Subaru history tells how the Japanese automaker became renowned for its practicality before entering the world stage. While the West didn’t get a taste of Subaru for a few decades, today they remain fun consumer vehicles known for their discreet look, fantastic performance, and safety scores.
Read on to learn how Subaru became a name brand and evolved into the famous modern automaker.
Subaru History: The Early Years
As with the history of many car brands, Subaru began as a merger between several Japanese manufacturers. Together, these parties formed the Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., which contained an automotive department. This team, called “Subaru,” revealed its first finished automobile in 1954. The Subaru P-1, or 1500 as it was later named, boasted a four-cylinder engine and a monocoque body. No other car had been designed for the Japanese market with these features.
The next model, the 360, emerged in 1958. Due to its cute shape, it became colloquially known as the Subaru Ladybird and put the brand on the map in terms of trendy consumer vehicles. They produced a decade of Ladybirds due to the model’s demand.
Subaru’s Transition Years
“Subaru” means “unite” in Japanese, likely in reference to the conglomerate that formed it. It also echoes the brand’s popular appeal, which united trending design concepts with user-friendly utility. On that note, Subaru debuted their first truck in the 1960s based on the 360. The truck became famous for its narrow design owing to the equally narrow streets in crowded Japanese city districts.
Subaru then unveiled their 1000 model in 1966, which created the signature Subaru design that continues to this day. This car utilized a front-wheel-drive and a horizontally opposed engine – it was the first car to do so. That setup remains a mainstay of high-performance consumer vehicles.
The 1000 performed so well that Subaru created its North American branch by the end of the 60s. The introduction of exports to Subaru’s lineup sealed its reputation as a globally relevant automaker.
Subaru History in the Modern Day
In the 70s, Subaru unveiled their sedan, which became renowned for its utility in harsh winter driving conditions and steep elevations. This rewrote the book on Subaru’s reputation, making it a mainstay of skiing, camping, and fishing vehicles. This sedan climbed the ranks of world sales until it was the top-selling 4WD in the world. They continued to debut new trucks and 4WD models based on this success.
In the 1990s, Subaru won the World Rally Championship for 4 consecutive years, becoming the first Japanese company to do so.
Subaru history involves innovations in consumer utility in terms of handling and performance. The steady Japanese manufacturer continued to improve their designs and improve their safety scores, which now lead the industry. Their trucks, sedans, and other 4WD vehicles remain staples of sporting and recreation use, as well as practical consumer vehicles for everyday driving.
Those who drive Subaru cars relish their outstanding handling scores as well as their safety features. International consumers have become a part of the brand’s history, enjoying the results of its innovations by continuing to support the Japanese auto giant.