1978 Subaru BRAT Project – SOLD!

by | May 2021 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Truckin Tuesday

May 31, 2021 Update – we confirmed the seller of this Subaru BRAT “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Most classic truck enthusiasts would never think a Subaru would be in the mix of desirable projects, however, the original Subaru BRAT is a notable exception these days.  Known for their rugged durability, most were beaten to death until their supporting structure rusted away.  A restorable example was originally listed in May 2021 on Craigslist in Garner, North Carolina (Charlotte) for $2,700. While this BRAT reportedly runs on a gas can of fresh fuel, you will need to transport this project back to your garage to make it road-worthy again. The Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool indicates the current asking price correctly falls well below this guide’s #4 “Fair” (Daily Driver) estimate of $5,200.

The Subaru BRAT, short for “Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter”, was a light-duty all-wheel-drive coupe utility (more affectionately known as a “UTE”) sold from 1978 to 1994.  Subaru developed the BRAT in Japan in 1977 at the request of the then President of Subaru of America who wanted to match the demand for small trucks in the U.S. being sold by Toyota, Datsun, and Mazda.  However, BRATs differentiated themselves from the other Japanese options by offering standard four-wheel-drive.  In addition to standard four-wheel drive, all 1980 and earlier BRATs came equipped with Subaru’s durable EA engine connected to a manual transmission and a single-speed transfer case.

However, the most distinctive feature of early BRATs was the cargo area carpeting and welded-in rear-facing jump seats.  By offering non-removable seats in the cargo bed, Subaru brilliantly avoided paying the U.S. 25% “Chicken Tax” tariff applied to all imported trucks to this day.

This is clearly a project truck in need of bodywork, a repaint. Sourcing a replacement tailgate and parts needed for the rear jump seats will likely require perseverance and patience. With top-end values pushing $30K these days, it’s possible you could break even if you do most of the restoration work yourself.

Here’s the seller’s one-sentence description:

“1978 Subaru Brat · Truck · Driven 84,000 miles

First-year Subaru Brat 4wd. Clean and clear NC title in my name. This brat is a project. Factory AC. It runs great but needs the brakes gone through. Brand new tires. Had the wheels sandblasted and painted. It does have rust. Have the rear seats but no bracket or headrest. I haven’t looked at the tank. I just ran it off a gas can. It is a project. $2700 Cash. Pick up in Garner NC”

Restore or Restomod: What would you do with this Subaru BRAT project?  Comment below and let us know!

  1. Ernest Valtri

    This Brat doesn’t have the funky roof panels. Were they an option?

    • Guys with Rides

      The early examples so as the first-year model did not offer Subaru’s take on T-Tops.

  2. David Andrews

    recycle the rusty can


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