1984 Subaru BRAT GL 1.8 from North America


If you're willing to spend the money to fix everything, it is a very fun car to own and drive


CV axles, radiator, rear main seal, ball joints, speedometer gear in tranny went out.

Put $2500 into it to get it where it is.

General Comments:

These are great cars if you are willing to put the money into them to make them good. I would say is the best high school car. Me and my friends used the back seats a lot, and had great fun in it.

Mine had the optional rollbar, and I installed four 4 inch KC head lamps on top of it, and painted it camouflage, and it draws looks, and sometimes people ask me what it is.

I wasn't too impressed with the gas mileage. I seem to get about 25 highway, but overall it is a fun reliable car when it works.

I work for an automobile repair shop, and it is nice to haul engines, trannys and other large items you wouldn't normally put in your trunk.

I also replaced my 4 speed transmission with a 5 speed from a 1986 or 87 Loyale, and that makes it way easier to drive.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st April, 2012

1986 Subaru BRAT GL 1.8 litre from North America


Misunderstood when new, but brilliantly-engineered and a great alternative to a modern econobox


Carb needed a rebuild.

Both front CV axles shredded their boots, necessitating replacement. Strut and shock went at the same time, so new suspension all around.

Clutch gave up the ghost shortly after.

General Comments:

Great little trucklet (it's not a car, and it's not really a truck - hence 'trucklet'). 25mpg and no danger of getting speeding tickets. 4WD makes it unstoppable in snow, and on the trail it'll get in and out of some surprising places.

Sure, it's basic - but big deal; it's way more than just the sum of its parts. It attracts looks and questions everywhere it goes, gets decent fuel economy, and handles surprisingly well. Does a good 75mph highway cruise, and (when kept in the right gear) is fun to chuck around on a back road.

Easy to work on, and I put the reliability issues above down to a) it having nearly 120,000 miles on it when I bought it; b) the previous owners not really having kept up with maintenance; and c) it having sat for nearly three years before I brought it home. Not fair to blame the vehicle when neglect and disuse are part of the equation.

I'd recommend one to anyone willing to put a little effort into ownership - it's not a modern Honda, where you just turn the key every time and it goes. But a little perseverance and you've got a nifty runner that you'll rarely if ever see on the roads anymore. Better snag one before they're all gone!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd August, 2009

21st Jan 2010, 23:54

Say, I was wondering if these are good in high elevations (3000-12000 feet) Wyoming and California mountains with freezing point summers and high elevation. Won't hurt the car, I don't think, but that's basically what I was wondering. I know it will be hard to start, but hey, that's part of the "fun" of living up high. hehe.

1st Apr 2012, 20:12

I own a 1984 Brat, and I live in Utah, where some mornings are as cold as 5-10 Fahrenheit, and the thing I found weird was the auto choke would make it idle at 2500 to 3000 RPM. I don't know if it's normal or not, and you can drive the car as soon as it is started (I installed a 5 speed transaxle into it FYI), but 2nd gear didn't like to work unless it got a 2 minute warmup.

18th Aug 2015, 20:54

At high elevations I would steer clear of anything with a carburetor. Something with fuel injection is the way to go.