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Subaru’s loyal and reliable pick up

As it’s Melbourne Cup Day, what better theme to cover than a horse-themed model and Subaru’s tough Brumby ute fits the bill.

Famous for its four-wheel-drive systems, Subaru sold what was originally coined the BRAT (Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter) in 1978 to compete against the Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Ranchero in the US.

Based on the Leone passenger model offered by Subaru, the Brumby was sold in Australia from 1978 until 1994 and has since become a sort after ute due to its rarity. Farmers loved the rugged Brumby as it proved a reliable and user friendly model due to its compact size.

Named after the indigenous Australian horse breed locally, the Brumby used another Subaru quirk in the form of a flat-4 boxer engine and in particular the EA designated 1.6-litre, but this was changed to a 1.8-litre version later in life.

A special version designed to contest off-road racing named the ‘Gold Brumby’ is raced by Stuart and Jim Zlotkowski under the Settlement Creek Racing banner.

Replacing the original powerplant and drivetrain with one from a Subaru Impreza WRX STI, it has 30-inch tyres a dry sump in addition to Porsche CV joints mated to custom flanges and axles. It runs bespoke suspension set-up featuring MCA shocks.

Although it stopped being sold in Australia in 1994, Subaru built a concept named after the water lily in Japanese called the Suiren based of the then new Impreza. This concept didn’t make it to production however and the Brumby was the last ute to be sold in Australia by Subaru.

But the US did get one in the form of the Baja based off the Liberty SUV sold between 2002 and 2006, though only sold 30,000 during this run compared to an expected 24,000 per year.

Of course, Proton released the similar Jumbuck onto the Australian market spurring memories of the Brumby albeit this was based on Mitsubishi’s Lancer and was not four-wheel-drive.