It’s hard to know what came first: The Subaru Baja small truck? Or people asking for the Subaru Baja to come back? We'll probably, actually, definitely never know. What we do know, however, is that Atlantic Subaru near Boston has one of the cleanest examples left—and they're asking $59,800 for it.
Clearly, Subaru was ahead of its time with the Baja and the Brat before it. Sold from 2002-2007, the Baja was an Outback with an open bed and a close-quarters 3.5-foot bed, which extended to 5 feet long with the tailgate down. (Early models mounted the rear license plate on the tailgate, which meant it was technically not legal to drive with the tailgate open because it made the rear plate unreadable.)
Originally fitted with an anemic 165-horsepower flat-four engine, the Baja was far more fun toward the end of its life when it was fitted with a turbocharged EJ motor that bumped output up to 230 hp and 235 pound-feet of twist.
The Baja wasn’t really a truck person’s truck to start. Its payload capacity in its short bed was slightly more than 1,000 pounds and it was rated to tow up to 2,400 pounds, which fell short of just about every competitor on the block.
When it arrived in 2002 for the 2003 model year, the Subaru Baja sold for $21,995 (not including destination) in base guise. Fully loaded, the tiny truck ran up a tab of less than $27,000 when it was new. By 2006, the base price was $22,495 and the turbo version commanded just $2,100 more.
So, what we’re looking at here is a 2006 Subaru Baja Sport with a 5-speed manual with less than 10,000 miles, that costs nearly three times its MSRP 16 years ago.
“I think it’s the cleanest ’06 you’ll ever see,” Atlantic Subaru Sales Manager Caleb Weglarz told me. “It’s a great showroom conversation piece.”
Weglarz said he’s heard the price is too high from multiple emails and commenters but insists that it’s an enthusiast car that his boss knows well.
“Our leads ask if we’re crazy, and tell us, ‘This is too much money,’” Weglarz said.
Purchased from Bring a Trailer earlier this year for $41,000, not including fees, the Baja was originally intended for the dealer owner’s home to replace a 350,000-mile Baja that’s been the family workhorse. Unfortunately, the manual transmission became tiresome during short commutes in the Boston suburb where the dealership is located, and the dealer decided to sell the car.
It's been on sale since March, and Weglarz said it reminds shoppers and current owners what a Subie with an open bed looked like.
If Subaru ever does make another Baja again, it’s unlikely to charge nearly $60,000 for a base model. But if you can’t wait for both of those, you have options.