San Francisco–based artist Jay Nelson answered a question seemingly no one was asking by adding a pop-top camper to the bed of a 1982 Subaru Brat. The small camper integrates gracefully with the compact pickups flowing bedsides and includes sleeping space for three, as well as a built-in wood-burning stove for cooking or staying warm. Admittedly, we question the logic of putting a wood-burning stove in a camper made from western red cedar, but the thing hasn’t combusted yet.
While the camper’s living quarters are rather small, its pop-up top affords an extra sense of space and offers a bed with room for two (the living space offers an additional area for a third person to get some shuteye). Retired sailboat sails were cut and sewn to make the tent sides of the pop-top roof, which also includes a zip-up entry at its rear and porthole windows on its sides. The roof itself, meanwhile, is made of copper and includes an integrated rack for hauling all sorts of camping gear.
Despite producing a mere 73 horsepower from its 1.8-liter flat-four engine (and that’s when new; who knows what it’s making these days), the Brat camper is reportedly capable of getting itself up to speed at a reasonable pace, per a Subaru spokesperson. Stopping prowess, however, is a bit more of an issue, and the same spokesperson shared that the extra weight of the camper takes its toll on the brakes. That said, the little all-wheel-drive Japanese pickup’s middling braking performance doesn’t appear to have stopped it from living a full life on the road, and its front-end features a number of rock chips from nearly four decades of use.
Much like the Brat itself, this custom camper is an awesome creation that surely lacks the comforts and capabilities of its larger counterparts. Sure, we love the looks and impetus of the Brat camper, but we’d rather spend our nights in something with a little more space. Say a camper van such as the just-introduced Mercedes-Benz Metris Weekender.
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