US Ski Team Car? 1985 Subaru GL Wagon

I remember seeing the Subaru US Ski Team commercials on TV a few decades ago, showing cars like this 1985 Subaru GL 4×4 wagon with the bold, bright “Official Car” of the US Ski Team graphics on them, plowing through the snow. This example can be found listed here on eBay in Lakewood, California, a city that maybe hasn’t seen snow in years? The current bid price is just over $2,100 and there is no reserve!

US Ski Team tribute graphics or not, this two-owner rust-free Subaru 4×4 wagon is an incredible buy at anything around $4,000 or $5,000, being in this outstanding condition. I believe that these are tribute graphics rather than actual, official graphics but I’m not positive The seller says that they’re easily removable. Here’s a YouTube video showing a classic MotorWeek review of a US Ski Team Subaru from three years prior to this 1985 model. John Davis looks so young! I guess most of us did back in 1982 if we were alive at that time.

Whether this is a real US Ski Team car or official tribute or not, I love the graphics and I’d keep them. Subaru used them for several years and it’s $410 worth of instant parking lot group chats to see these bright graphics. The Subaru Leone wagon is a legendary car even without being associated with a ski team. Here’s an old Subaru commercial showing a similar US Ski Team-related wagon here on YouTube.

The interior looks as great as the exterior does and, yes, this car has a 5-speed manual transmission. This is a third-generation Subaru Leone which was known here as the DL or GL and this wagon is or was, according to the seller, a one-owner car until they bought it an unknown amount of time ago. It’s a rust-free California car and there is also a craigslist ad with many more photos here. Or, here, when the listing goes away. The seats appear to be in great condition and they never did have enough bolstering, really, but they look great, as does the rear cargo area.

The engine is Subaru’s EA-82, a 1.8L boxer-four with around 85 horsepower in carburetor form. I would prefer a more trouble-free fuel-injected later version like my 1988 RX Turbo had, but that’s just me, this one would work nicely. The seller tells us that a mind-blowing amount of work has been done, including, “complete engine overhaul and re-seal .. new water pum, 2 new timing belts with new tensioners front and rear seal all new, new rack and pinio, new front and rear drive axle, new radiato, new ball joints, belts, hoses and more…brakes are good, 4 wheel alignment just done, drives very straight and doesn’t pull.. always runs at normal temperatures and doesn’t overheat, no leak, new muffler.. rebuilt carbureto, new master cylinder, new vacuum line, new clutc, A/C works and more.”  This car really makes me want to fill a storage unit or two full of vintage Subarus again. Have any of you owned a third-generation Subaru?

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Comments

  1. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    My second-ever spanking new car was a top-line ’88 Subaru Loyale Turbo AWD 2-pedal (for 1.0). Gawd, how the neighborhood cats would RUN when that turbo spooled up – what a whine, with little to show for it. Decent car overall that taught me how NOT to drive in snow, and then how to do it properly.

    Not much rust on it 5 years later when a babysitter used it and got t-boned by an SUV; kids were shaken but the car was a goner. So was the sitter…

    My DD 2.5GT wagon is FAR superior; good growth curve for Sue Baroo, but it won’t be replaced by them as their stars are out of alignment…

    Like 4
    • JD DJ

      Epic: kids were shaken but the car was a goner. So was the sitter…

      Like 2
  2. Mitchell Gildea Member

    Take this to Radwood and you’ll win Best of Show

    Like 4
  3. Jonathan

    In 2000, I had a ’92 Loyale 4×4 wagon with a 4spd manual with that long shifter and the cool orange 4×4 button on the top. I really liked it, but it was terrible at passing speed. The good part was great low end torque and took curves and turns like it was on rails.

    Unfortunately I had to dump it as the head was leaking and I didn’t want to spend the money for the fix since I was a relatively poor grad student.

  4. Frank B

    I believe that is an EA-81 engine.

  5. Jon Rappuhn

    We had a 2nd gen GL wagon and loved it. A few things still stand out, it would go anywhere my Ramcharger and W200 pickup would go. It was narrow enough that I could get up on the center and the edge of the ruts and not even get muddy, lol. 2 nd thing was the radio quit one spring with a blown fuse, replaced the fuse and immediately blew again so let it go. Drove 2 or 3 months that way in the summer, 90-100 degrees out, never overheated or anything. Went in for oil change, mentioned the radio and they ordered a new one. After the oil change, mechanic started it and noticed the fan (electric) wasn’t turning, looked and a piece of wood was jammed between the fan and engine, (a little stream crossing in the spring). Removed it, replaced fuse, voila fan and radio worked. Finally had to trade it for something bigger.

    Like 2
    • Nigel Utting

      Travelled from Darwin to Sydney (Australia) towing a trailer mid summer, distance over 4000 kays in temperatures up to 46 Deg C. Mine, an EA82 carby kept perfect running temp the whole trip.

  6. 433jeff

    I like the lighter loyale more than the following legacy, I’m sure it’s not as safe, but I’m all for the simplicity of the ea82 with a carb and with the turbo. I had one with a hitachi carb that was really great, a different animal than the turbo. The dual range tranny was not only great in a foot of snow, but it allowed you to not be stuck with awd in the summer , I see one or 2 come up a year on cl

    Like 1
  7. 433jeff

    I like the lighter loyale more than the following legacy, I’m sure it’s not as safe, but I’m all for the simplicity of the ea82 with a carb and with the turbo. I had one with a hitachi carb that was really great, a different animal than the turbo. The dual range tranny was not only great in a foot of snow, but it allowed you to not be stuck with awd in the summer , I see one or 2 come up a year on cl

  8. alphasud Member

    I was in high school when my neighbor had a Subaru wagon. I also remember helping him remove the engine to service the clutch. One person on each cylinder head lift up and out. Another funny design was this engine used 2 timing belts so if you were lucky the one that did not run the distributor would brake and you could limp it home on a couple cylinders.

    Like 1
    • Nigel Utting

      I owned two, an 88 model and 91 and snapped timing belts in both. The 88 snapped when an idler pully seized. The 91 snapped a belt because I hadn’t realised the belt change interval in the 91 had been reduced to 75000 from 100000 in the 88 and went too far over, silly me! Both engines suffered no damage and ran fine after the belts and idlers were replaced. Great little engines!

  9. Tennis Tim

    I used to work at S.O. A. In the late 70’s.. head gasket problems were a problem but by 1985 they were solid vehicle

  10. Neal in Boston

    Subaru.

    I’ve loved these older Subarus. Stay away from the early turbos, though.

    The wagon version was a favorite of mine. I had a top-of-the-line GLT (Turbo) ’85 wagon that I bought used in ’93 as my first car. It had led a pampered life and was a trade-in with low miles and no rust even though it was “old” for a northeast daily driver, but it had loads of problems in the several years I owned it.

    His name was Jake. Never name your vehicles because you get too attached. My low-mileage ’85 had been lovingly cared for and maintained. I continued to care for it, religiously letting it idle for over a minute as instructed each time before turning off the ignition to ensure proper cooling and lubrication of the turbo bearings. They should have never added a turbo to that engine: it had a habit of cracking the aluminum cylinder heads from heat and boost. Needed y-pipes, cylinder heads that cracked because of the heat and boost of the turbo, a differential rebuild. I actually fixed it TWICE and then I gave up. I sold it when the replacement heads failed again. I refused to sell it to a single mom who was looking for reliable transportation. Buyer knew what he was getting into when he swung circles in a parking lot to check for cv joint clatter and left plumes of white smoke from burning coolant in rings around us. They should have never turbocharged that engine.

    I’ve stayed away from Subarus since (I hate the grindy whine of their boxer engines, even on the new ones) and turbos in general ever since.

    I still have the heads and differential pieces in my basement for some reason. Always wanted to make them into andirons or something.

    I swore off turbos and Subarus in general, but someday if the right Scout with an intercooled 4BT comes along, I might change my turbo vow…

    Sounds like I rode it hard and put it away wet a lot, but I actually took good care of it. Ol’Jake let me down and cost me a lot of money I didn’t have back then.

    I still have a soft spot for this generation Subarus, especially the wagons. But a friend on college had an XT6, and that was a spaceship dreamy ride.

    I’ve moved on to minivans…

    Like 2
  11. Jeff Mitchell

    Must say I had one of these for a number of years Mine was the UK version and also auto. She had some unusual quirks. Normal driving was 2 wheel drive but if it rained and you put the wipers on she went into 4wd. Also if you braked hard it did the same also. Clever thinking really if it’s wet you’re better with 4 driving wheels and the same for hard braking. Loved the car. Though noisy lifters on start up.

    • Nigel Utting

      The dual range 4WD system was very useful, especially driving outback unsealed roads. Used to use the full range of gearing all the time when travelling the back roads.

  12. Nigel Utting

    An Aussie here. Had two of these “L” Series 4WD, as they were known here. First one met an untimely end getting stolen and burnt, second one, a 91 model had for 15 years and drove to hell and back. The EA82, while not a performance engine, had good power and torque for long distance driving and was surprisingly capable at towing loaded trailers, even off the black top through mud. Steady cruising at 100kph she would get past 700 kilometers out of a tank. They were simple and robust without all the wizbang crap tech cars are loaded with today, although I did have to install an after market tacho. Old girl made it all around Australia, survived a short (300 Km) trip on the Tanami Track to and from Wolfe Creek (the real one, no Mick Taylors) Aussies know what this hell road is like! She blew the rings at 370, 000 kays and could have been rebuilt but there was too much that needed doing overall so she went to the knackers. Great little car!

  13. Rain man

    I came up with the second place bid on this little gem. i guess turning back the clock will have to wait. If anyone knows of another clean mid 80s Subie , send me the info please and I will owe you one.
    Ray

    Like 1
  14. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this gem sold for $4,310! Very well bought.

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