Junkyard Find: 1979 Subaru BRAT

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Michael Peerson Michael Peerson on May 22, 2012

    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 :)

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on May 23, 2012

    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!

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Supporting EVs is supporting Chi-nah.
  • Eliyahu Oh, a nicer looking 2025 Camry!
  • Analoggrotto Sell Canada to Mexico.
  • MaintenanceCosts Just here to say thanks for the gorgeous picture of Vancouver, which may be my favorite city in the world.
  • TheMrFreeze I don't doubt that trying to manage a company like Stellantis that's made up of so many disparate automakers is a challenge, but Tavares asking for so much money is simply bad form. With the recent UAW strike and the industry still in turmoil, now is not the time. And as somebody with a driveway full of FCA products, I'd just like to say how much I miss Sergio and FCA. At least with him Chrysler and Dodge stood a chance of long term survival...