The Subaru BRAT, or "Bi-Drive Recreational All-Terrain Transporter," was a small car-truck crossover with a design somewhat similar to Chevrolet's El Camino. With the size and comfort of a car combined with the utility of a truck, the BRAT filled a relatively untapped market segment. The truck sold in the United States between the 1978 and 1987 model years with a mild styling refresh in 1982. A favorite with Subaru enthusiasts and in the off-roading community, the BRAT still patrols today's roads.
Two main engines powered the BRAT through its 10 years of U.S. sales. Early models received Subaru's 1.6-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine making 67 horsepower. For 1982, displacement enlarged to 1.8-liters, resulting in a modest power increase to 73 horsepower. For 1983 and 1984 only, Subaru offered a turbocharged version of the 1.8-liter flat four, producing a much more sporting 93 horsepower.
The BRAT's lightweight and versatile drivetrain made it a popular choice with both rural buyers and off-roaders. Cars equipped with the four-speed manual transmission ran in front-wheel drive by default, with two four-wheel drive modes selectable including a low-range option appropriate for off-roading. BRATs with the three-speed automatic transmissions also ran in front-wheel drive by default, with a button on the dash calling in four-wheel drive appropriate for low-traction situations.
Exterior and Trim Levels
The BRAT's chief selling point was its ability to offer truck utility in a small, car-like package. In 1985, the vehicle measured just 174.2 inches long, 64.4 inches wide and 56.3 inches tall. Ground clearance was 8.3 inches, whereas wheelbase was 96.7 inches. With the exception of its headlight shape, graphics, trim and some interior touches, the BRAT changed little visually throughout its more than 10-year model run. Subaru offered two trim levels, the DL and GL, the latter being the higher trim with a few upgrades like a dual-range transfer case.
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan was fond of his Subaru BRAT, red with a white Snug-Top camper shell. The truck served duty on Reagan's vacation ranch near Santa Barbara, California. The Reagan ranch sold to the Young America's Foundation who also repurchased Reagan's BRAT for historical purposes. Before delivery, the BRAT was restored to original factory specifications by Subaru. According to Subaru, the Reagan's BRAT is housed in a tack barn at the Reagan Ranch, at the time of publication.
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