Car Spotlight: 1979 Subaru Brat

Cars and Coffee is known for bringing out some of the most interesting, special cars. This month's Greater Lansing area Cars and Coffee was no exception.

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The Subaru BRAT was a 2-door Coupe Utility (or Ute) built from 1978 to 1994 in Ota, in the Gunma Prefecture of Japan, much like my 2006 Forester. The name "BRAT" is actually an acronym for "Bi-drive Recreational All-Terrain Transporter."

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The BRAT was, oddly, never sold in Japan, but has since become a popular grey import. In the US, the BRAT was an interesting vehicle in the US. But, before I tell you why, I need to explain. In 1963, president Lyndon B Johnson imposed a 25% tariff on potato starch, dextrin, brandy and light commercial trucks in response to tariffs put in place by France and West Germany on the importation of U.S.-produced poultry. This was known as the Chicken Tax. Because the BRAT, being a pickup truck, was considered a commercial vehicle, to avoid having to pay the Chicken Tax, Subaru fit rear-facing jump seats. Essentially, just plastic shells mounted to a steel frame, making it, technically, a passenger car.

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The BRAT, being a small, Japanese car, has small dimensions. It's equipped with the standard 4-speed manual transmission. By default, the car was Front Wheel Drive, but would become Four-Wheel-Drive when a lever was moved. Even on the fly.

Look how clean this car is...The carpet is perfect, and, thanks to the dash mat, the dashboard is free of cracks, and in like-new condition. Joel, the owner, has just over 110,000 miles on the car, and, rather astonishingly, has an exhaustive service history from all previous owners, as well as himself. Right down to the tire inflation pressures, oil level checks and car washes...

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The BRAT had 2 generations, this being a second-year example of the first generation. This one has a 1.6L EA-71 H4 boxer engine making something like 67hp at 5,200 rpm. Unlike modern Subaru boxer engines, however, the EA-71 was a pushrod Overhead Valve engine.

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As you might have seen in past posts, I love classic Japanese cars, especially old, quirky cars like this. Oh, and you might be interested to know that Former President Ronald Reagan had a 1978 BRAT up until 1998. And, if you've ever seen the TV show "My name is Earl", the character "Joy" drive a 1985 BRAT.

.Anyway, thanks for reading. Please, check back often for more content, and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, share my posts, and have a nice day.

-Phil

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