KIDNEY, ANYONE? Flawless 1980 Subaru BRAT

1980 Subaru BRAT brown03

Subaru has always thought outside the box. Pistons pointing sideways, spare tires under the hood for traction in winter, plaid seating, seats in the bed of a pickup truck, 4WD as an option on all models, a third headlight hidden behind the emblem on the grille. You would think there are arbitrary options throughout the company’s history but in fact they are all features available on one model, the Subaru BRAT. Sans the “cyclops” light, this also happens to be a list of features on a particular 1980 Subaru BRAT found on Craigslist Pittsburgh. 

1980 Subaru BRAT brown02

Subaru launched its quasi-competitor to the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino in 1978, called it the BRAT (Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter) in America or the Brumby in Australia.

1980 Subaru BRAT brown05

At the time the American offerings had rear wheel drive only and toted woefully underpowered 351 and 305 cubic inch engines, but the Subaru offering came with a bulletproof 1.6L EA71 OHV engine. The BRAT made only 68hp, but coming from 1.6 liters (97 cubic inches), it was a hell of a lot more bang for your buck than the 125hp being produced in the El Camino.

Mated to a 4WD transmission and operating as FWD when in 2WD mode, it was more desirable to the layman who was looking for a fun go-around truck that could make it through the snow or some light off roading.

1980 Subaru BRAT brown08

During Subaru USA’s formative years, the company was known for being utilitarian and bare bones, more or less living by the belief of form following function. Upon arrival of the EA71 generation of Subarus in the mid 70s they were equipped with many, often luxurious, options as standard equipment, even on the standard DL models. This BRAT is a top-of-the-line GL model, however, as noted from the quad headlights. The interior shows its top-spec options with an awesome brown plaid interior.

1978 Subaru BRAT jump seat

The Brat also had seating for four, unlike the American options. Yes, the other two seats are in the bed, and they are called “jumpseats” by Subaru. Not only are they in the bed, when the BRAT was first introduced they were advertised as being so comfortable and free of wind that you could read a newspaper back there. This was later confirmed by Subaru USA during a publicity stunt.

The jumpseat idea obviously would not fly on a modern car, and it’s likely that Ralph Nader had a crisis during the seven years these were available. The jumpseats were later discontinued in 1985, 2 years prior to the end of the BRAT outright in the United States.

1980 Subaru BRAT brown11

The Subaru BRAT was a very popular car in it’s time, often used for off roading or as rancher’s work trucks, even Ronald Reagan had one at his ranch. The chassis was getting updated along with the rest of their line throughout the 1980s with the addition of new options and technologies. The engine options also began to vary as time went on, with each engine becoming more powerful, and still being based off the original EA71 68 HP 1.6L flat 4. With EA81 in 1981, they raised displacement to 1.8L making 73 HP while still retaining the pushrod OHV design of the heads, in time adding their first ever turbocharged option to this engine and bumping power to 95 HP.

With only 15,80o miles This BRAT is among the cleanest examples in private ownership, likely equal to the white promotional vehicle owned by Subaru USA themselves. It’s also very well equipped, with the optional topper, sought-after factory steel 8-spoke wheels, manual 4WD transmission, that awesome plaid interior, original vinyl graphics on the side, and even the original books in their plastic wrapping. If you’re interested in owning a piece of Subaru history and one of the most fun trucks around, follow the link here to contact the owner. The asking price is $10,500.

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18 Responses to KIDNEY, ANYONE? Flawless 1980 Subaru BRAT

  1. cesariojpn says:

    Crack Pipe.

  2. Canuck MX-5 says:

    Still a shocker that the “Baja” was never called the “Outbrat”.

    • Dave Yuan says:

      Ha! That’s awesome, although I think only geeks would get that name.

      BRAT was one of the cars that made me fall in love w/ Subaru. However, it was the later facelifted version that did it, but nowadays I love these ones as well. This is a beautiful example, gotta love those plaid seats!

    • Randy says:

      Subaru COULD HAVE had a couple of really sweet rides, if they’d followed the formula that worked for the Brat, in both a new Brat, AND the Baja.

      Brat: Outback Sport, cut into a pickup, and jacked up a bit. Probably too small to do a 4-door version.

      Baja: Outback Wagon, cut into a pickup, and jacked up a bit. As-was, it was too CUV-ey, and the cladding seemed to be unpopular. As a 2-door pickup, being the only real compact pickup around, with Subie’s reliability record, I think it would’ve worked. I thought the bed was too small on them to be of much use to real pickup people, and maybe too gimmicky with the into-the-cab extension, and standard hard cover.

  3. Joe says:

    $2,000 tops because its clean. Folks these days think they can command high prices on any old Japanese car. Just because your car is 25 years old or older that doesn’t automatically make your car a classic.

    • Jim-Bob says:

      That may be so for a 4 door sedan, but the BRAT is rather special. Besides that, find another one that hasn’t had the ever loving crap beaten out of it. Even if you do, how much do you think it would cost to restore it to as good a condition as this one is in? A lot more than $10k! I want to say the price is a bit strong, but I don’t think it is all that unreasonable for such a unique vehicle. If I was going to play price cop, I would mark it down to $7,000. However, I do think that at the right auction it could go for more than the asking price too. It’s not a blue chip collectable, but it is still a unique vehicle for less than the price of the cheapest new car you can buy today.

    • Quim Roundy says:

      Blu book is from 1800 low to 25 high but with the low milage and a permottional model, it’s worth that to some one.qmrou dy@

  4. JHMAB2 says:

    I’ve always kind of liked these, but they’ve always been pretty worn out. This one makes me like them. Not at that price though, i wanna see this Cyclops light.

  5. Karl G says:

    $2k? where else you gonna find a car like this? the value is whatever the market will bear.

  6. Bart says:

    Yeah, I think $2000 is undercutting this one. $2000 can buy you a decent used vehicle these days, but this one is rare, clean and has some nice accessories. While I do agree that $10,000 is too much, I could easily see this car sell for $5000-$6500, and deserve it. My only problem with it would be the shit-brown color. 🙂

    • Randy says:

      Aw, no way, man! That brown is SO representative of the period, like that beige Accord Bring A Trailer had some time ago, or all those Forest-Green Celicas, or the pea-green GM used in the ’70s (thinkin’ of Dad’s ’75 LeSabre – you know the shade).

      . . . and you GOTTA be tired of red. Red E-V-E-R-Y damn thing…

      A good going-over with some Nu-Finish (careful ’round the graphics!), and you’re ready to cruise!

  7. Randy says:

    I’d do it. Maybe not 10, but probably 8+.

    It’s in Butler County, PA, I’m surprised to see ANY old Subie in PA anymore, with our road salt.

    Since they’re selling it as an antique, it’s in its own area for value. Nobody’s going to pay that and beat it into the ground – hopefully.

    As I recall, Antique-titled vehicles are limited to something like 5,000 miles/yr, can only be driven during daylight hours, unless returning from a show/parade/event, and there are probably other restrictions, as well.

  8. Randy says:

    I really hadn’t thought about it, but looking at the grille: Is Nissan copying 30+ year-old Subaru design on that chrome emblem-surround, or was Subaru SO advanced they copied Nissan NOW, and travelled back in time to apply it to their design?

  9. Peter says:

    All that great history but no mention of the chicken tax? The real reason for the jumpseats was so they could call it a passenger car instead of a light truck and beat the import tariffs on light trucks.

  10. Scott says:

    A gen 2 (low milage original) sold for $14K just a few years ago. There was a “redone” BRAT on eBay that went for $8K. This is easily worth $10K for the person who wants to relive their youth.

  11. Richard says:

    Not to mention they handle very well. Cruise speeds at 60-70 m.p.h. AND get 35+ m.p.g.!!

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