By on May 21, 2012

I find many old Subarus in Colorado wrecking yards. So many, in fact, that I don’t bother to photograph most of them. Usually, it takes an XT or a third-eye-equipped Leone to get my attention. However, a BRAT, no matter how trashed, is a very rare Junkyard Find, and I reach for the camera right away.
The BRAT has a fanatical following, which means that most examples are worth more than scrap value. This ’79 is pretty terrible indeed, which means that even the most devoted BRAT worshipers took one look and passed.
67 not-so-screaming horsepower lived under the ’79 BRAT’s hood. This was considered perfectly adequate for a small pickup during the Malaise Era.
But wait— this is no pickup! In order to circumvent Lyndon Johnson’s Chicken Tax, Subaru threw a couple of seats in the back, using these brackets, and carpeted the bed. That transformed the BRAT into a passenger car! Hardly anybody kept those stunningly dangerous jump seats in place, so you seldom see them today.
You can tell a truly hopeless junkyard vehicle when you see the mark from an engine being stored atop the hood for years prior to getting scrapped. I’ll bet there was a bullet-riddled water heater carcass nearby.

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20 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1979 Subaru BRAT...”


  • avatar
    Conslaw

    These came out when I was 17, and I really wanted a Brat until my dad talked me out of it. He pointed out that this thing was heavier than a midsized car, had a gutless engine, and (even though it was a very small pick-up) it really didn’t deliver very good gas mileage.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    I loved these things. From the engine, to the styling, to the back seats. Everything was wrong, like someone crossed a Pug and a Dachshund. I remember riding in the bed seats while bugs and road debris smacked the back of my head.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    Great little machines. Throw a 3″ lift, and some 19 inch skinny knobbies, and they’ll go anywhere. Gotta have that dual-range gearbox, though. Perhaps that’s why this one never got rescued.

  • avatar
    DubTee1480

    Someone up the street had one of these when I was a kid and I’d see it pass by occasionally. I was fascinated by it.

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    I’ve spotted a BRAT near my house that has the third eye headlight, and has those ridiculous rear facing jump seats. They have pistol grips on each side for anyone crazy enough to actually ride in the back of that thing! I need to snap some photos of it soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike

      I would like to see that photo, we don’t see many BRAT’s in my region, also the rust probably would have gotten to them. I also see by your avatar of a NG 900 being crash/simulated for hitting a moose i presume your a saab fan?

  • avatar
    V572625694

    Didn’t these BRATs come with little squirrel-ear lights above the cab?

    Yes they did:

    http://bringatrailer.com/wp-content/plugins/PostviaEmail/images/1980_Subaru_BRAT_4x4_White_Pickup_for_Sale_Rear_resize.jpg

    Maybe they went away with the suicide seats.

    People in Colorado love their rugged vehicles, and 4WD. Before the unintended exhilaration story on “60 Minutes” the two Audi dealers in Denver traded back and forth being #1 and #2 in the nation. See any 5000 or LS’s in the junk yards?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Great car name with a cult-like following. You really can’t hate the BRAT.

    I miss seeing them around, and forgot there was a time when Subaru didn’t build only boxer engines.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    My uncle put those seats in the rear of his Toyota pickup. They weren’t that bad to ride in and never felt unsafe under the roll bar he had one it. Said roll bar was later put to the test when he happened to have his XL500 in the back. Bike was never touched.

  • avatar

    Being a BRAT lover and still owning two myself. A 78 First Generation and a 83 Second Generation, I have to say they are robust cars to say the least. The 83 and the one before that my 85 had the jumpseats in the back. And I can say this, they really are not that dangerous. I had a accident in the 85 and rolled it over with someone in the back. The T tops did not even crack and there was not even a dent on the roof. Though the always flimsy front fenders on the 2ng gen were a total loss as was the windshield.

    Is there any chance I can get you to go get the strut mounts for me! Both of mine on the 78 are completely trashed.

    As for bad gas millage someone said. Well the 78 (and my 77 and 79 wagons) Get in the upper 20′s bout 27 I would say, and the 83 and 85 get almost 30 on a trip. So really yes they are under powered (third gear at 55 up a hill at 4000 RPM’s) they are small. But off road or in the snow not much can touch them. But there is a cure for the power problem, and it is what I am doing to my 83 now. EJ conversion. 16 years of driving BRAT’s and finally I will be able to go up a hill in 4th :)

  • avatar
    millmech

    Does the second gearshift mean that it has a low range?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I was almost a teen when these came out – God did I love the idea of those jump seats in the back. The adult in me now looks at them and goes, “what the Hell were they thinking???”

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    How are parts for these? I’ve heard of a rumor that Subaru brought some back to “dispose” back in the day.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    A friend of my sisters had one. Super reliable though typical Subaru issues, such as leaky valve covers. The problem with these was the tinworm after a few years they were rot boxes though the T-Tops were always leak proof, a far better design than an F-Body.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Girl in high school was given one of these for her birthday and I remember riding in those rear seats, gripping the rubber handles tightly. BRAT = Bidrive Recreational All Terrain. It was a turtle, but a lot of fun. Hers was rolled over on the Lloyd Harbor causeway. Nobody was hurt…

  • avatar

    Oh I did notice last night as I was on USMB, that the doors of that BRAT now live on in another members car. And some other bits, but I still need that strut mount :)

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Anyone else remember how one of the band members drove one of these in the titles for “Kidd Video” before they were transported to the Flip Side?

    Also, wish there was a picture of the VIN plate on this one. These are rare enough that I don’t have any idea what they look like!


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