Happy Little Project: 1971 Subaru 360


I know it isn’t for everyone, but I just couldn’t resist this little Subaru! Seriously, how can you look at it and not smile? These have to be one of the happiest looking cars ever built, I’d say the only car that might have a bigger smile is the Bug Eye Sprite. While Malcolm Bricklin imported about 10k of these to the US, you don’t seem them very often. This one is going to need work, it looks quite solid and has said to be in storage for the past 30 years. It has a clear California title and is ready for someone to come along and save it! You can find it here on craigslist in Costa Mesa, California with an asking price of $3,950.


These are notorious for rusting out, so it’s nice to see that this one doesn’t have any holes or serious decay. I would want to check the floors and structural points for any rust that might be hiding still. Given that it’s likely spent its entire life in California, it may prove to truly be rust free. No word is given on the condition of the engine, but these are fairly simple to work on and are more closely related to a motorcycle than anything else.


The whole car is looking dusty, so I’m going to guess it was parked with windows down. The seller swapped the bench seat out for Porsche 914 buckets. They actually look quite nice and fit the car well. At first glance, I thought they were original, but then I remembered that’s a feature found on the Young S and SS models. I’d actually leave these buckets right where they are, but hopefully the original bench seat is included, as those are a bit tricky to find.


It might need work, but this looks like a really fun project. I think you could have it back on the road in just a couple of weekends and while it wouldn’t be a highway cruiser, it would be a fun little street car. Think how happy you’ll feel ever time you see it smiling back at you when you open the garage or are walking toward it in the parking lot! If it were closer, I’d be tempted to take it on as my next project. So what do you think of the face on this little Subie?


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  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    This is a killer deal! The bucket seats threw me off because 100% of Subaru 360 Deluxe models came with a red vinyl bench seat in the front but those seats are perfect in there! There isn’t an indentation in the roof for a surfboard (no lie) as on the Young S/SS editions (the SSs were all right-hand-drive) and no dash photos to see if it has a tach, only available on the S/SS models, so I was thrown off on what the heck model this was. Wow, in looking at the underside photos, yeah, this is a steal. The air cleaner also threw me off but that and the seats both look great to me. The engine is a one-weekend deal to get back into shape again. Nice find, Josh!

    • Dick Johnson

      When I bought my new one in 1970 the dealer had a Young SS and it was left hand drive.
      I believe that these cars are fine on the freeway s and it never bothered me to drive mine on long trips. I have also owned the vans and drove one 35 miles each way to work on San Diego freeways and loved it.
      Of all of them I have owned I have yet to see one rushed out. Yes they are great cars and I wish I could afford this one.

      • Dick

        That should say rusted out not rushed out. Sorry for the wrong spelling.

    • Danny

      I was a member of the Subaru 360 club out of Tucson. The editor was a guy who was a preacher. He had a Sambar based fire truck. I kept my membership up so I could put my add in for my 1971 ff1 wagon. I wanted to sell it, or give it away. The engine ran but the body fell apart after 160,000 miles. I still have it if anyone is interested.

    • JCW Jr.

      That’s just wrong wrong wrong.

  2. Joe Nose

    SBC (VERY s sbc) and 2sp since it’s half a car anyhow.

    Like 1
  3. DrinkinGasoline

    Would have been perfect for Pixar’s “Cars”. I can see that skinny front bumper curling into a thin smile !

  4. Dick

    Sorry but now I see them. Thanks.

  5. Blindmarc

    A friend had a silver one in the mid 70’s. No power with 5 teenagers in it. Nowadays I’d put a big bore sport bike engine in one.

  6. RichS

    haha @ Pregnant Rollerskate license plate

  7. OCSwede

    Saw one of these at El Mirage on the Land Speed circuit.

  8. angliagt

    Looks like both the Hamsters are still there.
    Anyone else remember FasTrack? They had a bunch
    of these 360s with a roll cage welded around the bodies.
    They ran on a dirt track – $1 a lap,almost like Malibu Grand Prix.
    I remember seeing one of these tracks,next to Orange-
    County International Raceway,in 1970.

  9. Chas

    Very nice example of the Subaru 360, and probably worth close to asking price, but these never draw very much money, which is a shame, because they are very reliable and a blast to drive.
    This one has the wrong carburetor and air filter, and the wrong mufflers, and the steering wheel must have been removed for a reason, and the engine is not working, so be careful as you can buy running, driving examples for similar or lower prices or really nice examples for slightly more money.
    The engine is simple, but it is a bit of a complex project to rebuild and some of the necessary parts like pstons and cylinders can be difficult to find and pricey, so unless you can get some assurance that the engine has compression, be careful.
    If however, it does have compression, you will likely luck out without the need for a full rebuild and have years of fun for not much cash or effort.
    Lots of fun in a pint sized package.

  10. Rex Rice

    Many Subaru dealers started with these. These cars have come a long way..

  11. microwerks1

    I have more than 20 Subaru 360 s and a whole pile of other French ,German and Italian and more. need parts or projects I may start selling them off

  12. Charles

    @microwerks1: I could use some Subaru 360 parts, especially wheel cylinders for coupe, truck or van as well as Fiat 500 parts. Do you have these parts?

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