Turbo Traction: 1984 Subaru Brat

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Among the wide selection of Japanese wierdness that has graced our shores, the Subaru Brat remains one of my favorites. Part El Camino, part Subaru Loyale and all of it an answer to a question nobody asked, the Brat today remains an appealing choice for camping, hauling, off-roading and annoying neighbors everywhere. This 1984 Brat here on eBay is a rare turbocharged edition, and sports a desirable OEM camper shell along with its must-have bodyside graphics. 

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Not much is said about this Brat, other than it’s been idle since 2005 and resting in the Virginia woods for who knows how long. The interior looks quite….funky, and not in the Saturday Night Fever sense. The automatic is to be expected given it came standard on the turbocharged models. Whether that’s mud or mold coating the insides is to be determined, but I’d count on a mixture of both – which would be acceptable if the Brat isn’t rusty.

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Believe it or not, there are pieces on here a Brat enthusiast would love to own. The OEM camper shell is a rare find (though I know of one hiding in Vermont) and you can be sure those side-view mirrors with “Turbo” wording are all but extinct. The bodyside graphics have survived in surprisingly decent condition, possibly indicating this Brat lived inside up until not too long ago. The seller does refer to it as a barn find and has a number of other projects for sale – perhaps he lost his storage arrangement?

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T-tops! Pickup bed! Jumpseats! Turbo! The descriptors never end for this Brat, which deserves to be brought back to life with a transmission swap, some knobby tires and unequal length headers to release that awesome turbocharged Subaru noise. This would be a blast to mess with the WRX fanboys who wouldn’t see you coming with their giant rear wings in the way. But with two of your buddies strapped in back and flipping them the bird, they’d sure know when you blew past them.

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  1. yaug

    But does it have a subframe is the big question

    Like 1
    • Rob

      Unibody construction

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    Looks pretty roached to me but you can’t see if there is any rust. It could be cool but how hard are parts to get?

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  3. grenade

    Always wanted one. I love the jump seats in the back. When I was a kid, I thought these were toys! Now I realize, they are. Somebody save this thing.

    Like 1
  4. bob

    my gut feeling is that this isn’t too rusty

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  5. American_Badaz

    I had an 80 and an 84. I would love to have another one, but this one seems a little too sketchy for me. I do still have a camper shell for a gen 2 like this one.

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  6. Nova Scotian

    I like it. Very fun machine to bounce around town in…you’d be gettin a lot of stares, finger pointers, and questions…pretty rare fuel efficient beast. I like it because of its style. I hope someone repairs it to roadworthy condition.

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  7. HoA Howard AMember

    ” Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter”. ( or a “Brumby” in Australia) Sounds like a mouthful for a vehicle that was never sold in Japan. The seats in the back were a loophole in the rules, and classified this as a car, instead of a truck. Most people took the rear seats out, for more room. I’d think the camper shell, while a worthy option, would hinder rear passengers head room, not that I’d want to ride back there, anyway. The concept was great, although, again with the turbo. Not sure a turbo was necessary on a vehicle like this, but it may have helped sell these. (Turbo’s were big in the 80’s) I always thought these were cool little trucks, but like all other 4 wheel drives, most were run in the winter, and rusted to bits. The ‘Ol Gipper ( President Reagan) had a Subaru Brat on his ranch in Cal. at a time when he got a lot of flak for having a foreign car, but he loved it. They sold a bunch, so I’m sure clean ones are still around ( mostly southern climates) I’d probably pass on this. Not one listed on Hemmings ( my kind of “go to site” to check availability) so I bet they’re rare. Personally, I’d let it sit. ( btw, I wouldn’t flip the bird to ANYONE nowadays. Good way to get shot)

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  8. Matt B

    I had an ’86 that I parted with a few years ago. Bought in Miami and I found it in Key West sitting under a tree with just over 100k on the odometer. Drove it a few hours home, new tires, fixed the a/c and used it for a commuter car for several years. I’ve had about a dozen of the old OHC Subarus from 1980 to 1985, they’re my favorites.

    This would go well with the two Subarus in my house now! I still have an original Subaru Turbo gold badge that went on these cars too. Link sent to my wife already!

    I’ve built a few of these and the parts are readily available. These were the first fuel injected Subarus until they went that way with most models after 1986. I’ll be happy to answer any questions and to live vicariously through the new owner if my wife vetoes it.

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    • Troy W.

      Wanna part with that TURBO badge? Need one for my turbo brat.

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  9. charlieMember

    BUT not good in a rollover, very fragile post/roof structure compared with other vehicles of the day. If I had one an aftermarket roll bar would be a good addition. But, do as I say, not as I do, I drive an Allante soft top where the windshield frame is all there is to protect me.

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  10. Charles

    FUNKY! Would be great to get running again. Would be a big draw at car shows. Really not in bad condition as long as there is not a lot of hidden rust. Nothing is said about the condition of the engine or transmission. Maybe just some TLC……

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  11. Andrew

    There are still quite a few of them driving around in Australia under the name ‘Brumby’ and they never came with the jump seats there due to stringent laws. These were cool and reliable indeed. I wish the Volkswagen Saveiro or Fiat Strada was avaible here also. Most of us don’t need a large truck, but I could use one for the odd bag of peat-moss, etc.

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  12. Doug Towsley

    This one is MISSING the Jump seats, and Seller has them but wants extra for them. so again NOT INCLUDED IN SALE. I remember these well, cool little concepts, but most people i know did NOT like working on them. But they had their fans. Used to see them all over, and the rear jump seats were very popular to try and get. I got a set still sitting here. Ran them in my Chevy Luv, and my 65 GMC currently in my storage barn. (NOPE NOT FOR SALE) But super rare these days. I bet a nice set of the seats would command some cash today. (i am not sure they are legal in many states).
    I have no opinion on the value of this one but i would tend to think the canopy is a cool bonus,

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    • Andrew

      You know, if you don’t sell stuff while there’s a market or need for them, you might be stuck with them for the rest of your life. Eventually those seats outlast the trucks available, or laws. I don’t think you’re allowed to ride in the back of trucks anymore these days for safety reasons.

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  13. Doug Towsley

    You are 100% correct Andrew. And I have had/have a bit of a problem as a Motorcycle and car hoarder but working on it. As my friends say,,(My wife points out NOT HELPING) Its not a problem because its all cool stuff, Not like i am saving garbage. But I am downsizing and made great progress.
    However I will ALWAYS have some sort of pickups, and also considering using the Suburu seats in one of my Rat rod prewar coupes (Tons of room back there) So, i will always have a use for them. We also have a vacation property and a golf cart and most residents there use golf carts instead of cars. My wife pointed out we could use the jump seats the other day on the back of the golf cart. So no reason to get rid of them unlike some of my other projects realistically Ill never get time for.

    But again, your point is very valid. I held onto some old car bumpers for muscle cars and now they are repopped cheap. They are no longer valuable like they were. Some people prefer the originals and will pay, and just sold them all off but they are not worth the money they once were.

    But just for reference. I looked on ebay and did a current listing search and completed items search. NO SUBURU jump seats in the last 90 days. So no reference on comparables on feebay. I did a search on CL for Oregon and Washington. Found 2 listings. Both in Washington so one set at $150 for a pair of seats
    See: https://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/pts/5473992178.html

    and another listing at $300. See:

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  14. Ed Willaims

    Back in the 1970’s when I lived in Simi Valley, Ca. one of my neighbors way down the block had a Suburu Brat. It had no accessory top on it but it DID have the jump seats.

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  15. BMW/Tundra guy

    I love these!! There is a dealership near Loveland CO that has an original, one owner, low mileage, sitting as is,in their showroom. It has NOT been beautified other than a good s rubbing and looks cool!! If I remember correctly it’s not for sale. If I had not just purchased a restoration project, I would DEFINATELY be a contender, provided the rust is negligible. I agree that the auto would need to go, find a four or five speed and let that Turbo do its thing!!

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  16. TC

    I remember when Dominos Pizza used a fleet of Brats to deliver pizzas in New England area. Anyone else remember this? Had to be early to mid 80’s.

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  17. 433jeff

    Its actually part el camino and part subaru gl this is nothing like the loyale. Nothing is like the gen 2, no timing belt, gimme a 83-84 wagon, i drive a dual range 86 wagon, nothing like a dual ranger in the snow. Had a turbo and it really pulled, don’t forget this is lighter than the legacy.holding my breath for the EE20

    Like 0

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