Subaru BRAT

Main article: Subaru Leone
Subaru BRAT
Manufacturer Subaru
Also called Subaru 284
Subaru Brumby
Subaru Shifter
Subaru MV
Subaru Targa
Subaru MPV
Production 1978–1994
Assembly Ōta, Gunma, Japan and Waitara, New Zealand (until 1987)
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door coupe utility
Layout F4
Related Subaru Leone
Engine 1.6 L EA-71 H4
1.8 L EA-81 H4
Transmission 4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Successor Subaru Baja

The Subaru BRAT,[1] (outside the United States known as the 284 in the United Kingdom, Brumby in Australia, and Shifter, MV, Targa or MPV in other markets), is a light duty, four-wheel drive coupé utility,[2][3] sold from 1978 to 1994. It was an export-only model, never being officially sold in Japan. Due to this, the BRAT became a popular grey import vehicle in Japan.


Developed in Japan in 1977 at the request of the President of Subaru of America, the BRAT was introduced to match the demand for small trucks in the USA, from Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda. Unlike these trucks, all BRATs had four-wheel drive, being developed from the existing Leone station wagon.[3]

It has other features such as an optional T-top split roof, a spring-loaded hidden door for a side step into the cargo bed, and a spare tire mounted under the hood. The spare tire necessitates an oval shaped air intake breather.

When the Leone was redesigned in 1979 for the 1980 model year the BRAT continued with the original body until 1982.[2]

In 1987 imports to North America ceased, but exports to Europe, Australia, Latin America and New Zealand continued until 1994.

Due to truncating demand of pickup trucks since late 1970s as Japanese customers shifted to station wagons at that time, Subaru never considered marketing BRAT in their home market.


The United States versions also had carpeting and welded-in rear-facing jumpseats in the cargo area. These were claimed to be a tariff-avoidance ploy,[4][5] with the plastic seats in the cargo bed allowing Subaru to classify the BRAT as a passenger car - charged only a 2.5%, compared to 25% tariff on light trucks due to Chicken tax. They were discontinued after the 1985 model year.


All BRATs had four-wheel drive and the Subaru EA engine. Early models received the 1.6 litre EA-71 whereas 1981 and later models received a 1.8 litre EA-81 engine. 1983 and 1984 models could be purchased with an optional 94 hp (70 kW) turbocharged engine. Manual transmissions were standard on all models, and an automatic transmission was available on turbocharged BRATs. 1980 and earlier models had a single-range transfer case, while 1981 and later GL models had a dual range transfer case (DLs still had single range), and all turbocharged models were equipped with an automatic transmission with a single range, push-button four-wheel drive.

Notable owners

President Ronald Reagan owned a 1978 BRAT until 1998, which he kept at his ranch near Santa Barbara, California. The vehicle has since been restored and returned to the ranch, which is now owned by the Young America's Foundation.[6]

In the television show My Name Is Earl, Joy and Darnell Turner drove a 1985 BRAT.

In the movie Napoleon Dynamite, the character Rex from 'Rex Kwan Do' drove a 1982 BRAT.


  1. an acronym for Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter
  2. 1 2 James M. Flammang (1994). Standard Catalog of Imported Cars, 1946-1990. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, Inc. p. 589. ISBN 0-87341-158-7.
  3. 1 2 ワールド・カー・ガイド28: スバル [World Car Guide #28: Subaru] (in Japanese), Tokyo, Japan: Neko Publishing, 1998, p. 71, ISBN 978-4-873661-73-5
  4. Dwayne Bray (June 20, 1995). "Jury Selection Begins in Negligence Trial Over Crash of Subaru Brat". LA Times.
  5. Paul Elias (September 21, 1995). "Man Paralyzed in Accident Awarded $1.7 Million by Jury". LA Times.
  6. "The Presidential BRAT", Drive – The Magazine from Subaru, Winter 2009
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