Subaru toyed with this cheeky baby bakkie: Meet the Brat

The cheeky little Brat that packed a punch: See this blast in Subaru's bakkie past and you will understand why Subaru SUVs are so respected today.

Subaru toyed with this cheeky baby bakkie: Meet the Brat

Reverse a couple of decades and if you owned a bakkie in South Africa back then, you may have wanted to immediately dump your workhorse “champ” for this cheeky, not-so-little Brat.

After all, the Subaru Brat packed an all-wheel drive system powered by first a 1.6-litre and then a 1.8-litre turbo-charged petrol engine. They were also equipped with flat-four engines.

Subaru Brat vs the Champ

And by mid-to-late1970s standards, it certainly wasn’t ugly — and in fact, for some tastes, may be convincingly reminiscent of the far larger and more powerful Chevrolet SS Ute.

In a brief timeline and power comparison to South Africa’s legendary “Champion of Africa” — the Datsun (now Nissan) 1200, which later grew into the Datsun 1400 — was clearly outgunned by the Brat.

The Champ however enjoyed far greater longevity having made significant contributions to the country’s love affair with bakkies between 1971 and its relatively recent demise in 2008. The Brat was introduced in 1978 and enjoyed a far shorter production run until 1994.

Subaru Brat

On the face of it, the Brat’s biggest drawback at the time was simply the fact that it was conceived as an export model and sold primarily in Canada, the US, Australia and the UK.

The Brat not intentionally cheeky

That said, the waters around the Brat’s production and the garages to which they were eventually dispatched, still appear a little murky. That is because an entirely different set of information around the Brat emerges from a Wikipedia search.

According to Wikipedia – not only did the Japanese model find itself exported to a range of other countries and continents but that it was also, at one point, actually assembled in South Africa.

Image: drivezing.com

Classed as a “light-duty, four-wheel-drive coupe, the Japanese automaker — which has risen to manufacture world-class SUVs and rally cars — was, rather interestingly, not being intentionally cheeky with respect to the vehicle’s arguably rather apt name. Brat is actually an acronym for “Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter” — and clearly not a name badge that will fit snugly on the small vehicle’s tailgate.

Good enough for a president

The Brat was created at the request of Subaru Japan’s president, apparently in response to a barrage of Toyota, Nissan and Mazda bakkies and utility vehicles which were being exported into a number of overseas markets.

 Former US president Ronald Reagan and his dog, Victory, with his Subaru Brat. Image: Reagan Library 

And Subaru was certainly successful with its Brat sales, to the extent that former US president Ronald Reagan reportedly owned one for use on his ranch.

The Brat’s successor was the Subaru Baja — another small and sporty bakkie — which however, proved less popular and was eventually dropped from the Subaru line-up as the automaker turned its focus to the SUVs it manufactures today.

Looking back at the Brat, its utility, performance and legacy, and its little wonder then that Subaru has progressed to build vehicles that not only command a cult following in many countries, but respect across the motoring world today.

Source : The South African More