Rare Truck: 1969 Subaru 360 Sambar Pickup

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Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

This rare mini-pickup is a 1969 Subaru 360 Sambar Pickup and it’s located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It’s listed on eBay with a current bid price of just over $2,000 with less than two days left to get your bids in!

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These little things are rare, and I mean rare. Correctly restored versions can go for up to ten times the current bid price, or more. This is a second-generation Sambar which was made from 1966 through 1973. The somewhat confusing part is that Subaru wasn’t available in the US until 1968 when Malcolm Bricklin started a deal to import the 360 sedan, and the Sambar followed. So, if you ever see an earlier version for sale, do not buy it, let me know first so I can buy it… (hey, a guy can dream)

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You already knew that the engine wouldn’t fit in the front. In fact, I can’t even fit in the front of these pickups, unfortunately. The seat doesn’t move back and there is no way that I can operate the pedals or steering wheel with my knees jammed under it, so this would be an ornament in our living room; but I would still love to have one! The seller says that they bought it to fix it up and they got it running and stopping and then put it into storage. Now the brakes will need work and it’ll need a new gas tank. Your absolute best bet with any Subaru 360 would be to join the Subaru 360 Driver’s Club. The club members are as great a group of folks as you will ever find and they collectively have a treasure trove of experience, information, and spare parts. Here are a few of the missing panels that come with this pickup.

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The interior doesn’t look horrible, which can’t always be said for most 47-year old vehicles that reside in mouse country. Again, if you’re even approaching 6-feet tall, you may want to rethink bidding on this unless you’re planning on displaying it instead of driving it. At 6′-5″ tall, the 360 Club members advised me against getting a pickup due to the fact that the seat is not able to go back any farther. In a Van or a Sedan, the seat can be unbolted and remounted back a few inches which would help, but not in the pickup. That’s a shame, it’s not always as great as people it is think to be tall.

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This is Subaru’s 356 cc two-cylinder, two-stroke, air-cooled engine with around 20-25 hp. That doesn’t sound like a lot, and it isn’t, but this pickup only weighs about 1,200 pounds. But, still plan on a top speed of maybe 55-60ish and plan on taking a half-minute to get there. This pickup is most definitely worthy of a full restoration. You’ll want to do most of the work yourself because these are just fun to work on and are small enough to not take up an entire two-car garage like a full-sized vehicle restoration project would. Have any of you ever owned or driven a Subaru 360 pickup, van, or sedan?

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Comments

  1. Justin Schmidt

    Quirks aside, I’d rather be seen driving this than any new Subaru on the market. When these were new, I think it was Motor Trend who did a 0-60 test between a ’31 Ford Model A and the 360… the Subaru beat the Ford by 2 seconds… I recall the winning time being somewhere around 37 seconds.

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  2. fred w.

    I remember reading Consumer Reports test of the car in ’69 (my parents subscribed)
    Found it here:

    http://www.mysubaru360.com/manuals_and_documents/Subaru_360_Consumer_Reports_April_69.pdf

    I especially like the line about , “The dummy in the Subaru ended up emeshed in metal, the dummy in the US car bumped his head”

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  3. Bobsmyuncle

    For twice the cost you could get a 90s version with 4×4 and 40 000 miles.

    But… I guess its not about that.

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  4. Howard A Member

    These are pretty cool, but you might want to check local state laws on operating “micro-pickups” on the street. New ones like this are used for ranches and other sprawling expanses, off road. http://www.tfltruck.com/2014/08/heres-the-skinny-on-mini-truck-legalities-in-each-state/

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    • JCW Member

      In Pa. A vehicle is a vehicle. There are a few stipulations, if you have antique plates, such as for night driving must have proper lighting. Size is not an issue.

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  5. Kim

    I tried one out in 1971 and they were legal on all roads except freeways.60 mph is about tops. But it did get about 60 mpg of mixed gas. (Two stroke) They were only slightly cheaper than a Subaru FF1 which I did buy. And it ran on regular gas.

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    • JCW Member

      Some roads have a minimum speed special my King Midget cannot do Interstates or most 4 lanes.

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  6. Terry

    Prime candidate for a Hayabusa transplant.

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  7. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Staff

    Auction update: this great little pickup sold for a ridiculously low price of $3,333.

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  8. Andy

    GE’s huge plant in Schenectady apparently had several of these to get around their hundred-plus acres, because I’ve seen pickups and vans with GE markings in a Schenectady junkyard, and there was a place on the west edge of Rotterdam, NY, that had at least one among their Citroëns and Isettas.

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