Nate Wade Subaru of Salt Lake City, Utah is the oldest Subaru dealer in the United States. It just celebrated its 50th anniversary, and recently had the honor of selling Subaru’s 10 millionth car in the US. That car was a 2019 Impreza, but also joining in the festivities was a little Subaru 360, the company’s first and only model offered when it opened its doors in 1968.
The 360 was introduced to the US by businessman Malcolm Bricklin of Bricklin SV-1 fame (or infamy, depending on how you look at it). He happened upon the cars as he was preparing to import Fuji Rabbit scooters, made by the same parent company as Subaru cars, Fuji Heavy Industries. Somehow, Bricklin convinced investors in the US to sell the 360, even though the car was famously unsuitable for local conditions and even garnered a “Not Acceptable” rating from Consumer Reports.
Subaru sold just 332 cars that first year. In the 80s, Fuji Heavy took over Bricklin’s Subaru of America and actually began selling the new wave its modern cars like the Loyale and Justy in earnest. This year, Subaru expects to sell 700,000. “It took us 41 years to achieve our first five million sales,” said Thomas Doll, President and CEO, Subaru of America, “and just over 10 years to achieve the next five million.” The 10 millionth car was bought by seven-time Subaru owner Dr. Craig Harmon for his daughter.
I’d choose character over class any time – give me the 360!
Does anybody know if Fuji Heavy Industries did any contract work for any other makers in the ‘60s or ‘70’s? It’s a mystery to this day of seeing a Subaru transporter hauling what I would swear were Ford Pantera shells back in the day.