Eight Ladybirds Under the Porch

Subaru 360s under the porch

We have found cars parked in a number of interesting places, ranging from basements to living rooms. After seeing a Corvette walled into a grocery store, finding a car parked under a porch isn’t all that unusual to us, but finding eight 1970 Subaru 360s parked under a porch isn’t a common sight. The 360 was Subaru’s first Kei car and gained a surprisingly dedicated following. As you can see, the owner of this collection obviously liked them enough to buy eight of them and park all of them under their porch, although prior to being under the porch six were in a barn and two were in a garage. This could be a great chance to buy your own small fleet of micro cars, so take a look at the collection here on eBay, with a BIN of $12k.

Micros under the Porch

While we would love to see all of these Subarus put back on the road, realistically it would make more sense to build one or two complete cars, using the rest as parts cars. What’s left could be sold off to help with transportation or restoration expenses. The time spent parked in the barn and under the porch has left most of these rusty and dilapidated. The seller admits to having bought all these cars so they could build one nice driver, so hopefully that doesn’t mean that these have been stripped of their hard to find bits. The seller has a storage unit full of parts that they are including in the sell, so hopefully there are more than enough pieces left to build several cars.

Eight Subaru 360s

With quirky styling, a small 356 cc two stroke motor, and seating for four it’s easy to see why it was such a success in its home market, yet didn’t do well in America. They were so popular in Japan that over 390k were built and sold there, they even gained the affectionate nickname of “Ladybird”. Only about 10k were imported to the states by Malcolm Bricklin (creator of the Bricklin SV-1) and did well initially, but bad press and poor safety ratings tanked sales and left many 360s unsold. Sales in other markets remained strong until production ended in 1971 and its replacement the R-2 was introduced. Most American Subaru owners have likely never seen or heard of the 360, but from this Kei car the Subaru brand saw its first success and has since grown to become a major player in the automobile market.

Subaru Young SS
Source: Wikimedia

The 360 came in a number of variations, including a van, truck, and even a roofless yacht variant built by Bricklin, but our personal favorite is the Young SS. It was the sport version and came painted with racing stripes, special badges, and a high performance version of the 356 cc motor. The twin carburetors, chromed pistons, and improved valves upped power output to 36 horses. It still wasn’t a speed demon, but the added power certainly helped with performance. Given that the Young SS was never imported to our shores, we would be more than a little tempted to turn one of these into a clones. Finding all the correct pieces would prove to be a challenge, but that would be half the fun! The other half would be driving it and taking it to shows. We imagine it would draw lots of attention and might even grab the interest of a few young Subaru STi owners.

Subaru Ladybugs

Depending on how complete these are and the parts that are included, the seller’s asking price might not be too bad. The major issue we see here is transporting all eight cars. It’s expensive and time consuming to ship just one car, image moving eight at once! Transporting all of them will involve either getting a large car transporter or making lots of trips. If you’re near Radcliff, Kentucky it might not be too difficult a task, but getting them across the country would make them significantly more expensive. We would love to have them, but we aren’t sure we want them that bad. How about you?

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Comments

  1. Josh Staff

    Within moments of posting this collection the listing was removed. Apparently someone thought it was too good a deal to pass up! As a consolation here are a couple other 360s that are for sale: Running 1970 Subaru 360 Base and a Project 1970 Subaru 360 Deluxe

    They might not be the incredible deal that the collection of eight was, but if you have to have a 360 they should give you the fix you’re looking for!

  2. Mark E

    Where were they located? That’s the most important question for most of us…that and whether or not you have the yard space (and friendly neighbors) to take on a project like this. If these were within a hundred miles of me, I’d be sorely tempted…you could transport them, one at a time, in the back of a full sized pickup!!

  3. Josh Staff

    They are located in Radcliff, Kentucky, but it looks like someone already beat you to them.

  4. jim s

    since a space like that can not be left empty, how about 8 mini coopers or 16 midges/sprites ( double stacked of course ). maybe a ton of motorcycles. as for the 360s i wonder where they will end up and how many fit in a shipping container. the blue/white one sure has big exhust pipes for what motor.

  5. Dolphin Member

    I can definitely understand jim’s Mini Coopers, or lots of Spridgets or vintage bikes, but 8—EIGHT, count ’em—Subaru 360s! Who’d have thunk it!?

    And if memory serves, wasn’t it one Malcolm Bricklin who brought them in? And didn’t Consumer Reports call the 360 the most unsafe car in America?

  6. DH in Iowa

    I own a Subaru 360 and most of these look like parts cars. Mine was stored inside for 32 years. Of course the brakes were wasted. That’s what usually parks these cars. They would all easily fit in a semi trailer for transporting. A car carrier would be useless, the runners are too far apart. Someone could do well selling parts on Ebay. That’s where I found most of my parts. Not much on there anymore, unless you’re looking for J.C. Whitney type stuff.

  7. MikeH

    Does anyone know if Japan has a collector mindset? Almost all western countries have car collectors and remanufacture parts for their cars–England, France, Germany, etc. I’ve never heard about the Japanese collecting cars. I know they have some of the weirdest laws in the world, concerning cars. I’ve been there and the junkyards are full of pristine cars going to the crusher. And, the Japanese are dedicated to the newest technology with little reverence for antiques. With 390 thousand 360s built, one would think that parts from Japan would be readily available–if anyone cares.

    • Jim-Bob

      There is an old car culture in Japan, but being that it is an island the size of California with a population half that of the entire US, there really isn’t anywhere for most people to put them. The majority of Japanese car people pay shops to do their work for them as there is not a large DIY culture like there is in the US. The exception is in the rural areas, where people have old cars stashed away on farms. In the city though, you are fortunate to be able to have parking enough to fit a kei car, let alone space enough to dismantle a car and rebuild it.

  8. Raymond F. Pittam

    That is like the real small Fiat’s, There was a bunch of them parked on a lot so tight you could not walk between them. This is a square City Block. The owner would not deal on one, Be said the only way they went was buy one and all the other’s go for the same price. You buy one you had to take them all. If I remember there was something like 150 or more on the lot. It was a much bigger thing than I could handle so I contacted a Salvage Company and he went in and bought everyone of them for a song. We then hauled them on my Trucks and he allowed me my pick and we made one great profit on the lot. I learned years ago, Never weigh anything for what Advertising represents. I learned anytime you really want anything, You have to buy it by a Lot.

  9. Jim-Bob

    I almost want one to try and make an electric city car from it or even try to repower it with an engine from a 500cc motorcycle or quad bike. I wouldn’t want to cut up a pristine original but one of these I wouldn’t feel guilty about.

  10. Paul B

    Scariest car I ever drove. Look at those swing axles. Death on four wheels, if you could even get going fast enough to jack the axles. I tested a new one at a dealer. It made a 2CV seem like a Daimler Limousine. A moment in history, but good heavens, a Honda N360 is ever so much more competent.

  11. John

    Why is it that so many really cute little cars are also horrible little cars?

    I, too, almost bought one of these back about 1976 or so. It was little, cute, and not very old. It was also rusting. EVERYWHERE. Someone told me that the cars had too high a sulfur content in the steel and that they didn’t really rust, the dissolved. Whatever, this nearly new little car already needed body and paintwork, so I passed. It was horrible to drive (think early VW with no rear shocks). But it had to be the cutest little car that had ever been invented. My wife wanted it to keep for our daughter who would not come along for another several years. It would not have lasted that long — even under a porch.

  12. Don Andreina

    There is a book called ‘Where the Suckers Moon’ about Subaru and its marketing in the 90s. This book says the 360 was such a disaster in the States, Bricklin took the unsold stock and made a racing series. Perhaps we are looking at some of those racers here.

  13. Bill

    I have vivid memories of a friend who was 6′ 8″ tall, and drove a big 1935 Packard 12 coupe. In 1970 we drove the old Packard into the Subaru dealer and my friend feigned interest in the 360 coupe, telling the salesman he thought it was time to trade the old Packard in on a car that got better than the 6 MPG! It was with great effort I kept from laughing as that poor salesman tried his best to get my friend into a Subaru. And I don’t mean the slang meaning of sell a guy something, but actually trying to get my friend INTO the car. Never happened! He even offered to remove the fiberglass roof panel/rear window assembly so my friend’s head could be above the windshield. I guess he figured on providing a motorcycle helmet & goggles too! (True story!)

    And as I recall, Consumer Reports declared the Subaru 360 “Unacceptable”, the ONLY car they ever declared “unacceptable”. They also said the front bumper was only capable of deflecting a watermelon rolling down the roadway.

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