US Ski Team Car: 1985 Subaru GL 4WD Wagon

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Among the more memorable brand promotions of the last few decades was Subaru’s partnership with the U.S. Ski Team. Considering we’re in the height of the one-year delayed summer Olympics, it’s a timely reminder that no matter how short-lived consumers’ attention may be during events like these, major brands will try to find any way possible to cash in on an association with world-class athletes. The big shocker about this 1985 Subaru Loyale 4×4 wagon is that the epic “Official Car” of the U.S. Ski Team graphics have survived in shockingly nice condition. Find the Subaru here on eBay with bidding to $4,000 and the reserve unmet.

Now, like nearly all special editions, Subaru didn’t load these things up with lockers and winches; no, it was your standard-issue Loyale wagon underneath, which is to say it featured a spartan-but-functional cockpit and seriously square design that was all the rage in the 1980s. The Loyale of this generation was a capable snow machine, able to get through the white stuff at levels that would shame some of its truck-based rivals, especially when equipped with snow tires. Of course, like everything Japanese of this vintage, rusting out was likely the biggest threat to a long-term existence; fortunately, this Loyale resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which has obviously treated its sensitive sheetmetal well.

The interior is in decent shape for a car that wasn’t built with high-end materials to begin with. The seat upholstery covering the bucket seats and rear bench looks good, and the door panels even better. The four wheel drive models featured a dual range gearbox, a pretty slick feature for a car on the lower end of the pricing scale. Surprisingly, you’ll find power windows inside, and air conditioning came on many of them; no word on whether it still works here. The Subaru retains its OEM floormats, but an aftermarket radio has been swapped in. Still, the real story is that those sweet U.S. Ski Team graphics haven’t been peeled off, which Subaru was rumored to pull off after the promotion period was over.

The engine bay looks to be the cleanest area on the whole car, with near-perfect on the air cleaner assembly and a factory spare tire still nestled up against the firewall. The mileage is listed as being 200,000, but the seller maintains there are no leaks (not even the headgaskets?) and that all belts have recently been replaced. Overall, for a Subaru collector, this is a trophy piece. While the company did splash the U.S. Ski Team graphics across a few different models, finding any one of them with the graphics still intact is a major find, and I suspect this one will eventually clear its reserve price.

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  1. Mitchell G.Member

    Radwood ready

    Like 2
  2. Vance

    This was about the time I stopped watching the Olympics, it was more fun to hate the Russians than to pretend to like them. Good little car, lousy owners, hopefully the previous folks bathed often and used deodorant. As mentioned, these were not built with quality material’s, and they weren’t a Honda or Toyota. 200k is still 200k, 4k is too much for some nice stickers. 72 76, and 80 were great Olympic years when you supported the country and proudly waved the flag.

    Like 11

    If this was the same car featured here before (I suspect it is) The decals do appear nice. They should. The seller added them to an otherwise normal stock Subie.

    Like 11
  4. qmmq

    The wife had an 89 DL sedan 4×4 when we meet. The spare tire was on top of the motor, under the hood. She drove that car all over NE PA and the car never failed, could not get out of its own way, but would run through 6 inches of snow all day. I wasn’t fan, I was running an 87 Cherokee Laredo at the time, but I gave the car props.

    Like 5
  5. Earl

    This is not an original US Ski Team wagon. It’s just a regular gen 3 with reproduction decals. I know cause I made the decals and there are subtle differences.

    Like 9
  6. That AMC Guy

    This car pre-dates Subaru’s problem with head gaskets. (Not certain, but it may even be a pushrod engine.)

    Like 1
  7. HoA Howard AMember

    These were the cars that really turned a corner for Subaru.Don’t worry, staff, I won’t say what I said LAST time one of these came up,,,uhp, uhp, let’s not go there, but reflect on what great cars these were. They shed the cheap 860/Justy image, and offered an AWD economical wagon, which was unheard of in the states, and they took off. Mostly for suburban dwellers, that needed these and needed good economy to boot, unlike the single digit fuel usage of US 4×4’s. It changed everything in AWD, and probably one of the great success stories of our time,,Subaru. Great find, and as far as graphics, meh,,

    Like 3
  8. 433jeff

    I still drive the dual range a beast in the snow, very capable car even with 13 inch tires, the Puegeot wheels fit for 14-15 inch if you fond a set, the earlier ones had timing gears, no need for 60k failure. The turbo soobs went pretty good even though the puked the head gasket at 90k. Yea 4000$ is to much, although most are soup cans in northeast you can still find good ones if your patient in Oregon colo ect, a great economical cheap car

    Like 2
  9. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking car. Although I was way too young to drive at the time, I remember when Subaru cars looked like this.

    Like 1
  10. chrlsful

    might Ba find fora fella into skiing’n born in the mid 60s.

    Thanks for ur wrk @Earl. Post upa email to get some more business.
    Plenty ideas here (& two mrkts already networked inta).

    Like 0
  11. erik j

    What was that last comment?scratching my head.
    My 2 cents on the subes , love them. Through the years i have had ,at a guess,over 100. Buy them ,drive a bit and sell. on to the next. I have a 90 loyal and a 94 loyal with cooked heads-easy fix.As long you watch your temp. the radiator is very common to get plugged,or a leak starts and you run out of water.Watch the temp and fix it early. The 90 is my daily driver. decent milage and lots of room. The 4×4 works great,only the depth will stop a sube. My best thing is camping in it(if you have a wagon!) put the back seat down,there you go.I bought a loyal with a locked motor. Turned out it had a cyl full of water. drained it and it wound up a great driver. I love subes and i,ve learned to work on them. And my real intrest are 60,s – 80,s muscal cars andtrucks. I,M not sopposed to like these, but they are great!!!!!

    Like 2
  12. t-bone BOB

    Item location:
    Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

    Like 0

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