Posted Thursday, April 11, 2024 at 9:56pm

The beginner’s guide to Subaru

What’s Subaru and when did it start making cars?
1958 Subaru 360

1958 Subaru 360

Subaru began back in 1918 as the Nakajimi Aircraft Company, founded by engineer Chikuhei Nakajima. It was Japan’s first aircraft manufacturer, but forced to close in 1945 after defeat in World War Two as the Allies banned aircraft production in the country.

Broken up, five of the companies came together in 1953 as Fuji Heavy Industries. Fuji used to make buses, train carriages, bin lorries, wind turbines and engines for snowmobiles and other utility vehicles, but these days its two main divisions are cars and aerospace.

The 1500 was Subaru’s first car in 1954, but only 20 of them were built before the car was reworked. The 1958 360 (above) was a cute city car that sold nearly 400,000 models in 12 years, designed to the new kei car regulations (the engines were then limited to 360cc, hence the name).