off-road (28)

Jay Nelson’s Subaru Brat Camper

I stopped by Jay Nelson‘s house in San Francisco Wednesday on my way to Santa Cruz (to check out the sliding doors on his shop — for the sliding doors I’m about to build on my curved-roof shed), and this was parked out in front. The body is made of wood, and there’s a copper roof which lifts up.

The vehicle is a Subaru Brat (which, in Subaru-ese) stands for  “Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter.” 4-wheel drive.

According to Autoweek:

“The BRAT came with one engine at launch, a 1.6-liter flat four mated to either a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. Two trim levels were offered, DL and GL. The GL had four headlights, the the DL had two. In 1981 displacement was raised to 1.8 liters while power grew from 67 hp to a whopping 73. In 1983 an optional turbo engine was offered with 93 angry Japanese ponies. Early models had a single-range transfer case; later models came with a dual-range unit. The strange Subaru Baja eventually came to continue the legacy, but only 30,000 were sold in the four years (2003-2006) it was produced.”

We are doing a new book, Hit the Road, Jack: Adventure Rigs, and Jay’s unique vehicles will be featured, along with those of Mike Basich and other creative builders.

Note: if you have anything to contribute, or know of cool road rigs, contact evan@shelterpub.com.

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Beach Camping in Baja California Sur

Left to right:

  • My 1983 Toyota Tacoma 4X4 with 8-foot bed parked at Roosterfish Cove, Destilladeras (several miles farther out on the East Cape from Shipwrecks). This model did not have independent suspension for front wheels; desert rats preferred it because it was tougher.
  • Air Camping tent (made in Italy) on roof. When flap was up, it faced water. Had mosquito netting, mattress, pillow, sheets inside. Ladder holds up cantilevered section. Great for the desert, no worry about snakes, scorpions. I would 4-wheel it out in the desert on my travels in Baja at night, go down into arroyos and sleep. Stealth.
  • 9-foot Haut 3-fin board
  • Yakima Rocket Box on roof, which contained:
    • 10-by-12-foot flea market tarp for shade. There was a solar panel on the Rocket Box that charged up an extra battery. Note sandbags hanging in corners to hold tarp down in wind; no stakes nec.
    • fishing rod

I would fly into San José del Cabo, pick up the truck at my friend Chilon’s house, drive out to an arroyo on a ranch, down to the beach, let air out of tires and go 2 miles or so on the sand to Roosterfish Cove. All alone for days. No clothes nec.

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