My Favorite Ride: One owner 1985 LaSabre Estate Wagon still treasured

Rich and Evalyn Steininger have two Buicks parked side by side in their garage: a fancy 2019 LaCrosse SUV and a well-preserved 1985 LeSabre Estate Wagon.

The first vehicle is a daily driver. The other? A nearly 19-foot-long station wagon that's traveled the country on family summer vacations with destinations from Wyoming to Maine.

Rich Steininger's 1985 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon, from the back
Rich Steininger's 1985 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon, from the back

Rich Steininger has owned four other Buicks in his time, including a shiny black 1939 Buick Century Straight Eight sedan he parted with after 11 years.

But it's the 38-year-old station wagon he bought new from Costin Buick in Plainfield that's caught my attention this week. This is the second in a series of station wagon columns that launched with my own story a few weeks ago about my family's 1968 Pontiac Catalina wagon and a cross-country trip to California and back.

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"Your recent column about vacations in station wagons made me think that you might be interested in the story of my still sharp looking 1985 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon, which I bought new 38 years ago, and still much enjoy today," Steininger said.

The Estate Wagon has a 307-cubic-inch V-8, a four-barrel carburetor and a four-speed transmission with overdrive. It has 142,000 of mostly vacation miles on the odometer and a 1985 Indiana Historic license plate on the backside.

The ID nameplate on Rich Steininger's 1985 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon
The ID nameplate on Rich Steininger's 1985 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon

He ordered the car in the spring of 1985, and it arrived at the Costin dealership on May 5 after a six-week wait while it was being built at the GM production plant in Kansas City.

The final cost, including a $475 destination charge, was $14,637. That's about $41,500 in 2023 dollars. This was a top-of-the-line station wagon that Steininger calls a "real road cruiser."

The dashboard and front seat in Rich Steininger's 1985 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon
The dashboard and front seat in Rich Steininger's 1985 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon

"It was bought with many vacations planned, with comfortable room for our family of four and plenty of space for luggage and gear," he said, describing how the car met the family's needs.

"The LeSabre wagon has road tripped our family across the U.S. from Florida to Yellowstone and from Maine to New Mexico and all states in between."

It also served as a sturdy vehicle in which to learn the skills of driving. "Both of our kids learned to drive in this monster wagon, including parallel parking for driver’s tests."

And when those kids went off to college, the family station wagon took on a new role as an excellent vehicle for football game tailgating at both Indiana and Purdue universities. "It got the attention of the college kids in the 2000s, as they remembered growing up with similar station wagons," Steininger said.

A third generation has been hauled in the car. "Our grandkids in their younger years really enjoyed an outing in the 'Old Station Wagon' and riding in the rear-facing third seat eyeballing motorists driving behind us."

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These days, its the Buick LaCrosse that's out on the road. The station wagon that made vacation memories sits mostly parked, getting "only about 500 miles per year, just cruising and hauling my fishing boat," Steininger said.

"On outings, the LeSabre never fails to garner a compliment and an occasional snapshot," he said, happy that others appreciate a car like his. He's been to a few car shows, where station wagon enthusiasts gather around his well-maintained Buick.

Rich Steininger's 1985 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon
Rich Steininger's 1985 Buick LeSabre Estate Wagon

When Steininger drove the estate wagon to his church's annual car show a few years ago, he took home the coveted "Best All-Original Parishioner Car" award. The trophy is small, but well earned. The car is lovely, even parked between two red Chevrolet Corvettes at the event.

He posted a note on the dash that day: "This car may not be fast, but it's BIG."

Next week: I'll update the 2016 mystery car My Favorite Ride that ran last week about a 1961 Oldsmobile (which is likely a Super 88 and not a Delta). Since more than 10,000 people had read the column the day after it came out, I suspect there may be interest in a follow-up, so stay tuned.

Have a story to tell about a car or truck? Contact My Favorite Ride reporter Laura Lane at or 812-318-5967.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: It's not fast, but it's BIG: All original 1985 LaSabre Estate Wagon