Subaru's Best Boxers: The Featherweight BRAT Pickup


Cars like this shouldn't work. So why is the BRAT so awesome?

Though it worked out rather well in the United States and Australia, the concept of a car-based pick-up truck never really caught on in Europe. Contrary to the buzz that's generated when, say, BMW makes an M3 Ute as part of an April Fools' prank, it's very rare to see a pickup do well in Europe. That is unless it's, you know, an actual truck. As with all rules, though, there are exceptions, and the Subaru BRAT coupe utility vehicle is an incredibly interesting example of a commercial vehicle anomaly.

A car like the Subaru BRAT simply shouldn't work. Here is a tiny-by-pickup-standards flat bed with a weedy engine and, until 1985, stupid rearward-facing seats that were installed to circumvent the stringent "Chicken Tax" import fees. And yet it developed a cult following on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

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The BRAT's popularity in the United States is already well-documented, but it's hardly ever mentioned that the Subaru developed its own devoted following in Britain as well. In fact, the BRAT was extremely popular with UK farmers and those who lived in rural areas. A client type which would carry on as, and in some cases continue to do so, extremely loyal Subaru buyers in the United Kingdom. In fact, the Subaru BRAT has the rather unusual distinction of being a Japanese vehicle that's also an extremely popular grey import model in Japan: As Subaru never sold the vehicle in its homeland, Japanese fans of the BRAT have no choice but to ship one over from, in the most difficult of cases, the other side of the world.

Despite all of this, Subaru never really properly followed up on the success of its Boxer-powered pickup. Yes, we got the Baja but that never attracted the attention of buyers quite like the BRAT did. We'd probably even go as far to say it's one of the coolest cars of its type ever made, and the fact you can get good ones for pennies means you have no real excuse to not own a BRAT whilst they're still dirt cheap.

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