Solid Survivor: 1978 Subaru BRAT 4×4

The seller refers to this Subaru BRAT as a 1976 model but 1978 was their first official year on the market so I’m assuming that it was a typo. They don’t give a VIN, unfortunately, so we’ll have to go with it being a 1978 Subaru BRAT and a spectacular one it is. They have it listed here on eBay in Tacoma, Washington and the current bid price is $3,150.

As a first-year BRAT, this is a rare car, especially in this condition. Frankly, I’m surprised to see this car on eBay, it most likely would have brought more money on other websites or auctions. The seller says that it’s original inside and out and the body looks absolutely outstanding, one of the nicest that I’ve ever seen for an original car. The wheels have clearly been painted but the underside looks rock solid. There are a few dings and maybe some rust appearing on the rocker panels but it’s hard to tell from the photos.

It’s unfortunate that the seller doesn’t provide any photos of the interior or the topper/cap/shell on the back. I think I can speak for all global citizens when I say: “WE WANT TO SEE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN THERE!” Sorry for yelling. This one does not have the rear jump seats, unfortunately. The BRAT lasted in the US until 1987 and lived on elsewhere for a few years but strangely, they were never meant for the Japanese market.

The interior looks great with just a couple of issues like some very dirty seat fabric and a few tears in the adjacent vinyl, the turn signal stalk has black tape on it and the steering wheel is fairly checked but it doesn’t look like it’s cracked that I can see. The dash has a couple of minor cracks in it but overall it looks nice inside. And, there’s a CB radio! You probably noticed the gigantic white antenna on the front bumper in the exterior photos.

The clean engine compartment is the home of Subaru’s EA-71, a 1.6L boxer-four with just under 70 horsepower. The seller has removed the spare tire so the engine would be more visible and it’s included with the sale, of course. It runs and drives as perfectly as it looks and this BRAT should be twice this price by now. This will be an absolutely flipper’s delight at anything under $7,500, in my opinion. Any thoughts on this early BRAT?

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  1. Jcs

    These things bring good money, even without the jumpseats. This exposure will drive the price up considerably.

    Like 11
  2. Moondawg00

    What in heck could that thing tow needing a 2″ ball? A kids wagon?

    Like 5
  3. bone

    Somehow I knew this car had to be in the Pacific Northwest ; these (and most imports) didn’t make it out of the mid 1980s on the East Coast

    Like 7
  4. 8banger Member

    I like certain Soobies, and I would take this one and put the body on a late 90s 2.2 chassis.

  5. Mutt

    The only real problem was the lack of wheel clearance. At least the seller removed the spare tire from the engine compartment. They added those horrible plastic seats in the bed as to avoid paying the 25% “Chicken tax” imposed by LBJ back in 1964. Man has Subaru come a long way…

    Like 4
    • Skorzeny

      Another real problem was having to pull the engine just to replace the valve cover gaskets. They would leak onto the exhaust pipes and the cabin would smell of burned oil. Of course, if you times it right you could do the timing belt and the water pump at the same time… I still like Subarus though, but all of this era were totally gutless.

      Like 2
      • JMB#7

        Subaru advanced from leaky valve cover gaskets to leaky head gaskets. But I still like them especially the BRAT.

        Like 1
    • Eric B

      They’ve come a long way…..yet, still refuse to acknowledge and fix their head gasket issues. Controversial cars; I see them with 300k and I also see plenty of classifieds of newer ones (within 10 years) mentioning having new engines or transmissions.

      Like 2
      • luckylugnut

        That’s true about the head gaskets. I own a 2003 Forester that blew a head gasket at about 60K miles. We took it to a local Subaru specialist and he told me once the gaskets are replaced and I think the water pump also, the engine will be good for 300K miles. Ten+ years later with 130K on the clock and it still runs well. Not sure I’ll be keeping it long enough to hit 300K, but we’ll see !

        Like 1
  6. Dave

    Can’t identify the CB radio…it’s not a Cobra, Midland, or Realistic that I recognize. Lot of work to make that antenna mount. I would have used a magnet mount on the roof.
    Rust was tough on early Subaru and Honda cars east of the Mississippi.

  7. luckylugnut

    Boy, this brings back memories. I had one of these back in the day and I drove it everywhere. Always liked how you could kick in the rear wheels by just pulling a lever. I finally had to junk it when the rear swing arm gusset rusted through and I could see no way to repair it. A fun little vehicle that got great gas mileage. I think I still have the passenger seats in the barn..should probably put ’em on eBay and see what they will bring.

    Like 2
  8. Bunky

    A good friend of mine ordered one in July of ‘77. Put $100 down and agreed to take the next available unit. The only out was that he got to choose one color that he wouldn’t accept. It was a blast! Put a canopy on the back, with a custom tent that connected to the back. Riding on the seats in back (with handles to hang on to) was a hoot. Rumble seat for the ‘70s.
    He paid $3800, drove it 2 years and 38k miles, and sold it for the original $3800.

    Like 2
  9. chrlsful

    its doubled at this point, I expect that again B4 done (end in hi teens?). The topper is nice, I like the flatter design more (it had one as well as vedub p/u & 60s ranchero). Nice condition here – one of the 3 or 4 (already mentioned) I’d like along w/the rampage, lill moris minor p/u, etc…

    Like 1
  10. Des

    My first car was a 1980 Brat. (technically a 79 1/2) Same body style as this one but with single headlights. Bought it for $1500 with 32K from my uncle. Put new front fenders on it, did necessary bodywork and painted it a mid 80’s what I called IROC blue. You get the gist… Loved that little rig, and the girls in HS loved it too. Sold it for $1900 about 5 years later. I’d love to have it back again. Ahhhh memories…

  11. Forrest Jolliffe

    The best part of these things is the way the canopies were aptly re-named the Brat Hat!

  12. Des

    Wow. This one sold for $8600. Seems like a bargain.

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