Quadrupled In Value: 1970 Subaru 360 Deluxe

If you’re someone who has always dismissed the Subaru 360 as a joke of a car, worthless, junk, whatevs, never be worth anything, etc., you’re wrong, it’s just that simple. They have literally quadrupled in value over the last year. That’s one year, not over the last decade, just the last year. This 1970 Subaru 360 Deluxe is listed here on eBay in Baraboo, Wisconsin and the current bid price is $3,500 with no reserve. Baraboo is home to the famous Ringling Brothers and the Circus World Museum. That being said, these are not clown cars anymore in today’s market.

Running or not, this Subaru 360 is a mind-bending steal at $3,500. You could literally put $20,000 into the restoration without coming close to the value of this car in nice condition today. I kid you not. Hagerty is bullish like nobody’s business on the Subaru 360 Deluxe with a #2 fair condition value of – are you sitting down? – $11,500. That’s fair condition. #3 good condition? A mere $29,800. #2 excellent condition = $44,300! You don’t even want to know their #1 Concours condition value. Ok, it’s $54,600. No, there isn’t an extra zero in there, that’s $54k. Fifty-four thousand buck-dollars. Start saving now.

I’ve been watching the rise in values of these cars over the last few years as a Subaru 360 fanatic would do, but now it’s just past the point of sanity and/or insanity. $5,000 would get you a very nice one in drivable condition a few years ago so, at least given current values and Hagerty’s numbers, this car has to be worth three times the current bid price all day long. Thoughts? Not thoughts as in what it was worth when you were growing up or what you think it should be worth, but what they’re actually worth right now in today’s market.

Most of us know the story of how Malcolm Bricklin, along with Harvey Lamm who rarely gets credit, imported them and basically started Subaru of America single-handedly. Or as single-handedly as Bezos started and ran Amazon in the beginning, as in with probably dozens if not hundreds of “helpers”. Still, Mr. Bricklin gets the credit for bringing Subarus across the pond. Unfortunately, those cars were the 360.

They were resoundingly trounced upon by car magazines and consumers alike as being not just bad cars, but downright dangerous. Still, as everything else is being snapped up in a post-Covid global turmoil frenzy of flashing your wealth around, despite worker shortages and folks with no money, those who are making even more money than ever are throwing it towards anything and everything. These little cars are red hot right now. This, my friends, is an investment car, it’s that simple. The seats look perfect in the correct weave and color. They only came in white on the outside with red seats. The Young S model had individual bucket seats in front but the Deluxe sedan only came with a red bench seat and split-back in the front and bench seat in the back.

This car has issues but was reportedly restored to some degree by a past owner. Brakes are a big issue with these cars – brakes, brakes, brakes. If you log onto the Subaru360DriversClub.com website, a fantastic resource of known experts and really nice folks, you’ll see a ton of articles about brakes. The drums are exposed in the wheels, those are the outside of the finned drums, not a fancy wheel or wheel cover. This one has a long way to go to be a really nice car, but again, if our friends at Hagerty are even remotely in the ballpark, this one is a steal at anything under $7,500.

Drop a Hayabusa and/or SBC in it, either one will fit and both have been done. If we’re still on the investment car mindset, keeping it original spec is the way to go. The engine is a two-stroke 356 cc twin air-cooled beast with 25ish horsepower. It isn’t currently running with an oil pump issue, another fairly common ailment. A rear-wheel-drive rear-engine car has its benefits – they have great traction and are easy to steer, but the drawback is having a very light front end and those reverse-opening suicide doors have been known to pop open at speed so there’s that. Still, the trust fund babies and internet millionaires who are driving up the market on old vehicles right now don’t drive them, they keep them on a velvet pillow in a warehouse and doors don’t pop open just sitting there in a warehouse. Let us know your thoughts on anything and everything to do with this car, and the absolutely crazy old car market, in general. Would you pay $50-large for a perfect Subaru 360?

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Comments

  1. Engident

    “Hagerty is bullish like nobody’s business on the Subaru 360 Deluxe”… I totally misread this on the first pass. Freudian reading.

    Like 7
    • Steve Clinton

      I think you are right.

      Like 4
    • Packrat

      They were underpowered for an American market dominated by pre-emission V8s and muscle cars, and made of slightly thicker metal than a child’s friction toy. I learned from one of the Barnfinds stories on these cars that they came off the boat with severe rust–which if true is unconscionable from a Pacific Rim manufacturer who is familiar with tropical humidity. Nevertheless, it is obvious that thought and pride went into its spartan visual layout. “post-Covid global turmoil frenzy of flashing your wealth”. How careless of me to not have wealth to flash going through These Uncertain Times. We have Mu after Delta, so ‘ackshually’ I’m thinking we should leave the “Post-Covid” banner and balloons rolled up in the office supplies closed for a little while longer.

      Like 5
    • John

      A word is misspelled.

  2. Todd Fitch Staff

    Only a real car lover like yourself would pour gasoline on the fire of where these little cars are going price-wise. A more selfish journalist / collector would report “There’s no way this bubble won’t burst soon.” (Now where’s that Buy It Now button?) If I see one at a garage sale for $800 I’ll buy it for you! Thanks for another great write-up!

    Like 12
  3. Ralph

    I understand your POV Scotty. Yet these were total death traps with terrible levels of non performance. They were never a popular car in the USA. In fact near the end Subaru could hardly sell any of them. Hundreds ended up in the crusher or junk yards, dealers were afraid to try to sell them as fear of lawsuits loomed ever larger. These things made the Vega/Pinto look like well built and engineered cars.
    As to values, or valuation, well even a gold plated turd is worth money to some folks. Recent car values reflect this: there is little correlation between “actual value”, and worth. YMMV.
    Having had a long time experience with these, you could not ever give me one, let alone expect me to pay for one. Near the end of their run the Feds were considering outlawing the importations strictly for safety reasons. They were non survivable in accidents above 15 mph.
    Thanks for your write up just the same. What folks will pay for something rare does not make sense to me, the world has gone nuts.

    Like 11
    • Howard A Member

      You aren’t the only one. Toward the end, I believe they gave away a 360 with every Oldsmobile purchase, or something. I agree, we’ve come a long ways, but back then, nobody knew where the car market was going, we were still driving LTD’s, and such. Small cars were just a novelty then. Didn’t take long for Americans to come full circle and buy small cars.

      Like 1
    • David Frank David Frank Member

      Comparing historically significant, or at least interesting cars to today’s rides is, well, silly. By those standards cars like the Model T fail by a long shot. It’s an interesting car from an interesting time that didn’t compare well to even cars of its day. Judging every car by how much you would like to own it, well, luckily none of us are the center of the universe. One can, however, wonder why someone would choose to own cars like a Subaru 360 or Citroen 2CV. Well… someone has to! If that isn’t you, then who cares what some, uh, interesting person is willing and able to pay crazy money for one. Great Scott! Thanks for another fun writeup but I think you’d need a convertible version!

    • Gerard Frederick

      We sold these jokes at Pontiac Plaza in Portland, Oregon in the mid 1960´s. The price insanity is the same as in the art world where pure, unmitigated trash sells for millions. Anyone who participates in such madness deserves the rude awakening which must come.

  4. Steve Clinton

    This proves if you hold on to a car long enough it becomes collectible.

    Like 4
  5. Steve Clinton

    Subaru is on track to outsell all other Japanese imports in the US. In 1970 who would have ever believed that!

    Like 6
    • MrBZ

      Yep, and all that with really only 2 advantages over any of their competition: marketing and all wheel drive. I was looking for a new small family car around 1991-92 and decided to test drive a new Suby. Not the least bit impressive at that time, and considerably more expensive than other options. Their lots were full and it looked like they were going down for the count. Now, they are everywhere.

      Like 1
  6. Stevieg Member

    It’s right here in the land of milk & beer, eh? I live in Milwaukee, but I have been all over the state, I know people, mainly relatives, in every corner of this state. I don’t know too many people in this state that would fit in this car.
    Cute little car though. I’d have to get 2 of them, one for each foot.

    Like 6
  7. JoeNYWF64

    A good alternative to what Dreyfuss drove in “American Grafitti”, even as a 2 door.
    I would not take either car out cruising! lol

    Like 2
  8. Steveo

    Cut the floors out and give it to a toddler as an alternative to a Big Wheel.

    Like 3
  9. Chester

    Girly man car.

    Like 2
    • Jimmy Novak

      See, I think that about guys with high pickups and big tires. Like a compensatory sort of thing, in a manner of speaking.

      Like 4
  10. Cobra Steve

    I’m beginning to have second thoughts about selling my Renault Dauphine….

    Like 1
    • Charles

      The Dauphine was of similar U.S. suitability as the 360, and as I recall, after I’d traded mine for a Mini Cooper in ‘65, Renault ran ads apologizing for the Dauphine in the American market.

  11. Cobra Steve

    I am beginning to have second thoughts about selling my Renault Dauphine…

    Like 2
  12. Cobra Steve

    Make that third thoughts.

    Like 3
  13. Fernando Abruna

    I have one Subaru 360 Deluxe, very much like the one reviewed.
    I purchased it for $5K some six years ago and spent ± $8K on it’s restoration. I have seen their value slowly, but surely, accumulating and seen them jump in value in the past two years. BUT…I did not buy it as an investment, I bought it, as a Microcar colector, because I like it’s quirkiness and the fun drives I get from it. By the way, I live in Puerto Rico where the car is seldomly seen and that makes it extra special to me.

    Like 1
  14. Steve RM

    I seriously doubt that these cars are a good investment. If they really sell for what Hagerty says that they’re worth, I think people that buy at these prices are in for quite a shock when whatever is currently driving these prices collapses. Those prices can’t be sustainable. A friend in high school had one and they are terrible little cars. People won’t be buying them to drive.

    Like 1
  15. Stan

    They’re small. I’m 6’1” and sitting in the driver seat I was able to reach over my shoulder and touch the rear window. When they couldn’t give them away when new I saw an article in car and driver or road and track were somebody was having a demolition derby with brand new ones.

  16. Keith Johnson

    All microcars (Isettas, Messerschmidts and the like) are all inexplicably high-priced. Is it because they are just so odd? I saw a few Isettas around when I was little, but I never hankered after one until I was older. 2CVs are much better cars and more practical, but even though they get a good dollar now, they’re still cheaper to own than an true microcar.

  17. David C

    Where do you insert the wind up key?

  18. Kim

    My father purchased a 1971 Subaru FF1 which was the top model for Suby and the engineering on this homely but reliable sedan was amazing. The 1100cc flat 4 was mated to a FWD four speed with inboard brakes on the front. This allowed them to put the steering ball joint out into the wheel which they called “center point steering” there was no wheel scrub and no steering wheel reaction to driving through slush, water, snow, or even striking an obstacle. The ball joint lined up with the center of the tire. In later years they dropped that technology because it did not add to the sellability of the car. It was apparent that buyers were only interested in style not engineering.

    Like 2
  19. Kevin Burke

    1969 Consumer Reports – Unacceptable.
    Whenever I saw a Subaru I think of this one. They’ve come a long way.

  20. PairsNPaint

    Anyone want to buy some GameStop shares?

    Like 1
    • DavidC

      Don’t sell GME!

  21. Cristiana

    I remember these cute little 360s were the cheapest car available in the U.S. at the time, but they could hardly give them away. While adequate for Japanese driving conditions (25 mph, short distances), they were totally unsuitable for most U.S. driving. Malcolm Bricklin first imported them in 1968, launching Subaru of America Inc. – the rest is history!

  22. John

    I owned one of these. I didn’t buy it, my Dad did. His plan was to tow it behind his Winnebago. Bad plan. It needed a trailer. Actually a good thing because the trailer was needed frequently. It broke a lot. When it was running it was dangerous. It couldn’t keep up with traffic and when it got to speed it took just as long to get it stopped. These may be cute but they are very poor cars. $800 at a garage sale? Still too high. Someone has chemical dependency issues at Hagerty, I hope. If not, car collectors are sure getting to value strange machines

  23. Willowen Member

    “They’ve come a long way”: understatement of the decade! My 360 was a van, not the sedan, but with same underpinnings … and I am sure it had the only chassis on earth that could not deal safely with 17 hp – which was what my owners’ manual claimed. Hop forward 30-some years, and my ’01 Forester is almost as agile at elevated speeds as my Alfa Milano, if not quite as much at home there.

    As for the leap in market value, well, there’s a big market for Coors Light, too. One can but shake one’s head sometimes.

  24. NoPistons4Me

    I have owned two Subaru 360s (Paid less than $300 for each) in my lifetime and that is quite enough, thanks you very much.

  25. ramblergarage

    This has got to be the worst car ever built. I had one with 9,000 miles. Broke down every time I drove it. Mine had the auto clutch which was a nightmare.
    I have nothing good to say about it. I also had a 2 cyl NSU Prinz which was a fantastic car and built like the original Beetle.
    The 360 put me off on Subaru to this day.

    • Willowen Member

      I would not give up that easily. As bad as the 360s were, any Subaru available now is at least a well-built and competent car. My 2001 Forester was bought in ’05 with about 86K miles on it, and is now going perfectly at 215K. It has been well maintained by a good garage, needing very few replacements of joint boots and similar bits, and some bodywork owing to Pilot Error … The new ones are simply too big for my taste, so I’m keeping this.

  26. Bunky

    Family friend bought a red ‘69 360 brand new in ‘71. I believe he paid $1200. His wife used it selling Avon. Got 52-3 mpg. Don’t recall any mechanical issues. Wouldn’t want to get in a collision in one, but I guess the same could be said for a motorcycle. 🤷‍♂️

    Like 1
  27. Bob Washburne

    I’m holding out for the Lada bubble.

  28. Bob Washburne

    Or, god forbid, the Trabantaning.

  29. DavidL Member

    This is a beautifully restored car but just as it was in 1970, it’s still a POS car. They are cute and this one certainly is but it was, I believe, the first car Consumer Reports recommended against. It might make a nice accent piece in a living room if the room was big enough but still too dangerous to drive. The list of problems is long and I wouldn’t be caught dead behind the wheel in traffic or anywhere lest I be found dead behind said wheel.

  30. Kim

    The close up of the dash shows a lot of rust where that much rust shouldn’t be. Interior rust. A paint job can cover a multitude of sins.

  31. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this project 360 Deluxe sold for $7,111.69!

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