Based on the Leone, the Brat was commissioned by the president of Subaru’s American division who saw a market for a small, four-wheel drive pickup that was smaller and cheaper than the Chevrolet El Camino and other small trucks like the Isuzu P’up and the Chevrolet LUV. It was gradually sold in a wide array of global markets but it was never distributed in its home country of Japan.
Examples sold in the United States were fitted with a set of rear-facing jump seats in the bed in order to circumvent the notorious Chicken Tax that applied – and still applies – to imported commercial vehicles. Over two generations, the Brat was offered with a 1.6-liter flat-four and both a naturally-aspirated and a turbocharged variant of a 1.8-liter flat-four. Power was sent to all four wheels via a standard manual transmission or an optional automatic unit.
Like all Subarus of the era, Brats suffered from fairly extensive rust problems and many of them were terminally rotted by the time they celebrated their tenth birthday. A good portion of them saw their life span shortened considerably by owners who used them as work trucks and performed little in the way of maintenance.
Today, Brats are worth more than their sedan and wagon counterparts but their value is still relatively low and they are largely sought after by true Subaru enthusiasts. Is the half truck, half car Subaru Brat a future classic?