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Modern Classic: Subaru BRAT

May 17, 2011 Modern Classics 4 Comments
5228  650x600 1974 subaru brat 2 Modern Classic: Subaru BRAT

When the first Subarus came off the dock in the 1960’s, no one expected the brand to make a significant impact on the American car culture. During its years in the U.S. market, however, Subaru has sold some of the most odd and interesting sedans, wagons, coupes, and crossovers. In 1977 Subaru presented one of their most interesting vehicles, the Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter, also known as BRAT.

The BRAT was introduced into the U.S. market in 1977 as a 1978 model. The car was based on Subaru’s Leone 4WD compact station wagon. Powering the BRAT was a 1.6L EA-71 H4 engine producing 67 horsepower, connected to the wheels via four speed manual transmission. The BRAT was equipped with a part-time 4WD system that could be shifted on the fly. Interestingly, the bed was decked out with bolted-in jump seats and carpet. The reason for that was to circumvent a tariff known as the Chicken Tax. If Subaru was to bring in the BRAT as a truck, they would get hit with a 25% tariff on each vehicle. By having a carpeted bed and jump seats, Subaru could classify it as a passenger vehicle and pay only a 2.5% tariff on each vehicle. The present example of such tariff avoidance is the Ford Transit Connect.

5229  317x300 1974 subaru brat 3 Modern Classic: Subaru BRAT 5230  317x300 1974 subaru brat 4 Modern Classic: Subaru BRAT

In 1981, Subaru upgraded the 1.6L to a 1.8L EA-71 H4 which increased horsepower to 73. The part-time 4WD system was given a new dual range transfer case. The BRAT was redesigned in 1982, sharing sheet metal with the Leone compact car. A turbocharged version of the 1.8L was offered in 1983 which increased the horsepower to 94 and came with option of a 3-speed automatic transmission. The turbo option would only last until the 1985 model year. Also, 1985 would see the jump seats going away due to roll-over safety concerns. Two years later, the BRAT bid farewell.

5227  340x400 1974 subaru brat 1 Modern Classic: Subaru BRAT

Finding a decent Subaru BRAT today is not an easy task. The enemy of BRAT is rust, creeping into body panels and causing the body to weaken. Rust free models can be found however, such as this 1986 Subaru BRAT. The car has 127,400 miles and the body is straight as arrow. The paint however is in pretty poor condition. The seller states that the previous owner tried to paint the truck but did a poor job and strongly advises on a repaint of the BRAT.

Otherwise, the vehicle seems solid mechanically with many parts replaced. Very few BRATs had the factory t-tops, making this an even rarer species. The seller has also added lights to the roll bar, replaced the front seats, and threw in a new radio.

With rust not being an issue, and everything else is rather simple to fix or replace, this maybe the one to get. Fun, goes anywhere, lightweight means it that even with less than 100-hp it can get around just fine. This BRAT is located in Virginia and currently the bid stands at approximately $3300.00 with the reserve not met. Click the link for more pictures and details.


Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. Jason Hagey says:

    If 100,000 people comment on this blog, Subaru brings back the BRAT

  2. Kamil Kaluski says:


  3. Scott says:

    Does it need to be 100,000 different people with verifiable e-mail addresses?

  4. Kamil Kaluski says:

    Please… I think all we need is 100 people from CO and another 100 from New England, Subaru’s largest markets and we’ll be set. They just have to do it right, not half-assed like that Legacy 4-door pickup thing, whatever it’s called. This country needs a small pickup truck.

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