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Jump Seats Included: 1978 Subaru BRAT

As a first-year car, this 1978 Subaru BRAT is automatically more desirable to a segment of Subaru fans and collectors. Having retained its original and famous jump seats makes it even better. The seller has this 4×4 project listed here on eBay in North Richland Hills, Texas, just northeast of Fort Worth. There is an unmet opening bid price of $3,500 and no reserve after that and only two days left to get your bids in.

Having already traveled 106,000 miles over the last 42 years, this Subaru BRAT isn’t a low-mile jewel box but despite being shown on a trailer, the seller says that it runs and drives and it’s all original with nothing broken or missing. That mileage works out to only 2,524 miles a year on average which is ridiculously low.

Here they are, the infamous jump seats that helped Subaru to beat back the Chicken Tax in the US. I mean, riding in those seats out in the open like that, what could go wrong? President Johnson (Lyndon, not Andrew) imposed a tax on imported pickup trucks as a response to West Germany and France imposing tariffs on US chicken imports and it became known as the Chicken Tax. It’s more involved than that, of course, but it basically added a tariff of 25% on imported light trucks. Subaru added the jump seats which somehow made the BRAT considered a passenger car, and thus, it was taxed at 2.5% instead. I know, that doesn’t make much sense, does it? Go figure, politics.

A few folks usually comment about the jump seats whenever we show a Subaru BRAT here and now you know that they’re here and looking pretty nice, actually. The seats and other portions of the interior need help but the seller says that there isn’t much rust on this truck/car/cruck so that’s good. There is still rust to deal with as there almost always is on any Subaru older than a decade, unfortunately.

This BRAT may look a little rough around the edges but the seller sure describes it as a winner. They have two sets of wheels and all of the exterior goodies that you see in the photos, plus it has a new gas tank and fuel pump and everything works as it should, even the air-conditioning! No lie. This engine is Subaru’s EA-71, a 1.6L boxer-four which had around 67 horsepower. It runs like a champ according to the seller so this could be a fun winter project. Have any of you owned a BRAT?


  1. Avatar photo RMac

    Yup had a 1980 brat with jump seats in 1984 in st Augustine used to run circles around the big ole Chevy and Ford 4 x4 stuck in the sand on the beach used to make those boys MAD that brat was so light it ran on top of the sand LOL. Now I own a big ram 4X4 and am Rest modding a 85 choo choo el camino but wouldn’t mind another brat to run around in

    Like 2
  2. Avatar photo Christopher Gentry

    Never had one , except the one made by AMT. Always wanted a full size one. Alas I’m just a poor civil servant and will have to keep wanting

    Like 2
  3. Avatar photo Steve McRorie


    Dr Seales, Huxley Environmental College was approached by Subaru to come up with an idea to get around the Chicken tax. Cutting the legs off of fiberglass school chairs, installing seatbelts, and placing them in the bed of the truck turned it into a passenger vehicle. Cheap seats and belts with little value, and that would be removed by the owners was the answer.

    Like 1
  4. Avatar photo Steve Clinton

    Not a looker, but perfect for use on one’s farm for not much chicken feed.

    Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Steve Clinton

    Even in this condition, must better looking than the later models with cladding slathered on!

    Like 1
  6. Avatar photo Bill

    In 1984 with our first child on the way I threatened my wife if her water didn’t break before we left the hose she had to sit in the back. The seats have drain holes.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Steve Clinton


      Like 2
    • Avatar photo Mountainwoodie

      I think the drain holes on this one got plugged up judging by that chunk of floor rusted out. This baby has been sitting in a very humid or damp place…..lots of mold on the seats and plastic parts.

      Maybe the seller couldnt do it, but, wouldnt a little elbow grease have put the truck in a better light?

      I dint see any seat belts for the bed seats :) Not gonna do it!

      Like 1
  7. Avatar photo chrlsful

    “… Go figure, politics….”
    not far off – it’s attorneys (wording, language, english, etc). But most politicians R lawyers anyway, so I nit pick? yeah, a bit.
    Devils in the details? savior? (save the usa auto industry?).

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Bill D

    The initial workaround for the Chicken Tax was shipping the trucks as cab/chassis configurations, and adding the beds once the trucks were Stateside. That’s how we got the Chevy Luv and Ford Courier, which were Isuzu and Mazda products respectively. It’s why sometimes you see “Barn Find” examples of those trucks with the original paint, where the cab and bed appear to be mismatched. The cab and bed were literally assembled and painted on different continents. That loophole was closed around 1980 IIRC.

    Today Ford imports the Transit Connect van from Europe in passenger configuration, then strips out the rear seats and discards them right after the vans leave the dock. Completely wasteful.

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Des

    Ahh memories! My first car I bought was a 1980 BRAT back in ’85 for $1500 from my Uncle. It only had 32K on it and the front fenders were rotted out. I bought new fenders and my Dad did the rest of the body work and we painted it Electric Blue Metallic (86 Camaro IROC blue) I loved that thing because nobody else in school had one and the chicks loved it too. Like RMac said, the big Ford trucks could not do what I could do in sand or on the tight mountain trails. That BRAT had a reputation, and I miss it sooo much. Finding one in good shape is not easy or cheap, but someday I hope to have another on to tool around in.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo walter

      yeah man im 15 and ive got an 84 with 62000 miles. Im planning on making it a baja kinda trucklet but what im really hoping that th chicks STILL like subaru brats!

      Like 1
  10. Avatar photo luckylugnut

    I had an almost new ’78 in perfect condition. I went everywhere that ground clearance would allow to go.
    The motor was so easy to work on, two guys (well, strong and young guys) could lift it straight out.
    I put many miles on mine until one night, I hit a bump in the road and the right rear dropped. When I got it home and looked underneath with a flashlight, I could see that the passenger side swing arm mount had rusted through.
    No saving that, so off to the junkyard it went. I bid it a sad farewell.

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  11. Avatar photo Steve Clinton

    Reading the comments it seems owners loved these little pick-up trucks…er, passenger cars, regardless of the fact that they self-destructed (which must be why you never see them anymore.).

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Des

      Biggest issue was rust. They didn’t have much metal to them. But the engines were tough as hell. A guy near me used to take the engines out of junked ones and sent them overseas to be used as airplane engines.

      Like 1
  12. Avatar photo Christopher Gentry

    They will. You’ll just have to tell em what it is. My 17 year has a 87 volkswagen Cabrolet. Girls love. No idea what it is , but the love it.

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  13. Avatar photo Jaime

    My aunt had one of these! I was a preteen and spent a summer or two being carted around the Blue Ridge Mountains in those jump seats! Great memories!

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  14. Avatar photo MBorst

    That my friend was a fun little pickup to have and difficulty left to the imagination when parking, if you know what I mean. I had a 78 that I got at used price from a dealer friend. The guy had write a bad check for it and it had about 500 miles on when I got it. Also had the heavy front bumper and snow plow ! I only kept it for a year. Ordered me a full size F250 ! Then the big gas crunch came and 85¢ a gal gas ! Should have kept the brat !!

    Like 0

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