Nicest BRAT You’ll Find: 1984 Subaru BRAT GL

I know that there are fans of these unusual cars among the Barn Finds circle of friends, and this 1984 Subaru BRAT GL is the nicest one that you’ll find. This thing is nice, and by nice I mean really, really nice. It’s listed on eBay where a few bidders also know how nice it is to find one in this condition and, thus, the bid is already at $7,200! Yes, you saw that correctly, $7,200, and there is still over a day left on the auction! I bet this one will go another thousand or two, or maybe more? This beautiful car is located in equally beautiful Troutville, Virginia.

The only “flaw” that I can see upon first glance is some fading of the graphics on the sides. I’m actually not a big fan of said graphics, which were a $69 option in 1984, but at least they’re original to the car. The rest of the car looks like it’s almost good enough to be plucked from a 1984 Subaru showroom. This car has an interesting feature, a hidden step to get into the back.

Subaru’s BRAT, or Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter, was made by Subaru at the request of Subaru of America’s big cheese to compete with other import trucks, and they’ve turned into somewhat of a cult vehicle over the past couple of decades. I’m currently trying to find a nice Subaru Baja for a winter vehicle; a somewhat similar-but-updated car with four doors and a small pickup-like bed. Seeing a BRAT in this condition is giving me second thoughts that maybe I need one of these instead. Although, this one is too nice to drive on salty, snowy roads, in my opinion. It’s rare to find one in this fantastic, almost rust-free condition and it would be a shame to ruin it by packing a salty, snowy, slushy mess up underneath all of that delicate, Japanese sheet metal and then seeing it turn to dust in a few short years.

The BRAT was a two-passenger vehicle, or, at least there were two seats in the cab. In order to avoid paying the “chicken tax” on import pickups. Subaru added carpeting and two plastic jump seats with handles in the bed which, somehow (not in today’s world!), classified it as a passenger car, thus putting it in a more affordable tax position: 2.5% compared to 25%! You can see the T-Tops here, which supposedly have never been removed and even the gaskets are like new. The seller says that the reason that the rear section is in such great condition is that it had a small camper shell on it so it preserved the whole bed of this mini-truck-car-thingy..  And, the camper shell goes with the sale if the winning bidder wants it! Unfortunately, a flaw on the interior includes two small cracks on the dash. I was hoping that dash pad was there to protect it, but it’s there to cover up the cracks; or maybe both. A $2 sun shield could have probably protected that dash from cracking. bummer. But, if that’s all there is wrong with this interior that’s not bad.

This clean boxer is a 1.8L opposed-four-cylinder Subaru EA-81 with a mere 73 hp, but that 4-speed manual transmission should help to wring every one of those horsies out from under the hood. This car has dealer-installed AC and it works like a charm, which isn’t a surprise since everything else looks so nice on this one. In all fairness, there are flaws with this BRAT and there is even rust that the seller mentions. No major rust compared to the vast majority of these vehicles, but they talk about some rust spots on the left side of the bed and on the bottom of the tailgate, but “nothing major.” I rarely see BRATs come across the pike in this nice condition, most of them are pretty rusty or beat, or they have been modified and lifted and everything in-between. What do you think this one will sell for? $8,000? More?

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Comments

  1. Nova Scotian

    Cool find. I like it. Fun little run about.

  2. Wilhelm Brauer

    We have a 2003 Subaru Baja, which is like a four door Brat. Awesome car. Very solid.

  3. Curtis J Henshaw

    I had one if the last. A 1986 Brat, and loved it.

  4. Jeffro

    I loved these as a kid. Still do.

  5. dave

    The engine is only running on 3 cylinders for whatever reason. Watch the youtube video and listen to it stutter and misfire as he tries to rev the engine. It may just need a tune up but could be something much more costly. That’s BIG BUCKS for a brat. The bidders should know the engine isn’t running right.

    • John

      Good catch. You saved me from wanting this one. As you say, it might just need a tune up but add to that flaking clearcoat from a repaint and suddenly this is not a Brat that I am all that excited about.

  6. Car Nut Seattle

    I remember the Subaru BRAT. Although I was too young at the time to drive a car, I remember liking the car. It was my idea of what a small truck should be.

    Like 1
  7. the one

    It also has a pretty grindie sound, is that a smog pump? Seems to me that is the origin of the noise.
    I’d probly pass

  8. dave

    possibly a bad waterpump.

  9. Rustytech Member

    The only major problem with these (all Subaru’s ) was they were famous for blowing head gaskets. Maybe what’s going on here. Not a total killer, but not cheap, and not something you avg. do it yourselfer is going to handle. This is nice, and they will go just about anywhere.

  10. Rspcharger Rspcharger

    I’ve loved these ever since I had 2 of them as Stompers

    Like 1
  11. erikj

    this is very nice. I had through the years 2 of these and a bunch of gl,s and dl,s. I cant explain it,butI fell in love with the next gen. with the ea 82. I am looking for a loyal and finding it harder to find one that’s decent for a good price. Its amazing how many I find in the wrecking yards that looked very good when they where brought in.

  12. Allan

    I have an ’82 in the back yard. It was almost as nice of a condition when it came out of GA, but then we “ruin it by packing a salty, snowy, slushy mess up underneath all of that delicate, Japanese sheet metal and then seeing it turn to dust in a few short years.”

    We did drive it for a few years though and it was a fun little trucklet. My wife stopped driving it when she got the ’03 Baja. The Brat doesn’t have power steering or A/C, so it has been sitting.

    It never had enough power or cargo space for me to take it seriously as a truck, so I didn’t drive it too much. Although I did get a speeding ticket for going 74mph in it once. I’m proud of that accomplishment.

    It did drive incredibly well in the snow, though. Front wheel drive until you engage the 4wd lever. Also had a 4lo mode. A few bags of Sand in the back and some decent tires for traction and you couldn’t stop it.

    By the way, the T-Tops were called “Fun Tops”. I often remind my wife that she has fun tops… The Cyclops Eye and the Hill Holder were interesting options that our one has installed.

    Like 2
    • Kevin

      Where you at and is yours for sale?

      • Allan

        I’d sell it. I’m 1.5 hours west of Philadelphia, PA.
        Contact me @ a l l a n b e g g @ g m a i l dot c o m if you want more info.

  13. John

    I had an 84 wagon with the white wheels with the chrome rings. What a fun car, especially in the snow. The only option this car is missing it the passing (cyclops) headlight. My wagon had one – I owned it for a year before I figured out what the button on the dash did!

    I would love this little truck, car, ummm. crossover…ummm…Brat!

  14. Car Nut Seattle

    I agree. These were the “crossover” vehicles, before the word was ever coined for such vehicle. Although I was too young to drive at the time, I knew people who did, and I loved them. I’d buy one myself if I could find one in decent condition, preferably original.

  15. dave

    The upper rear shock mounts on the brat are notorious for rusting out. They rust completely through the wheel well. If you look closely at the photos you will see on the front side of the wheel wells in the bed, there are 2 fairly large spots that are rusted right through the wheelwells. The slimy used car dealer has tried to hide this with black spray paint but you can still see the rust. This is not the pristine car that it’s being made out to be. The new owner will be sadly disappointed.

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