Cohort Sightings: BRAT Or Rampage – Pick Your Poison

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The two compact car-truck hybrids uploaded by LeSabretoothTiger vie for some of the most colorful model names assigned to four wheels: would you rather deal with a brat or someone (or something) in a rampage?  I can’t help but think of a five-year old dressed as Rambo knocking toys off of a shelf, but buyers appreciated these cars more than they could like the average problem child.  Unlike their namesakes, they set about making themselves useful.

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In fact, unlike their Ranchero and El Camino forebears, they actually made a good degree of sense.  And, unlike the compact pick-ups which replaced those cars, good fuel economy was possible in daily use.  It naturally helped that the cars upon which they were based were themselves quite good.  What better way to get the most out of a rugged 4WD car’s all-weather hauling capacity?  What better way to maximize your Omni’s already excellent cargo capacity?

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Subaru tried around 2003 to recapture some of that BRAT magic with the Baja, but had a hard time convincing customers it was worthy of their affections.  If it were Impreze-based with a nice set of steel wheels, a body free of cladding, and cloth/vinyl seats, they might’ve succeeded.  While the optional turbocharged EJ25 made it very rapid, the car should’ve been called the BOAR (BRAT On A Rampage), as it was more in the El Camino mold: burly, not scrappy.


Of the two cars featured here, I’d have to favor the Dodge: older Subarus’ manners actually were somewhat truckish but the Rampage was a nimble car which could do what a truck could.  And with its big 2.2, the Dodge offered contemporary buyers a fun way to rampage through the tail end of early ’80s recession and its coincidental high interest rates, in addition to half-ton capacity.


Thanks to the Subaru’s undeniable charm, though, it’s the Chrysler L-body which is more obscure and under-appreciated today.  So for you BRAT fans, here’s a “nicer” example, with a T-top and exposed bed with jump seats (I like the more basic featured car better).  I never did see one with the seats left in place growing up around Lake Champlain, where they were immensely popular, but that’s what it took to get them past the chicken tax.  For 1983 and 1984 (the Rampage’s last two years on the market), Subaru offered a turbocharged 1.8 with 95 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque; but drop one of the ubiquitous 2.2 turbos the Dodge, and you’ll get a car that really lives up to its name.