model cars this doesn’t seem far fetched…
    Kinda makes me wonder how many of the BMW’s I’ve seen over the years in my home country were actual M-cars because they were much more prolific there, It was literally heaven for E30’s over there.
    • I can’t imagine how a tacked-on fake convertible top would either make the rain sound louder, or create leaks. It’s just glued to the metal roof, after all. 

    • Only negative on these is that water would sometimes seep in between the roof and the landau and eventually cause the roofs to rust (other than the horrible look). They actually would make the car quieter though, not louder, as they acted as additional insulation. 

  3. Oh Doug, you should have lived in the midwest during the 90’s. I used to see Landau EVERYTHING! Name a sedan and I bet it was Landau’d somewhere in St. Louis – Ford Contours, Taurus (yes even the bubble shaped one!), Sables, Bonnevilles, Auroras, PT Cruisers, LHS – that’s just the one’s I can remember seeing new at dealers from the top of my head. Of course every Cadillac too – even up to the DHS and STS they were still common around here. 

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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