Live Auctions

1969 Subaru 360: Running Ladybug


The owner of this 1969 Subaru 360 found it in pieces several years ago in a garage where it had sat neglected for 14 years. He has reassembled and mechanically restored it and has been driving it regularly ever since. His website shows some of the difficulties in finding and recreating some of the parts necessary to get it running. His struggles explain why so many of these are just sitting. If you scroll down through his listing here on eBay, he provides in great detail the work he has done to restore his Ladybug including casting his own intake manifold. With renewed interest in micro cars and rising values, the tiny 360 deserves attention. Current bidding on this one is currently just over $4000 with the reserve not met.


After the second world war, when Japan proposed a “national car”, and regulations for an affordable car car, Subaru developed the 360. Its weight of 1000 pounds a 356cc engine and cost of about $1000 met the requirements and the ladybug was introduced in 1958. The engine is an air-cooled, 2 stroke inline 2-cylinder mounted sideways in the rear. On the early Ladybugs, you had to premix the oil the gas. There was a handy cup built into trunk lid to measure the oil. Unique features include “suicide doors”, unibody construction, a gravity feed fuel system and a fiberglass top. There was also a van version of the 360. The first models had 16 HP, the later ones 25HP. There was even a high performance dual carburetor model with 36 HP. Malcom Bricklin imported 10,000 of these to the United States. These little Subarus sell for 10,000 or more, which seems like a lot for so little but other mini cars sell for much more. Would this be a fun little project? It wouldn’t take up much room, and would be fun to drive. There is a very active Subaru 360 owners club for parts and help.


  1. Howard A Member

    Isn’t that cute? Truth be known, these were pretty bad cars for US roads. I believe, this was America’s 1st exposure to the Subaru brand, and look what happened. At the time, they were so unpopular, I think a car dealer gave one of these away with every “normal” car purchase. Consumer reports said it was one of the worst cars of all time, sighting crash worthiness and lack of power ( 0-50 in 37 seconds) as major problems. Subaru would probably like to forget this car, but it was the beginning of quite a successful car company. ( Subaru’s are probably the best Asian car out there) I had a friend with one of these in their barn. Never did get it going, and my friend said, when it did run, 45 mph was tops, ( downhill, downwind, with no one else in the car) Be great for a “gated” community or local rides.

  2. Grr

    Pointless waste of resources.

    • David Frank David Member

      Why a waste of resources? Like all micro cars they are very limited in just about every way, but they provided basic transportation to a lot of people. There are many historically interesting and important cars out there that will be hopefully preserved. How would Consumer Reports rate a Model T?

      • Grr

        The Model T was not nearly as far behind the curve in its day as this was…

  3. moosie Craig

    way, way, back when these little gems made the scene in the USA there was a dealer in Orangeburg N.Y. and to see these cars “zipping” ? around was pretty common. I remember a friends father calling them watch FOB’s on wheels .

  4. Clay Bryant

    We had one of these one time and while it was in the shop the newspaper lady that took pictures for our ads came in. I told her to get her camera ready as I was only going to do this once and I proceeded to get in front of this thing and lifted it up to my belt. I was 6’2″/285 lbs. but it really “strained my milk”. She said she would develop a “pic” for me and I could get one later. One of my greatest regrets in my automotive career was forgetting about that until many years later and not getting a copy. Don’t know if I could lift a headlight assembly on one now………………..

  5. Tom Stewart

    Before he imported them, he had Subaru shave enough weight off so they actually qualified as ‘covered motorcycles’ and got around a lot of regs that way. After Consumer Reports issued their ratings, sales tanked. Bricklin literally had trouble giving them away. Subaru of America almost tanked and the parent company had to step in and take over, buying Bricklin out and kicking him from the company. After that he tried to import the Spider and failed, next: the Yugo.

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