A Detailed Look at Travis Pastrana’s 1983 Subaru GL “Family Huckster”
From Leone with love comes the station wagon from which the wild racer of Travis Pastrana and Hoonigan was born. This is the Subaru Leone (Italian; lion) compact car, which the Japanese automaker Subaru produced from 1971 to 1994. It was a replacement model for the relatively short-lived Subaru 1000, produced from 1966 to 1969. Leone was Subaru’s flagship model before the arrival of the Subaru Legacy in 1989.
Notably, Leone was for many years the Japanese automaker’s only export to markets where small Kei-class cars failed to meet local regulations. As a result, major markets like Australia, Europe, and North America got them in trim levels like DL, GL, GLF, GLF5, GL-10, and RX. All the “L”s explain why the car is commonly referred to as the Subaru GL or the L-series.
In June 2022, the duo of Pastrana and Hoonigan, in partnership with Subaru Motorsports USA, unveiled a 1983 Subaru GL station wagon, tuned and touted to “rip the Gymkhana.” Here’s all the details you need to know about Pastrana, Hoonigan, Gymkhana and the amazing custom “Family Huckster” built to tear things up in daredevil racing.
Brief overview of the 1983 Subaru GL Station Wagon
Since we’re talking about the 1983 Subaru GL that Pastrana turned into an 862hp station wagon, it’s fair to introduce the guy and his partners who gave the Cheetah his limbs.
Travis Alan Pastrana is a 39-year-old American motor sports competitor and stuntman. He has won multiple X Games championships and gold medals in multiple disciplines including supercross, motocross, freestyle motocross, and rally racing. With a reported net worth of $25 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, Pastrana has earned her spurs in extreme sports.
Pastrana’s partner in crime, the Hoonigan, is a motor racing team that competes in the American Rally Association, fielding a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC car for Ken Block. Gymkhana is an 8 episode viral unscripted video series starring Ken Block, featuring timed and/or speed running events and boasting over 550 million views. Gymkhana races typically feature all kinds of obstacles, not limited to barrels, cones, and tires, designed to test both the driver’s and vehicle’s abilities.
That said, let’s revisit the ’80s station wagon that morphed into the Family Huckster built for speed. The 1983 Subaru GL is a 4-door wagon with an original MSRP of $7,729 (about $22,078 in today’s money). One look at the car and you understand why it was Pastrana’s favorite speed machine.
Even so, the car was not built as a purebred rally racer, which informs its standard FWD with 4WD available; a Subaru auxiliary drive system called On-Demand 4WD. In other words, the front wheels did all the traction like any other Subaru on everyday roads. However, at showtime, the driver can unleash the monster by keeping the front wheel straight, releasing the clutch and pulling the lever on demand one notch at a time, all the way to the top.
If the weather gets too bad or the terrain suddenly begins to tilt, another pull will noiselessly multiply the overall gear ratios to provide a 46% speed reduction. It’s what you might call a hill holder. The car is 168.7 inches long and is powered by a 1.8 liter OHC 4-cylinder engine, carburetor and boxer engine. It could produce 73 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 94 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 rpm.
Fuel economy was 24/30 MPG for city and highway driving. In the end, Pastrana and his pals managed to transform this otherwise humble roadcar into a radiant mountain Leone to climb the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed without breaking a sweat.
Pastrana’s Huckster family continued where the Subaru WRX STI left off
So Pastrana raced his new Subaru GL Family Huckster at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but that was after crashing his Subaru WRX STI on the short forest stage, damaging the car’s roll bar and preventing it and Subaru Motorsports United States to participate more in the rally stage for the rest of the event this weekend.
Travis Pastrana unveiled his new Family Huckster earlier this year, but he’s been keeping the specs under wraps. It was a 1983 Subaru GL designed in conjunction with Hoonigan and Subaru Motorsport USA and built by Vermont SportsCar, Subaru’s American motorsport partner. However, the cat was pulled out of the bag just days before the highly anticipated Goodwood event, leaving fans and enthusiasts stunned by the ultra-radial, rally-ready blast of the past, packing a turbocharged flat-4 engine. linked to a 6-speed sequential and capable of 862 horsepower.
Of course, it’s AWD. It features a championship-spec suspension system and a custom tubular spaceframe chassis supporting the carbon fiber body. The interior painstakingly reflects the original, with an original 1983 GL radio and a 12-inch digital instrument cluster with a display programmed to look like a 1980s Subaru digital cluster, all in a dash in recreated blue carbon fiber that mimics the look of the stock GL.
The Family Huckster incorporated aerodynamic elements from the unique Subaru WRX Airslayer, which Pastrana had ridden to glory in the 2020 Gymkhana and the 2021 Mt Washington Hill Climb. This means the Family Huckster borrowed the active rear wing from the Airslayer and movable aero flaps front and rear, not to mention the carbon fiber roof rack that directs air to the rear-mounted radiator via a NACA duct in the roof. These features were really useful, considering the boxy shape of the wagon.
“The 1983 wagon flies as well as you imagine…kinda like a brick,” Pastrana said in a statement. “It makes jumps a lot sketchier but also more entertaining and less predictable. The Family Huckster is definitely my favorite vehicle to drive.” Get ready to see the Family Huckster in action again in Hoonigan’s Gymkhana video series later this year.