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Clean First Gen: 1979 Subaru Brat

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The Subaru Brat is a perennial favorite for those of us who appreciate oddball Japanese cars, but finding one that hasn’t succumbed to the tin worm or been worked to death is a challenging assignment. Fortunately, this first-generation 1979 Brat here on eBay led a quiet life on a boy scout camp with its original owner before finding its way into the seller’s hands, and was routinely garaged for the winter months. There’s a starting bid of $4,500 with no reserve listed, and the Brat is available in Winchester, Virginia. 

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The Brat’s overall condition is just above driver grade, in my opinion, with a minty fresh interior featuring un-torn seats and clean carpets. The seller says it came with A/C from new, which was originally installed by the selling dealer. Although it’s not working currently, it’d be worth resuscitating so as to make this Brat enjoyable in every season. However, given the impressive, nearly rust-free condition, I would likely keep it sheltered during the winter months. All controls work and the Citizens clock still keeps perfect time.

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You’ll notice that the trademark jump seats are not in the bed, but they are included. The seller notes that he does not have the original mounting brackets, so you’ll need to fabricate some hardware or find an original set if you wish to re-install. I wonder how many kids got to bounce around the back of the Brat as they rode around the campgrounds unconstrained by anything other than gravity! According to the seller, the Brat’s 4WD system still engages as intended and it has recently received new front brakes and a valve cover gasket.

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The only rust to speak of is limited to a few small areas, including under the accelerator pedal and on the passenger-side floor. There are a few isolated spots of surface rust, but overall, this Brat’s body is quite healthy. It was repainted at one point, so that isn’t original paint. With so many of these cars long since removed from the roads and rusted into oblivion, finding a clean, early-model is a score for anyone who’s been hunting for Subaru’s version of the El Camino. As a fun project or a classic errand runner, the Brat is tough to beat. Have you ever ridden in the back of a Brat?


  1. Tony Goodner

    Kids today will never know the feeling of those “oh, crap!!” Handles. But it was tough on the trails to fishing holes. Great find!

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  2. Mr. TKD

    I’ve always liked Subarus of this era. This looks like it would be a great one to have.

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  3. CelestialGryphon

    F#$% yeah jump seats! A brat with jump seats and a turbo engine would be the only car I’d trade my new project car for. Yes, I know, no profanity. I love these cars though!

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  4. Matt B

    Less than an hour from me…so very tempting. I miss my 1986 Brat way too much. :( I am tempted to take a look though but don’t want to waste his time.

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  5. John B

    Bi-drive Recreational All Terrain…what an acronym! I heard they had to install those jump seats to get around import duties on light trucks.

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  6. Andrew

    I don’t think you would be allowed to ride in the back on those seats in Canada anymore, certainly not without a safety harness at least. Looks fun until one get launched going over a railroad crossing.

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  7. John B

    Definitely one that must be checked out first in person…paint looks a bit gooey and the car seems to have been bumped in the front and rear?

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  8. Steve

    I remember when those Brats were introduced. Never like the name! Was not a fan then, not a fan now. Interesting though, to look back and recall those days, and those very odd seats that were mounted in the pickup bed. Every once in a while you’d see a couple of kids sitting in the back in one… they’d sometimes make faces at you while driving or stopped at a light. Definitely a time trip for sure!

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  9. Howard A Member

    I always thought this made a perfect vehicle. 4×4 pickup that didn’t use 20 gallons a day. Trouble was, as with most 4×4’s, they were relegated to winter driving, and they disappeared. Quickly. The rear seats were included, like John sez, so they could be registered as a car. ( more seats than cargo area) It’s a shame they used such crappy metal, these were a great concept. Can’t be many like this around. Great find.

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    • John B

      Such an odd little “truck” eh? The acronym name was too cool. I had to laugh when I saw the spare tire sitting on that flat-four motor! I rode in the back of one long ago on those unpadded seats, my spine and bladder have not forgiven me yet…

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  10. Lyle

    Loved my BRAT. Drove an ’80 in high school and college. My friends loved the jump seats. Yes, mine did have seat beltsback there. Really miss that car. Traded it for an 86 subaru wagon when I graduated college. Sigh.

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  11. Owlmirror

    Very nice! I’m restoring a 1979 Brat myself. Quite the challenge finding replacement parts.

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