Hammer Time: Sonseed

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

My niece and nephew are about to have their B’nai Mitzvah. To call this event a ‘gala’ will be like calling Lillith Fair, “a trite affair with a few left-leaning ladies.” Money will be spent aplenty. Ceremonies that are thousands of years old will be performed and honored, and I will have the best time since last year’s demo derby. Even though I live in Georgia, I love coming back ‘home’, and some cars that were truly authentic for their time still give me that same feeling.


I saw this car at an auction only a half hour away from me. 59,000 miles. An exterior as radiant blue as a Smurf’s cartoon, and a little old lady who barely made a crease on the driver’s side. It was perfect New Jersey Mafia kitsch and I gave more than a passing thought towards tuning it up and driving it from North Georgia to Lawn Guyland. A 70’s three piece suit and a trenchcoat for yours truly along with… well I would really need is my old Jersey accent and a trip to a nearby thrift store.

I grew up in a world where these cars were part kings of the road and part minivan. They seated seven (three front, four rear minus one seatbelt) and commanded the respect of union members and OPEC ministers alike. But then there was the exact opposite. The ever collapsible Honda Civic, the light beer sipping Toyota Corona, and my favorite being the youngest of four… the Subaru Brat.

The Brat, like the Sonseed folks, were so corny as to be authentic. I can still remember the B-R-A-T spelled out next to the driver’s door and a bed that looked like the perfect space and depth for a kid’s playpool. The car was also so small that I could easily imagine myself driving the thing. An idea that was not even a remote thought in that Cadillac. These things were death defying and noisy on the interstates. But around town they exuded this cool, almost sporty dorkiness that 80’s cars seem to bring out. Nissan Pulsar. Toyota Celica. Buick Reatta. All those cars today just seem to be so strange… and yet so fun to revisit at the auctions.

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • Zarba Zarba on Nov 04, 2010

    Ah, memories. We had a 1978 Sedan DeVille, Silver with Gray cloth. 425 CID of Cadillac's downsized V-8. 180 bhp of fury. However, it made gobs of torque and had a transmission that shifted as smoothly as an aluminum siding salesman. The car just oooozed down the freeway, the cruise held a good speed, and the A/C was frosty. A great highway car. My father and I took a trip to visit colleges the summer after my junior year of high school, and the Caddy was the perfect road car for long Interstate slogs. A great time was had by all. I almost stole a Klan rally sign in Alabama, but my dad didn't want to get killed. For $4K, this was a steal. I've always wanted one, but I'm afraid that actually having the car would ruin my memories.

  • Carl Walls Carl Walls on Nov 04, 2010

    Aaaah, BRATs...one of my favorite cars. (Might explain why I went out and bought three of them...) It is true that the bed is a tad small, but the inside is surprisingly big in the Gen 2's. Must be that Halo twin roof that gives them quite a bit of headroom. I feel much more comfortable in my BRAT than in my wife's Grand Prix, I hit my head every time I try to get in that thing. On the other hand, I'm sure passengers might appreciate more room in the BRAT. Anytime I have someone with me, I have to warn them to watch their legs when using reverse. But for a little commuter car to haul me and whatever stuff I need to haul around town, it is just about perfect. Especially with the bed topper to throw extra stuff in the back.

  • MaintenanceCosts "But your author does wonder what the maintenance routine is going to be like on an Italian-German supercar that plays host to a high-revving engine, battery pack, and several electric motors."Probably not much different from the maintenance routine of any other Italian-German supercar with a high-revving engine.
  • 28-Cars-Later "The unions" need to not be the UAW and maybe there's a shot. Maybe.
  • 2manyvettes I had a Cougar of similar vintage that I bought from my late mother in law. It did not suffer the issues mentioned in this article, but being a Minnesota car it did have some weird issues, like a rusted brake line.(!) I do not remember the mileage of the vehicle, but it left my driveway when the transmission started making unwelcome noises. I traded it for a much newer Ford Fusion that served my daughter well until she finished college.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Couple of questions: 1) who will be the service partner for these when Rivian goes Tits Up? 2) What happens with software/operating system support when Rivia goes Tits Up? 3) What happens to the lease when Rivian goes Tits up?
  • Richard I loved these cars, I was blessed to own three. My first a red beauty 86. My second was an 87, 2+2, with digital everything. My third an 87, it had been ridden pretty hard when I got it but it served me well for several years. The first two I loved so much. Unfortunately they had fuel injection issue causing them to basically burst into flames. My son was with me at 10 years old when first one went up. I'm holding no grudges. Nissan gave me 1600$ for first one after jumping thru hoops for 3 years. I didn't bother trying with the second. Just wondering if anyone else had similar experience. I still love those cars.
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