|Also called||Subaru 284
|Assembly||Ōta, Gunma, Japan and Waitara, New Zealand (until 1987)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupe utility|
|Engine||1.6 L EA-71 H4
1.8 L EA-81 H4
The Subaru BRAT (an acronym for Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter) is a coupé utility version of the Subaru Leone, built from the late 1970s into the early 1990s. Developed in Japan during 1977 at the request of the President of Subaru of America, the BRAT was designed on the basis of the company's four-wheel drive "Leone" station wagon. It was first introduced in 1977 for the 1978 model year and followed the concept of the Chevrolet El Camino and the Ford Ranchero.
US versions also had carpeting and welded-in rear-facing jumpseats in the cargo area—serving actually to circumvent a tariff known as the Chicken tax. Although the BRAT could fairly be called a truck, the plastic seats in the cargo bed allowed Subaru to classify the BRAT as a passenger car. This both left little cargo space, and it also caused a few fatalities and serious injuries in accidents. Now you can buy seats to go in the cargo area, but these are much safer as they have five-point seat belts. Passenger cars imported into the US were charged only a 2.5% tariff, compared to 25% on light trucks.
When the Leone was redesigned in 1979 (for the 1980 model year), the BRAT continued to use the old bodywork for another couple of years.
The BRAT was restyled in 1982 and the jumpseats were discontinued after the 1985 model year. The Brat had a number of interesting features like optional T-top split roof, a spring loaded hidden door for a side step into the cargo bed, and a spare tire mounted under the hood which necessitated an oval shaped air intake breather. The BRAT was introduced with a rise in popularity of small trucks being sold in the USA, primarily from Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda. Production continued into 1993 but ceased to be imported to North America in 1987. It was also known as the Brumby in Australia and the Subaru 284 in the UK. Imports to Europe, Australia, Latin America, and New Zealand continued until 1994. The BRAT was not sold in Japan and was manufactured for export markets.
All BRATs had four-wheel drive and the Subaru EA engine. Early models received the 1.6 litre EA-71 whereas 1981 and later models received a 1.8 litre EA-81 engine. 1983 and 1984 models could be purchased with an optional 94 hp (70 kW) turbocharged engine. Manual transmissions were standard on all models and an automatic transmission was available on turbocharged BRATs. 1980 and earlier models had a single-range transfer case, while 1981 and later GL models had a dual range transfer case (DLs still had single range) and all turbocharged models were equipped with an automatic transmission with a single range, push-button four-wheel drive.
President Ronald Reagan owned a 1978 BRAT until 1998, which he kept at his ranch near Santa Barbara, California. The vehicle has since been restored and returned to the ranch, which is now owned by the Young America's Foundation.
In the television show My Name Is Earl, Joy and Darnell Turner drove a 1985 BRAT.
- James M. Flammang (1994). Standard Catalog of Imported Cars, 1946-1990. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. p. 589. ISBN 0-87341-158-7.
- ワールド・カー・ガイド28: スバル [World Car Guide #28: Subaru] (in Japanese), Tokyo, Japan: Neko Publishing, 1998, p. 71, ISBN 978-4-873661-73-5
- Dwayne Bray (June 20, 1995). "Jury Selection Begins in Negligence Trial Over Crash of Subaru Brat". LA Times.
- Paul Elias (September 21, 1995). "Man Paralyzed in Accident Awarded $1.7 Million by Jury". LA Times.
- "The Presidential BRAT", Drive – The Magazine from Subaru, Winter 2009
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