First SUW: 1998 Subaru Outback Limited 5-Speed – SOLD!

Jan 2021 | Classifinds, Wagon Wednesday

January 16th, 2021 Update – While preparing for our next Wagon Wednesday features, we noticed the private seller of this very clean ’98 Subaru Outback wagon just labeled their car in their listing as “SOLD!” It took a long time to get the price they wanted, but we trust it was worth the wait!

January 4th, 2021 Update – The private seller continues to struggle to find a buyer willing to pay their firm $6,495 asking price for their very clean Subaru Outback wagon we’ve been following since last August.

December 8th Update – We confirmed with the private seller that after lowering the price just under $6,000, the private seller received several, low-ball, “tire-kicker” offers.  Consequently, he decided to increase his asking price back to $6,495 in the hopes of attracting the right buyer who appreciates the condition of his Outback.

November 29th Update – We just came across a fresh Craigslist ad for this stick-shift we’ve been tracking since early August.  This is the first time the private seller has offered this clean-looking example for less than six thousand and we hope that will help finally find a buyer for this Subie.

October 17th Update – The private seller of this repainted ’98 Subaru Outback just posted a fresh ad for his stick-shift wagon. The price remains the same.

October 5th Update – The private seller of this repainted ’98 Subaru Outback just updated his listing confirming his very clean wagon is now CarFax Certified and just passed the New Jersey state inspection that’s good through September 2022.  Candidly, we’re surprised this car has not sold yet as it’s easily the cleanest example we’ve come across to date.

September 18th Update – The private seller of this very nice ’98 Subaru Outback just lowered their asking price $500 to $6,499.  This revised price now puts this car inside of the NADA Guides “High” retail value boundary so hopefully, the private seller will finally start to see more traction (pun intended).

September 11th Update – We just noticed a fresh listing for this great looking ’98 Subaru Outback wagon with the price lowered to $6,999. We’ve updated the links below.  The private seller did reply to our email and confirmed that a potential sale fell through when a motivated seller could not obtain enough financing for the car.

September 1st Update – One week later, we discovered the seller of this Subaru lowered their asking price to $7,495.  Despite the fluctuations in price, we confirmed this car is legitimately for sale and appears to be a great example.

August 26th Update – Oddly, the seller just updated their Craigslist ad with the price now back to $7,995. We’re beginning to think this may be some sort of Craigslist Scam ad, which is a rare sight these days but serves as proof they still exist! We will reach out via the seller’s email to see whether we get a response. Stay tuned!

August 16th Update – Earlier today the private seller of this 1998 Subaru Outback we first featured on August 4th lowered their asking price $1,000 to $6,495, which brings it within the NADA Guides pricing range.

By the mid-1990s, automakers realized the Sport Utility Vehicle (“SUV”) craze was more than just a passing fad.  Popular full-size offerings such as the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee started appealing to families as an alternative to both the traditional station wagon and minivan.  Newer, smaller SUVs such as the Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4 provided smaller, somewhat more fuel-efficient alternatives. Unfortunately, while all of these SUVs offered go-anywhere capability that piqued the interest of true car enthusiasts, the truck-like handling and braking kept most enthusiasts away. Many consumers wanted a more durable and utility-based wagon as an alternative.  Then along came Subaru with its first-generation Outback such as this freshly painted Limited 5-speed manual example first listed in August 2020 on Craigslist in Millstone Township, New Jersey with the latest asking price of $6,499, which is down from the original ask of $7,995.  Hagerty Insurance does not provide valuations for these first-generation Outbacks yet, so a check of the NADA Guides Classic Car Online Valuation Tool confirms this private seller has his Limited model priced above the current “Low”, “Average”, and “High” retail value range of $3,325, $4,725, and $6,775, respectively.

Subaru based its first-generation Outback, produced from 1994 through 1999, on its existing second-generation Legacy wagon platform.  For 1994 and 1995 came equipped with the same 2.2L EJ22 engine used in the Legacy while the initial model was largely limited to cosmetic changes, featuring two-tone paint, larger wheels and tires, mud flaps, a roof rack, and upgraded upholstery.

The 1996 model year Outback, released in September 1995, incorporated more substantial mechanical changes, including a raised suspension increasing ground clearance to 7.3 inches, a raised roof borrowed from the Legacy Touring Wagon variant, and an optional 2.5L 155 horsepower EJ25 engine. Subaru marketed the revised Outback as the world’s first sport-utility wagon.

Encapsulating the sport theme of the Outback wagon, Subaru hired Paul Hogan, star of the movie Crocodile Dundee, as a pitchman for the vehicle. The ad campaign, which debuted in fall 1995 for the 1996 model year, cost an estimated $20–22 million and included TV ads in which Hogan and an unnamed female companion outrun competing sport-utility vehicles by virtue of the Outback’s superior stability, handling, braking, and fuel economy.  The advertisements successfully raised sales, with nearly 20,000 Outbacks sold in the nine months following the start of the campaign.  Hogan, a former car salesman, reportedly warned Subaru “You better be able to build a lot of these [Outbacks] because I’m going to sell the hell out of them.”

Here’s an example of one of those commercials:

This Subaru takes me back to the late 1990s as I seriously considered buying a very similar spec example brand new and even test drove one.  Living in Western New York with two young children, the Subaru had the potential to haul all of our ski stuff in the winter as a poor man’s Audi Quattro alternative. Ultimately, we ended up buying a second-generation All-Wheel-Drive Chrysler Town & Country minivan as that offered superior cargo and carrying capacity combined with All Wheel Drive capability.  With the RADWood craze in full swing these days, I was I had both vehicles now.

This example appears to be one of the nicest first-generation Outbacks we’ve come across.  While the fresh paint helps with first impressions, the mechanical repairs cited in the private seller’s description doesn’t hurt either. With the entire service history included with this Outback as well, this appears to a great RADwood eligible choice for a car enthusiasts with an active lifestyle.  Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“NEW PAINT JOB!!CARFAX CERTIFIED! For Sale is my 1998 Subaru Outback Limited with only 113,500 original miles. I am the 2nd owner purchasing it back in 2011 with 50,000 miles on the odometer. This is the Outback that you have been searching for all over the internet. The interior for the exception of the driver’s seat is immaculate. The driver’s seat has no rips or tears in the leather but it is worn as seen in the photo. The Passenger front and rear seats look like brand new. The dash, gauges, A/C, stereo, CD player, and retractable antenna all work with no issues. This Outback Limited IS the real deal, with no issues whatsoever. I average about 29-30MPG in local driving. I have the entire service record history which includes oil changes and all repairs performed. A/C is ice cold, All scheduled maintenance performed including valve cover gasket, head gasket, timing belt, brakes, rotors, pads, calipers, axels, rack and pinion, 4 New Goodyear tires installed in November 2018, CV joints, spark plugs and wires, etc. New timing belt, seals, water pump, and thermostat replaced in July 2019. Always garaged, Must see, Non-smoker. No mechanical issues, no rust! Serious inquiries only. No tire kickers.

Do you have a First Gen Subaru Outback story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!

1 Comment
  1. First SUW: 1998 Subaru Outback Limited 5-Speed – SOLD!

    The seller put himself in a tricky situation. If he had all the work done by a shop that’s big money and you can easily spend yourself upside down.
    It is a very interesting car but the people willing to pony up the asking price for the rarity and novelty are very few. He needed to cast to a national audience and take his chances with an auction.
    To the majority of Craigslist shoppers it’s just a very shiny old car with a transmission they don’t know how to operate.


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