Modernized Subaru Brat Looks Like a Compact Pickup for the Weekend Builder

Small, car-like pickups are very cool as projects. You can build a very nice Datsun that looks like a sports car or swap out the engine in a Caddy for something raw. However, the Subaru Brat doesn't enjoy the same kind of attention, despite being very significant in its segment.
Modernized Subaru Brat Looks Like a Compact Pickup for the Weekend Builder 10 photos
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Ever heard of the Chicken Tax? It's the 25 percent tariff on light trucks, potato starch, dextrin, and introduced brandy by president Lyndon B. Johnson in response to a trade war with Europe. That stuff about trucks was supposed to hurt Volkswagen. However, Japanese manufacturers also had trouble pushing their little utes in America.

The Brat arrived in America with carpeting and welded-in rear-facing seats in the cargo bed. This was Subaru's way of circumventing the Chicken Tax. The Brat was technically a passenger car and thus only taxed at 2.5%.

The Brat also had all-wheel drive. You didn't get that with the Toyotas, Nissans, and Mazdas of the time. Its engines of choice were either a 1.6L or a 1.8L, both in the flat-4 configuration. 1983 and 1984 models could be had with an optional 94 hp turbocharged engine.

Cool, right? Well, we're going to look at a rendering of what the Brat might look like today if Subaru had kept it in production. This piece by wb.artist20 is based on the Outback, but has a 2-door body. The contrast between the rugged black cladding and retro decals is what makes this a magical image.

Ironically, the kind of protectionist thinking that tried to stop Subaru from making money is what made the company so strong. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan limited the import of Japanese cars. American car companies increased prices artificially while not addressing the reliability issues that made imports more attractive in the first place.

Maybe that explains why the Outback is one of the most popular wagon in America by far. That, plus the dog commercials; we love those.


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