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Friday 20th January 2012


It's not just Ronald Reagan who has a thing for Subaru pick-ups

I was hoping to bring you this story on the fabulous Subaru Brat you see before you as a 'spotted'. But Jon Mathers, boss of current custodians Cross Roads Subaru, isn't having any of it. "It's not for sale. Never." Oh well.

A shame really because you don't see 'em like this any more.

This is to blame for a life of Subaru fandom
This is to blame for a life of Subaru fandom
I have a particular soft spot for these Subaru pick-ups (apparently shared with Ronald Reagan!) and can credit them with my continued affection for all things Subaru. One shared by at least one of my brothers too, both of us heavily influenced by early childhood exposure to Subarus courtesy of a farmer friend of the family who ran both MV pick-ups and the estate car version too. I can vividly remember him bombing us around his land in them, the shock at his habit of just veering off tracks, through hedges and across fields clearly as an effective marketing tool on the impressionable Trent mindset as any you could wish to encounter. Ever since my brother and I have automatically equated Subaru with cool, resulting in shared ownership of a WRX a few years back followed, in his case, with a Forester.

So when Harris and I pulled up at Cross Roads yesterday it wasn't the American cop car, the mint Mk1 XR2, the Sierra RS Cosworth or the rank of Impreza STIs that made me point and beam - it was this.

Crosshairs bring back childhood memories
Crosshairs bring back childhood memories
Raised in North Yorkshire these things are part of the backdrop of my youth. Back in the day they were a feature of every rural high street, caked in a thick layer of mud and driven by ruddy faced chaps in tweed. And they'd always have the following in the load bed: a sheepdog, a manky bale of hay and at least one anonymous blue barrel containing something probably highly toxic.

A shame the mechanical toughness wasn't an attribute shared by the bodywork though - most of these pick-ups have long-since rusted away to nothing. No wonder Cross Roads leapt at this one when it came up, paying £3K for it. You can pay more too, there being a small but passionate following.

Emerges, stage right, covered in mud...
Emerges, stage right, covered in mud...
Last time I went in one of these things I wasn't big enough to reach the pedals, let alone old enough to drive. But it's amazing the things you remember, the curious crosshairs dash display among them. I had a quick punt along the lanes near Cross Roads and was grinning all the way, though it took some self discipline not to emulate our farmer friend and take an off-road diversion and bounce around some fields. It's no STI in terms of performance but the flat-four thrum is there and the Brat is packed with the quirky eccentricity that continues to make Subaru such a fascinating brand, and one close to the hearts of country lads everywhere.

Author: Dan Trent
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