I remember the Subaru Brat from my childhood with a fond weirdness, because it was definitely different than anything else on the road. The BRAT officially stood for Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter. The Japanese understood American’s desire for a vehicle to be fun. The Brat tapped into the American desire for a vehicle that is conventional in some ways, but very unconventional in others. As such, the vehicle was never sold in Japan, it was for the English speaking markets of the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
Rear Facing Seats
The thing I remember most about it was the rear-facing seats. The first thing I did for this body was 3D print a set of rear facing seats in 1/24 scale and hot-glued them to the bed facing backwards. For the print I used this 1/10 scale design. I scaled the seat so it was 20mm wide and then moved it down on the Z-axis 3mm to create a flat bottom.
To mount the body I purchased a set of Axial Chassis Parts 201002. It includes the body post, which can also be used in the rear. Rather than using the body pin, I purchased some 3/8″ rare earth magnets from a local store called Ax-Man Surplus. I used CA glue to attach them onto the body post.
The magnets have enough height that I didn’t need to remove the body clip retainer post.
The magnets came on a thin steel disk, so I hot-glued that to the under-side of the bed.
With the body mounting sorted, I needed to adjust the wheelbase. I ordered at set of SCX24 DIY Rod Ends off of Shapeways to make custom length suspension links. I lined up the front fender of the Brat with the SCX24 front wheels so I only needed to make custom links for the 4-link rear. There’s an excellent page on Scale Builders Guild that covers making custom links of various sizes.
I purchased some 2-56 threaded rod and some 1/8″ aluminum tubing from my local hobby shop. It pays to ask them where to find this stuff as the threaded rod was in the airplane section.
Using the DIY end links, I needed to cut the rod 8.5mm shorter than my desired link length, and the tubing 10mm shorter than the rod. The upper rods on the SCX24 are 7.5mm shorter than the lower rods. The Carisma has a wheelbase of 125mm, the Axial JLU is 133mm. To remove 8mm of wheelbase I constructed my 4-link rods with the following lengths:
- Lower: 50mm center to center (41.5mm rod, 31.5mm tubing)
- Upper: 42.5mm center to center (34mm rod, 24mm tubing)
Thinking about this, the tubing isn’t strictly required, but I noticed the 2-56 rod bends easily, so the tube will help add rigidity. The tubing also provides a smooth surface that will less likely get hung up on rocks. Lastly, the tubing helps create an exact rod length. I used a dremel to cut the tubing about 1mm long, then did additional grinding & sanding to get the length just right.
I also cut the length of the rear drive shaft down 8mm (just the outer sleeve section) as well using a pipe cutter – similar to what I did on the Slash 4×4 Crawler.
I moved the suspension mounting points forward 8mm by drilling a couple extra holes in the frame rails with a 1/16″ drill bit.
I could have went with The Goblin frame, but that presented a different set of issues as it lacks mounting hardware and the flat sides don’t accommodate the stock body & suspension mounts as nicely as the stock steel C-channel frame rails.
To allow the suspension & body post mount to move forward, I also trimmed part of my battery tray.
The Chassis Parts Kit comes with an extra battery tray if you need to put your rig back to box stock. To restore the driveshaft you’ll need Axial Part # 31611.
I added some RC4WD Stamped Steel 1.0″ white wheels to compliment the early 80s look, along with some RC4WD Rock Crusher tires. The tires aren’t the best for crawling, but you can’t argue that they provide a streetable look to this rig.