Helpful Pointers in Maintaining Your Subaru Brat
The Subaru Brat became well known as the car that former President Ronald Reagan kept in his California Ranch. The Brat was a well-loved 2 door coupe utility truck set in a sedan platform. It was first developed in 1977 in Japan as a response to the demand for small trucks, which at that time, was addressed by competitors Toyota, Nissan and Mazda. As time passed, the Subaru Brat became popular not just because of its quirky design but also for its use and performance. It proved to be a versatile vehicle to drive and a great performer in rugged terrain. That is probably why Reagan chose to have this Japanese car in his 688-acre ranch in Santa Barbara. If you are lucky enough to own one of the well-loved and historical Brat cars, then it's best to give it some special treatment to prolong its life. Here are some pointers on how to care for your Subaru Brat.
- Keep it cool at all times.
The cooling system is responsible for regulating the temperature in your engine and preventing bouts of overheating. Thus, keeping the cooling system in top shape cannot be stressed enough, especially in a classic car such as this. Make it a habit to inspect the level of coolant (or anti freeze) in the reservoir from time to time. If you notice that the levels need more topping up than usual, then that may be a sign of a leak problem. Coolant flushes are required for any vehicle every 24,000 to 30,000 miles or 2 to 3 years. However, if you have been using the Brat more frequently and in tougher conditions, then consider having a flush once a year. Also check the cooling system parts such as the water pump, the hoses and the radiator for any signs of wear or corrosion. Replace them when necessary.
- Give your brakes a break.
Making sure that the braking system functions properly is imperative in making your driving experience smooth and safe. If it has been quite a while since you last flushed out the brake fluid, then now is the time to do so. You could also determine a lot by checking the state of the brake fluid that has been flushed out. If the brake fluid is a clear and amber color, then that shows that the system is still healthy and well. If the fluid that comes out is murky and dark with bits of rubber and rust, then that's an indication that you might need to replace some brake system parts. Inspect the rotors, brake drums, wheel bearings and rubber brake lines.
- Have an annual check for your Brat.
Just like people, cars deserve special attention from trained professionals. This especially holds true when cars are more than a decade old. Have your Brat undergo an annual checkup that includes checking critical components such as the suspension, transmission and power steering systems. The oil change, tire rotation and other annual maintenance tasks should be included in the checkup as well. You can address some concerns by yourself in your own garage. However, it's always better to consult professional mechanics.
Subaru BRAT: A Vehicle Worthy of an Honorable Mention
The Subaru BRAT, which is an acronym for Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter, was basically a Leone that was converted into a pickup truck and aimed to compete with Chevy El Camino and Ford Ranchero. Its production in Japan started in 1977, as per the President of Subaru of America’s order. It was launched in 1977 for the 1978 model year and became popular in the United States. But that popularity was short lived as the mini pickup truck segment outshone them in the late 1970s.
In 1987, the BRAT was discontinued in the U.S. market, but it still fared well in Australia where it was called Brumby, and in Europe where it was marketed as the Shifter. Throughout its existence, Subaru was able to sell a total of 92,445 BRATs. That’s no easy accomplishment considering the BRAT’s less than a decade stay in the industry.
1978 - 1981: The first BRATs and the Presidential BRAT
The early BRATS, which were sold in North America, were outfitted with rear-facing seats in the cargo bay. It was this unique feature that made this vehicle qualify as a passenger vehicle rather than a pickup, making Subaru save thousands of dollars in importation fees and charges. The all-wheel-drive system was standard on all BRATs, and the vehicles were powered by a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine. The first BRATs were available in DL and GL trim levels.
President Ronald Reagan owned a 1978 Subaru BRAT, which he used to go through his 688-area ranch in Santa Barbara. That presidential BRAT was kept for two decades and was sold in 1998. In 2004, it ended up on eBay and was purchased in 2005 by the Young America’s Foundation, displaying on the Reagan exhibit.
1982 - 1987: The updated BRAT
For the 1982 model year, the BRAT got a restyled appearance and the GL variant received a dual-range transfer case. The original round headlights were replaced by rectangular units, which breathed a new life into BRAT’s fascia. Little changed for the 1983 and 1984 model years, except buyers could go for the optional 1.8-liter turbo engine that could generate 93 horsepower. Compared to the pickup trucks marketed by North American manufacturers, the BRAT was relatively smaller due to its short wheelbase.
What marked the 1986-1987 Subaru BRAT was the removal of the two plastic jump seats in the rear, but it maintained the excellent placement of the spare tire, which was located in the engine bay.
2003 - 2006: The resurrected BRAT (Subaru Baja)
In 2002, Subaru resurrected the BRAT in the form of its 2003 Subaru Baja. Dubbed as “Son of BRAT”, the Baja didn’t meet sales expectations, thus its short life. Only 30,000 of Brat’s offspring were sold in North America; it was never offered in the Japanese market. This Subaru BRAT offspring represented the company’s failed attempt to capture the hearts of the younger and more hip buyers.