Truck Thursday – Subaru Army Brat


Alright, who here doesn’t love the Subaru BRAT coupe utility? The Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter is such a neat-looking concoction of original Subaru 1800 front end and a pickup bed, that it still retains a strong fan base. Unlike in the States, the European versions did without the tax-circumventing bed-mounted jumpseats, which were discontinued in 1985 in the US models as well. The Finnish-imported Subarus did have to have their beds lengthened for some 20 centimeters to comply with our bed length regulations, the same thing as with Volkswagen Caddys.

This Finnish BRAT, named the “Targa Pickup” over here, has gone through a few attractive modifications recently. Check it out.


You instantly notice the matte green paint, which improves the looks a lot. Most of the Pickups here are Eighties Red, and this too has started its life as a red one.

The modifications have probably started as rust removal, but have gone on beyond just welding the car back into better condition. Let me count the things mentioned in the ad:

• Bodywork redone with rockers out of acid-proof steel, structures and beams rust-proofed
• Completely repainted in Syntal AN11
• Hilux/Hiace hubs, tire size 205/65R15c
• Fabricated bull bar with Hella lights
• Fenders bulged 5cm

In addition to these, some wear parts have been replaced, like joint rubbers and the water pump. The headlights are brand new.




Here you can see a seam on the bed’s end; that’s either the bit where the BRAT was originally stretched at import time, or then it’s a legacy from the rust repairs. Call it what you want. It’s a Lapland car, and Japanese cars usually survive better there as they don’t salt the roads too much in Lapland.


This shot shows you how the car’s dimensions have been affected by the longer bed. It kinda looks rear-heavy.



Inside, the seats are in reasonable condition. There is a split on the side plastic on the driver’s side, but otherwise this shot is very revealing: just look at the attention to detail here. The green doesn’t stop when you open the door, but the door jambs and door insides have also been resprayed green. Top job. The engine bay is still red, but one does open the hood a bit less often than the driver door.


I just love these gauges, by the way.

The Subaru is for sale for the reasonable sum of 2000 eur, by the way. The odo reading is pleasantly low and backed by a service book, and the three-owner car looks solid enough to withstand the kind of use its looks convey. Inspection’s been done in Nov 2012, which means all the modifications have been approved at the inspection station. There are a couple of things to fix, as one of the mufflers resonates against the body when you reverse and there’s a clicking CV joint. In addition, the wheels need balancing and the CASSETTE PLAYER DISPLAY IS DEAD. That last bit is almost a deal killer for me, honestly.

See the ad here (mostly in Finnish)

[Source: Nettiauto]

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12 responses to “Truck Thursday – Subaru Army Brat”

  1. muthalovin Avatar

    Needs to be plastered with Zombie Response Vehicle stickers and a light bar.

  2. IronBallsMcG Avatar

    Tasty little nugget.

  3. MVEilenstein Avatar

    I think the red engine bay works with the green and the blue air cover. Nothing wrong with a little original paint showing.

    1. calzonegolem Avatar

      I was more than a little disappointed to see this. It would drive me nuts until I painted it.

  4. Philip Hooker Avatar
    Philip Hooker

    No, no, no! Paint that engine bay… for crying out loud, paint it!

  5. mnm4ever Avatar

    Oh now that is so cool. I have always loved BRATs since high school, a few guys had them and they were perfect beach cruisers with the jump seats in back. Nearly impossible to find in good shape anymore though. I love that paint though, gives me an idea for repainting my CRV.

  6. MattC Avatar

    Do want. I was offered a Brat in reasonable condition back in 2003 but was outbid at the last minute. I regret not getting one. They are much harder to come by now in the Northeast as the tin worm has devoured the majority of these.
    As an aside, President Reagan's ranch in California has a restored Brat that apparently Reagan secretly used as a test mule for Subaru. He kept it private as anti-japanese/import sentiment was prevalent in the early 1980's but it was widely reported by his aides on the ranch that he loved that car.

  7. dukeisduke Avatar

    I think I'd like it better if the rear wheels were pushed back further – with the wheels forward, it reminds me of an A/FX car.
    Also, I remember going to a junkyard back in the late '80s, and they used a BRAT as a runabout to pick up parts around the yard. They had removed the doors, and left the hard plastic jump seats welded in the bed. IIRC, those welded-in jump seats (they included lap belts) were installed to help Subaru avoid the Chicken Tax, and caused the BRAT to be classified as a passenger car instead of a truck.

  8. gearheadshirts Avatar

    We just made a shirt that this fella NEEDS

    1. julkinen Avatar

      Hell, I need that.

  9. mika Avatar

    I miss this car, it was a fun little project to build my friend´s dad old beatenup subaru to something else…