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Auto blogMon, 27 Jan 2014 19:30:00 EST
The Subaru Brat is the automotive equivalent of a teenager with a mullet: weird, a little reckless but brimming with enough self-confidence to make it cool.
The Brat came from Subaru's desire to compete in the burgeoning light pickup market of the late-1970s. To get around the so-called Chicken Tax that added a 25 percent tariff on imported pickup trucks, Subaru threw two seats in the bed, which technically allowed it to be classified it as a passenger car. The result was a great, weird combination of a complete lack of safety, with a low price and lots of driving fun.
In the video below, Motor Trend's Johnny Lieberman takes a 1978 Brat through the desert and shows just how much fun a little pickup can be.
Looks rarely tell the whole story. We'll admit to being a bit let down by the Subaru WRX and its rather conservative appearance - where were the gold wheels and the spoilers? Hatchback? World Rally Blue? But after seeing it in this video and hearing that signature, throaty growl while this red example drifts and slides around dirt roads, we're starting to get more excited.
While the growl is the main reason for watching the clip below (you should do that now), Subaru has also thrown in some information about the improved suspension, and increased power. Learn along with us, below.
It was back in 2007 that Subaru of Indiana Automotive, under contract from Subaru minority shareholder Toyota, built the first Toyota Camry at its plant in Lafayette, Indiana. Rumblings of the end of that contract work have been around for a while, as Subaru talked of expanding capacity to build more units and add a line for the Impreza, and Toyota talked of moving Camry production to its Georgetown, KY plant. The news was official internally last November when SIA Executive Vice President Tom Easterday told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Camry production would end. Now, Automotive News reports that both automakers have admitted publicly that the end will come in 2016.
SIA currently has a 170,000-unit capacity devoted to the home-brand Legacy and Outback models, while a $400-million expansion increases that to 300,000 units to prepare the facility for Impreza production in two years. Freeing up the 100,000 units of production devoted to the Camry means a 400,000-unit capability, which is far more than Subaru needs at the moment, but the Toyota exit will allow it to expand any way it sees fit. Subaru has said it will absorb the workers on the Camry line and no jobs will be lost, the mayor of Lafayette saying the development could change the timetable for the expansion.