• Jan 31, 2009
Click above for a gallery of Ronald Reagan's Subaru BRAT

For reasons unbeknownst to this blogger, he receives Drive, the Subaru owners' magazine, in the mail. It's usually good for a 5-minute thumb-through, after which it lands in the circular file. The Winter issue, however, wound up providing a good read, thanks to the '78 BRAT shown above. You see, the little ute was purchased by Ronald Reagan for use at his Santa Barbara ranch, and it belonged to the former President until 1998.

In '98, the Young America's Foundation bought the Reagan ranch. The BRAT had given to a friend of the family, and was ultimately sold on eBay in 2004. A year later, however, the Young America's Foundation acquired the then-tired-looking trucklet, bringing it back to the ranch where it had spent most of its existence. Enter Subaru of America, former National Security Advisor Richard Allen, and a group of other supporters and Subaru enthusiasts. The BRAT was torn down and completely restored by The Westside Group to its original specs. Parts were donated; when necessary, they were fabricated. The end result of the project is what you see above: an essentially perfect specimen. It lives in a barn at the ranch, where we can imagine Reagan's ghost sitting in the driver's seat every now and then... with a smile on his face.


[Source: Drive]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 36 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good story. He was always my hero. It just goes to show you a manufacturer that provides what the market wants will be successful. All over the west in the mountainous areas people love those little Subarus. Good quality and 4WD at a reasonable price sells.
      I predict the first manufacturer that provides a reasonably priced small bore diesel will win. A PHEV with a small bore diesel kicker would be unbeatable.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1 on your entire comment!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Very cool! I could do without the big white shell though.
        Dallas
        • 3 Years Ago
        The big white shell is known as a brat cap and having one of those raises the resale value massively and it acts as a roof for the passengers in the jumpseats. but your right theay are kind of ugly
      • 5 Years Ago
      Subaru originaly thought they would be America's third car in the driveway. The full size American Auto would be the first. The German Volkswagen Beetle second. Then that little thing they called a car from Subaru would be the third car. It would be an around towner almost like something from Global Motors. Subaru has been in the states since the 1960's. The stuff brought up about the Greeness of Subaru and their sexual preferance wasn't even on the Horizon in 1978. The 60's and even 1978 seem like a different world compared to 2009. Fuji Heavy Industries has always had ties to someone be it Nissan, GM, and now Toyota.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm sorry, but how did the spare tire under the hood not melt or blow up under the engine's heat?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The engine was a pathetic 1.6 or 1.8 single carb, I had the same thing in my '83 GL wagon. It was a tiny motor, and there was also a metal heat shield under the tire to diffuse the engine heat some.

        It'd take work to get an STI drivetrain in there, but it would be hellaciously good fun.
          Dallas
          • 3 Years Ago
          it actually had a 2 barrel carb and even though it wasnt a monstosity of an engine it had more than enough power to get you where you needed to go.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nice car. I love quirky cars like this.
      • 5 Years Ago
      WELL...there you go again!!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      God!

      That is such a beautiful thing!

      Of course, some of you out there will now call on a boycott of all things Subaru...extending to cranberries harvested with the Subaru-engined bog pickers, WRXs and STis and, most unfortunately, lesbians with friends.

      Once you all get over the fact that we're all here together, you might stop putting humans into neat little categories based on their color, race, creed, plumbing or vehicle selection.

      RIP, RWR. Who'd have thunk America would end up in this mess?

        • 5 Years Ago
        + 1 Trillion, to symbolically counteract the pork bill that Reagan would oppose with every conservative fiber of his being, as I do.

        And from a fellow Subie driver.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I always liked the Brat. Especially the 1982-87 model. Personally, I feel that Subaru should have re-created the Brat in '03 instead of bringing out the Baja-that was a disaster from Day 1.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Interesting stuff, Alex. Thanks!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Reagan's first car was a new 1934 Nash. He later owned a 1946 Cadillac convertible, a 1965 Lincoln stretch limousine, a 1969 Ford station wagon and a 1976 Mercury Monarch sedan.
      The Sub was parked in 1979 after Nancy gave Ron a 1952 M-38AI Jeep. His pride and joy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Haha, I remember him getting interviewed by Barbara Walters sometime in the early 80's while he was driving that Jeep on the trails around his ranch, and scaring Babs senseless!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow... when it's cleaned up, that's a pretty snazzy looking ride.

      I kinda want one now... it would complement my '08 R32 nicely.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's several STI-engined brats on youtube and other corners of the internets. I had saved pics of one particularly nicely done one some time back, but alas that harddrive is dead. It seems to be a popular conversion down under.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Alex, that is an interesting idea... but... but... at what point does such a beast become "too much"?

        Did I just say "too much"? What a dumb thing to say... of course a Brat STI would be insanely awesome. It would weigh just to the right of nothing, and would make the cops simply scratch their heads.

        Oh never mind, you get paid to watch Knight Rider - you deserve to dream about such a monstrosity to ease your suffering.

        • 5 Years Ago
        If you're going to restore something and put the STi powertrain in it, you gotta go SVX. Style points!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I was talking to someone about this when I wrote it the other night, and he floated a pretty fun-sounding idea:

        "I want a restored BRAT with an STI powertrain."

        Yeah, me too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't remember what I was going to say.
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