Subaru BRAT

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Subaru BRAT
Subaru 1800 MV 4WD 1992 (14407287694).jpg
1992 Subaru MV
Also called
  • Subaru 284
  • Subaru Brumby
  • Subaru Shifter
  • Subaru MV
  • Subaru Targa
  • Subaru Pickup
Production1978 – 1994
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe utility
RelatedSubaru Leone
Wheelbase2,456 mm (96.7 in)
Length4,424 mm (174.2 in)
Width1,620 mm (63.8 in)
Height1,415 mm (55.7 in)
Curb weight1,000 kg (2,205 lb)
SuccessorSubaru Baja

The Subaru BRAT, short for "Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter", known outside Canada and the United States as the 284 in the United Kingdom, Brumby in Australia, and Shifter, MV, or Targa in other markets, is a light duty, four-wheel drive coupé utility,[1][2] sold from 1978 to 1994. It was an export-only model, never being officially sold in Japan. Due to this, the BRAT became a popular grey import vehicle in Japan.


Developed in Japan in 1977 at the request of the President of Subaru of America, the BRAT was introduced to match the demand for small trucks in the USA, from Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda. Unlike these trucks, all BRATs had four-wheel drive, being developed from the existing Leone station wagon.[2]

Subaru Brat (pre-facelift)

It has other features such as an 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.

When the Leone was redesigned in 1979 for the 1980 model year the BRAT continued with the original body until 1982.[1]

In 1987 imports to North America ceased, but exports to Europe, Australia, Latin America and New Zealand continued until 1994.

Due to truncating demand of pickup trucks since late 1970s as Japanese customers shifted to station wagons at that time, Subaru never considered marketing the BRAT in their home market.


Subaru BRAT rear jumpseats

The USA and Canada's version also had carpeting and welded-in rear-facing jumpseats in the cargo area. These were a tariff-avoidance ploy,[3][4][5] with the plastic seats in the cargo bed allowing Subaru to classify the BRAT as a passenger car - charged only a 2.5%, compared to 25% tariff on light trucks due to Chicken tax. They were discontinued after the 1986 model year.


1978 Subaru Brumby (Australia)

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.

Notable owners[edit]

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.[6]

Appearances in media[edit]

A 1985 BRAT, decorated in the Stars and Stripes, was owned by Joy in the television show My Name Is Earl.[7]

In Haim Saban and Andy Heyward's 1st ever live action/animated cartoon series Kidd Video, Whiz owned a 1984 BRAT, which transformed into The Kiddmobile (a hovercraft and submarine) after the band entered the cartoon realm called The Flipside.

In the movie Napoleon Dynamite, the character Rex drove a 1982 BRAT.

In the Achewood universe, a 1982 BRAT is given to every soul that enters hell.[8]

The 1980 model is available in several of the Forza racing games.[9][10][11]

Freddie Flintoff chose a BRAT during an electric vehicle challenge on Top Gear series 27. Unlike the other vehicles, Flintoff kept the petrol engine in situ as well as installing a Tesla powerplant.

In "Alaska: The Last Frontier," Season 6 Episode 13, Eivin Kilcher rebuilds a Subaru BRAT for his brother, August.[12]


  1. ^ a b James M. Flammang (1994). Standard Catalog of Imported Cars, 1946-1990. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. p. 589. ISBN 0-87341-158-7.
  2. ^ a b 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
  3. ^ Dwayne Bray (June 20, 1995). "Jury Selection Begins in Negligence Trial Over Crash of Subaru Brat". LA Times.
  4. ^ Paul Elias (September 21, 1995). "Man Paralyzed in Accident Awarded $1.7 Million by Jury". LA Times.
  5. ^ Todd C. Frankel (July 6, 2018). "The strange case of Ford's attempt to avoid the 'chicken tax'". Washington Post.
  6. ^ "The Presidential BRAT", Drive – The Magazine from Subaru, Winter 2009
  7. ^ "1985 Subaru BRAT Pickup - W223 - Indianapolis 2010 - Mecum Auctions". Mecum Auctions. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  8. ^ Onstad, Chris. "Achewood § December 1, 2003". Achewood. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  9. ^ Forza Horizon 2 official website - Forza net(01/22/2020)
  10. ^ Forza Motorsport 6 official website -
  11. ^ Subaru BRAT - Forza Horizon 3(01/22/2020)
  12. ^ [

External links[edit]