Subaru 360 History
Photo: Fuji Heavy Industries
Subaru 360s were the first line of vehicles produced by Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru. The 360 first made an appearance on March 3, 1958. The 360 designation refers to the displacement of the engine, 360cc. In Japan, this also signifies the tax bracket into which they fall. In the Japanese vehicle tax system, smaller displacement means cheaper taxes, and these cars were the smallest of the small. Also, because of its ladybug shape, the 360 sedan has been known as the "Ladybird" all these years in Japan.

The Subaru 360s were imported to the US in 1968 by Malcolm Bricklin. Unfortunately, they were not received with much enthusiasm and sales were lackluster, with most remaining unsold even three years later. The 360 retailed for about $1300 USD and rumors exist of one dealer offering six for only $2000, brand new! Subaru officially ceased production of the 360 in 1970.

These little beasts came in four different body styles. Two sedans, the standard, painted white, and the sport model, called the "Young," which came in yellow. 360s were also available as vans, which are more rare than the sedans, and even rarer still, the 360 pickup. Some specialized 360s were imported privately, some of which are owned by Club members. These include convertibles, utility cars, wagons, and some one-off vehicles.

Those that did buy the 360 new found parts and service difficult to find, since Subaru did not officially import them and thus was not obligated to honor any type of warranty or parts agreement. This, of course, served to form the foundation of the Club.

360 Specifications

Vehicle Dimensions
Length:2990mm / 117.7in
Width:1300mm / 51.2in
Height:1380mm / 54.3in
Wheelbase:1800mm / 70.9in

Engine Specifications
Bore:61.5mm / 2.42in
Stroke:60mm / 2.36in
Displacement:356cc / 21.7in
Compression Ratio:6.5 : 1
Power Output:25hp (Standard) / 36hp (Young SS)

All of the 360s imported into the US have the same engine, a 356cc 2-cylinder, 2-stroke, oil-injected, air-cooled, horizontally-opposed engine with 25hp. Young SS models, which was not imported to the US have dual carburetors, chromed pistons, and reed valves for 36hp. Pre-1964 360s, although of the same displacement, had less power and used premixed oil and gas. The engine on all 360s resides in the rear of the vehicle, like the original VW Beetle and the Porsche 911. The 360 motor is essentially a snowmobile engine.

All 360s have 2-piece 10" wheels with tubes. Original Minis also have 10" wheels.
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