The Subaru BRAT was
manufactured by Subaru
from 1977 to 1993. It was a
compact coupe utility pickup
designed to rival the Ford
Ranchero and Chevrolet El
Camino. It enjoyed brief
popularity as the market
for mini-pickup trucks
began to take hold in the
late 1970s and early ’80s.
Although discontinued as a
U.S. import in 1987, it
remained a steady seller as
the Brumby in Australia and
the Shifter in Europe.
1. Origins
The BRAT has
garnered a small,
but loyal
The BRAT, which
stands for “Bi-
Recreational All-
Transporter,” is
a Subaru Leone
converted to a
pickup. The
Leone debuted in
1971 as a front-
wheel coupe, with
the four-wheel
drive station
wagon introduced
a year later. Its
design was
influenced by
partnership with
Nissan, which
began in 1968,
and is reflected
in several
Subaru offerings
with a long hood
and short rear-
end. Subaru
broke new
ground by
offering a four-
wheel drive car,
and considered a
passenger car-
based pickup a
2. Specifications
The BRAT was
known as the
Brumby in
The 1985 BRAT
sits on a short
wheelbase and
measures 174.2
inches in length,
64.4 inches wide
and 56.3 inches
tall. Its ground
clearance is a
generous 8.3
inches and the
fuel tank carries
14.5 gallons. It
came in 11
factory colors
ranging from
black and Twilight
Blue to Mica Red
and Spice Brown.
3. Under the Hood
The BRAT’s
spare tire is
located in the
Early BRATs were
powered by a
1.6-liter 4-
cylinder engine
with the 1981 and
later models
powered by a
1.8-liter engine.
In 1983-84, an
optional 1.8-liter
version was
offered that
generated 94
were the 4-
speed manual
and a 3-speed
automatic, which
was equipped
with a push
button to switch
to 4-wheel drive.
4. Features
The BRAT came in
the DL and GL trim
levels. The DL
featured a single
set of headlamps,
while the higher
level GL sported
quad headlamps.
Otherwise, the
two models were
identical. The
most prominent
feature of the
models were the
pair of hard
plastic jumpseats
in the rear that
discontinued due
to safety
concerns. The
spare tire was
located in the
5. Presidential
Reagan’s 1978
BRAT with camper
President Ronald
Reagan owned a
1978 BRAT to
traverse his
688-acre ranch
near Santa
Barbara. The
BRAT was sold in
1998 and the
ranch was
donated to the
Young America’s
Foundation. The
vehicle ended up
on eBay in 2004,
but was
purchased by the
Young America’s
Foundation in
2005 and is now
part of the
Reagan exhibit.
BRAT’s offspring,
the 2005 Subaru
Baja, fell short of
In 2002, Subaru
brought back the
developing the
Baja based on
the Outback
model. Yet the
“Son of BRAT”
was only
produced from
2003 to 2006.
What seemed like
a good idea at
the time was
torpedoed with
styling that was
too much
passenger car
and very little of
the expected
rugged pickup.
Further, the
cargo box
featured a
midgate that
allowed the front
box wall and rear
cabin seat to fold
down to allow
extra bed space.
But the cab
window remained
fixed, limiting
what could be
placed in the
longer bed.
7. Production
From 1977 to
1987, Subaru
sold 92,445
BRATS in North
America, while
only 30,000 of
BRAT’s offspring,
the Baja, were
sold. The vehicle
was never sold
in Japan.


3,805 thoughts on “SUBARU 284 MV BRAT PICK UP

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