Monday, October 3, 2011

Subaru 360

This was, for all intents and purposes, Subaru's first car.

It's hard to believe now, but just 50 years ago most of Japan's population did not own a car. (Motorcycles were the main mode of motorized transportation.) The 360 was one of the first Japanese "kei cars". Kei cars are small, usually inexpensive cars that are exempt from many of Japan's tax, insurance and parking regulations. The idea was to put more cars into the hands of more people in post World War II Japan. Kei cars have remained popular. Most Japanese car manufacturers still make kei cars today.

The 360 was introduced in 1958. It had a rear mounted 2-stroke inline 2-cylinder 356cc engine. It came with a 3 speed transmission. It had a top speed of 60 MPH and it took 37 seconds to get there.

The 360 was very popular in Japan and Malcolm Bricklin (who else?), later of Bricklin, Bertone X1/9, Pininfarina Spider Azzura and Yugo fame, thought there might be a market for them in the US. He was wrong. Imported for just one year, 1968, many took 3 years or more to sell. The 360 retailed for about $1300.00, but there is a popular story of one dealer offering six brand new ones for $2000, just to get rid of them.

This 360 (listed as a 1970 model, but that's most likely the year it was first sold and registered) very obviously needs restoration, but looks to be fairly complete. If you're looking for a project and something unique to bring to car shows, this car may be worth checking out. (Although the asking price seems a bit on the high side.)

Located in Johnson City, TN, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Real "su-BAH-ru" ads from 1969.


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1 comment:

rrshadow2 said...

the coolest thing about the 360 is those commercials you posted from youtube! What kills me is that the Mini stopped being sold in the US in 1967 because they couldn't make it pass the stricter safety and emissions standard put forth in 1968, Yet somehow the 360 was able to be sold after that point with no problems