Subaru Brumby

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Subaru Brumby

1971 - 1979
Flat 4 "boxer"
1361/1600 cc
50 kw @ 5200 rpm
4 spd. man
Top Speed:
Number Built:
1 star
Subaru Brumby
After only a few short years of distribution in Australia, Subaru quickly garnered a level of enthusiasm rarely found in Australia for Japanese cars, although it certainly nowhere near that for the revered Aussie sizes and bent eights.

Most found the Subaru simply “unusual and mechanically interesting”, and who could blame them. A small four cylinder 4 wheel drive Japanese utility with a boxer engine was certainly not following any formula we were used to at the time.

And although initially the appeal of the Brumby would have seemed limited, this was certainly not reflected in the sales or demand generated.

The Brumby was powered by the Subaru 1600cc horizontally opposed four-cylinder “boxer” engine that produced a rather limiting 50 kW at 5200 rpm, but thankfully low-down torque was reasonable at 110 Nm at 2400 rpm.

The first models of the 'Sub' (as it is affectionately known) were prone to producing an unbearable amount of mechanical noise; however with second generation models this problem was to the most part rectified.

The transmission was through a regulation four-speed manual gearbox, and no low range transfer case was fitted. Consequently the Brumby made do with a rather tall first gear, not really acceptable for a fully fledged off-road vehicle.

But on the positive side, engaging the rear wheels by pulling back on the “4WD” lever would bless the Brumby with plenty of traction, and given its featherweight status when compared to more traditional 4 wheel drives, the Brumby could actually traverse rugged terrain well beyond what many considered it could, or should.

Another more minor “plus” was that, unlike most 4WDs, the Brumby did not need to be brought to a stop to engage 4WD, thereby helping you get out of trouble without losing forward momentum when the terrain caught the un-weary off-roader out.
But what really set the Brumby apart from the majority of its competitors was its fully-independent suspension. The front used a conventional MacPherson strut arrangement found most front-wheel-drive vehicles; the rear drive arrangement added to convert the Subaru into a four-wheel drive however was also independent.

The more traditional four wheel drives may have proved more capable off road with their conventional live axle set up, but the Brumby’s independent suspension provided a blissfully smooth ride (by 4WD standards) on both road and rough terrain.

On the bitumen, in two-wheel-drive, the Subaru displayed typical front-wheel-drive characteristics, with power-on understeer and power-off oversteer. Unfortunately with an empty rear tray the Brumby was somewhat skittish.

Appointments and comforts were up to typical Japanese standards, and they managed to retain their value very well. Overall practicality was limited by the two-person cabin and small tray, but nevertheless the Brumby was distinctive and individualistic, and soon became a favorite with the young.

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