Rare Boxer: 1971 Subaru FF-1

1971-subaru-ff-1

This 1971 Subaru FF-1 isn’t the best car ever to come out from Japan, but it is actually a very rare vehicle. Very few of these boxer powered compacts were ever shipped to the States and of the few that were, most are either rusted to the point of no return or have already been crushed. The seller doesn’t say much about it in their craigslist ad, but they do claim that it runs. If that’s the case, then the $1k asking price might not be too bad. Thanks goes to M. Patterson for the tip.

1971-subaru-ff-1-interior

Both the interior and engine bay look to be in decent shape, but both could use some work. This one isn’t for everyone, but we are sure there are a few Subaru fans out there that would love to have this for a project. The question of whether or not to restore it will obviously come down to how much the next owner likes it. You definitely won’t pass another one on the interstate or likely anywhere else for that matter.

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Comments

  1. Dick

    I bought a new 1970 FF 1 and loved it. Also bought a new 360 the same day and loved it as well. Have owned several 360’s since.

  2. Kristi Evans

    I LOVE this car!!! I’m a big fan of sporty econo-boxes. I’ve had three Fiestas – ’78, and 2 ’79’s. The problem is, when you dump tons of money into these cars, you don’t get it back, it has to be a labor of love. Still, no regrets (except that I sold my last one).

  3. Bryan Cohn

    Begging for a WRX driveline swap!

  4. Kristi Evans

    I wish I had several useless thousands to restore this Subaru.

  5. Don Andreina

    Read an interesting book about Subaru launching itself in the US with the 360. Was such a disaster they took the 360s in left stock and tried to turn them into a racing series. Still, Subaru took AWD to its logical place on road cars.

    • paul

      Yes Don but you can go back & look at Honda, Toyota, Hyundai,Audi & so many others when they first came on the scene & what they have transformed into.

    • Kris_01

      “They”? You mean “Malcolm Bricklin”. Hey, he had to do something with the leftover cars. By 1971 they were getting long in the tooth – apparently all the 360s were imported in 1968 in one big shipment, and it took up to 3 years to have the leftovers sold.

  6. Lon Lofgren

    I had a ’79 BRAT that I bought for $700, and I loved it, but I was worried about using it as a daily driver. Tucson drivers are so bad, I thought I might ruin a classic, so I sold it to a collector for $2K!

  7. Subie Gal

    Sadly a rusted hulk of what it used to me.

    Even though I need the parts desperately for my FF-1 restoration,
    I wouldn’t touch it at that price. It’s a parts car and nothing more.

    https://sphotos-b-sjc.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/536711_10151654519364934_850602631_n.jpg

    Looking for parts or a parts car for my FF-1 If anyone has any leads!

    • Danny

      I have had several ff1 station wagons. I had to cut up two of them. I kept the doors, glass, engine and transmissions. I have a couple of 1100 engines, and a 1300G engine. My own ff1 I bought for $400.00 in a junk yard in El Paso Texas. I drove it from 1975 until 1987 when I finally gave up on the front brakes which I had rebuilt several times and they still leaked. The were the killer of that car. I still have the car, it is a rusted hulk. I also have the other parts which I took off the cars that I cut up. I offered them for sale in the Subaru 360 Club but there were no takers. I replace the ff1 with a 1981 1800 GL which I drove until 2002. A deer hit the car and finished it off. I still have the 1981 1800GL also. I then bought a 1995 Escort which I drove until a valve seat migrated through out the engine and I have plans to rebuild that car since the body is perfect.
      ff1 1100 Subaru Station Wagon was a favorite car for me. I have several axle shaft with both joint in good shape. I have engine and transmissions, some body parts like door and tailgates. Please contact me, I would like these parts to go to a good home.

      • jorge

        Hello Danny,
        I know a guy who might be interested in your parts

      • Paul

        Hi Danny
        Just a long shot. Just wondering if you have the FF1 parts still?
        Thanks

  8. Dave H

    If it’s like most older Subaru’s, it doesn’t have any brakes. And parts only exist on Ebay or from other owners..
    Early 70s cars didn’t have parts at the dealerships that sold them.

  9. Mark E

    I vaguely remember these. Grew up in a small town but there must have been a Subie dealer somewhere ’cause there was a TV repairman with a 360 van and number of cars around town in the ’70s. Boy, that is some serious rust though – if you ran over a bump or railroad tracks hard enough, I bet you could make the rear window fall out! (or IN, as the case may be…)

  10. jim s

    what is that car in the background of first picture? subaru has come a long way and with toyota now helping it is going to get even better, i think. that being said this is one that needs to be used for parts. the rust has made an already weak body much worse, i think.

  11. Clay Bryant

    Had a Subaru 360. years ago and had the local newspaper lady over taking some shoots for an ad.I told her to get her camera ready as I was only going to do this once. I lifted the front up by the bumper even with my belt buckle and we got a great shot. She took it back to develop it,said it came out great but I completely forgot to go over and pick up a copy.Don’t recommend it for people as it will “strain your milk”! Good laugh though.

  12. Joe Howell

    I’d take that nice yellow air filter off, replace the element and then slide another FF-1 underneath it.

  13. John Cargill

    One Dollar, plus seller pays shipping.

  14. sixthgear

    Sometimes, a 42 year old rusted out cheap japanese car is just that…hard to understand why somebody would invest precious time and money into something like this.

    • Kristi

      I doubt anyone will. I love these cars – but this one is too far gone (unless a wealthy or resourceful econobox geek comes along).

  15. Jamie Wallhauser

    I think I’m with the overall consensus on this one, the car just looks too far gone and let’s face it, the styling was awkward at best which I suppose is part of it’s charm. Can’t get over how much those hubcaps look like the corresponding 1971 Toyota Corolla 1600 hubcaps. Coincidence?

  16. c young

    The 360 was actually not imported by Subaru. It was imported by Malcom Bricklin. He set up the dealerships himself.He also brought us the Yugo. Subaru never sold the 360 at its dealerships. My brother bought a 71 FF 1 new. It cost $1989. Had front wheel drive when the only US cars to have it were the Toronado and El Dorado. Dad referred to it as his “Japanese Cadillac.”

  17. mike

    i’ve had about 5 FF1’s, If they sit for 6-months or more, the inboard brakes leak, and you have to change them….not an easy task. I gave up my collection of them when I couldn’t find brake parts for them…. Good luck

  18. Dave

    I had a 72 FFi coupe when I got married. Got 45 MPG on our honeymoon running all over the back roads of NH and ME and averaged about 40 MPG in daily rush hour commuting. Trunk had enough room for our tent and other camping gear. Great little car. I’d trade my classic 1986 Mercedes 300E for one like that any day. (My Mercedes is lucky to give 15 MPG in town on premium and any parts that have the Mercedes peace sign on them require a second mortgage on the house to buy.) I put 50,000 miles (mostly hard in and out of Boston commuter traffic driving) on that little car before I traded it and only did the trade because the Mazda RX-3 rotary became available.

  19. Danny

    FREE! 1971 ff1 1100 engine, 1972 ff1 1300 engine, 1600 engine. Body parts: ff1 doors, hood, tailgate which are in a shed.

    Someone can have all the parts and parts cars (2) if they come and get them. I am in south Louisiana. These cars did not get flooded. Free to anyone who needs these parts.

    I still have my 1971 FF1. It is solid rust, many good parts like glass, other than windshields of which I have 2 or 3 that might be usable. I still have 1100, 1300 and a I believe a 1600 engines.

    I also have my 1981 GL station wagon, mostly full of spare parts and very rusty. Katrina dropped a pine tree on the drivers side windshield. Many usable parts which are getting rusty by the day.

    I don’t know why anyone would want to restore these rust buckets. I loved my 1971 ff1 which I bought from Million Auto Parts, El Paso, TX. It had been hit on the right front corner. I was able to find all the parts to fix it from junk yards around the country. When the ff1’s were unusable we started to drive more modern cars like my Subaru 1800GL station wagon, my wifes Chevy Spectrum, Ford Escort and Ford Aspire. The car most like the ff1 is the Honda Fit. Big on the inside, small on the outside, gets good gas milage. We had to look hard and long for a Fit with a standard transmission. The Fit has electric windows, mirror’s, CD player, rear wiper, power steering, AC. I do not need all this and would have loved to have an ff1, but with real brakes. The Fit is a good car. I have 65,000 miles on it in 9 years but it took a long time to like this car. The biggest defect in the design is the tailgate opening is too narrow. I have never used the rear seats and they stay folded down. This gives me room to carry tools, chain saws and things I do not want to leave in an open pick up bed.

  20. JPBart

    I had a used 1960s FF1 with a VIN ending in 004. Chilton manual said 1st FF1 in US had a VIN ending in 001. So that was pretty cool.
    Next car was a 1975 yellow Honda CVCC. Loved that car. My favorite vehicle of all time. The 5 speed was a blast to drive and great during the gas shortage in the 70s.
    Tried to duplicate the experience with a yellow Honda FIT. Great car, but I’m too big and old now and need my creature comforts.
    So, I’m reverting to my FF1 days by looking closely at the Subaru Forester.

    • SubieGal

      Forester and FF1 are strikingly similar! You can totally see the heritage

      Like 1
  21. Bruce

    Bought a 72 ff-1 in the Syracuse,NY area in 72 for $ 2100 out the door. Taxes,freight prep,plates,etc. Drove car back and forth to Tempe,AZ to go to school 8 times. Never skipped a beat. Absolutely loved that car. So far ahead of it’s time. Aluminum boxer engine,fanless water cooling,spare over engine to save space in trunk and put even more traction over front wheels, independent suspension,rack and pinion steering, reclining seats,manual choke,parcel shelves,map light with rheostat, 70hp from 1300cc motor. Absolute bear in the snow,nothing stopped it. Only thing that killed it was rust from the CNY salt laden roads. Wish I could re-live that 1st car feeling.

    Like 2
    • Daniel Rawinsky

      That and even more. The most interior space for the outside size. Mine was, still is, 1971 ff1 1100, a station wagon. I also bought a used 1972 1300G station wagon, both used. But, crank up window which came loose from the regulator, front brakes that were a real pain, the most uncomfortable front seats. I took the rear seats out. One time my wife and I took her two girls, my 3 kids and my ex-wife and her additional 2 kids out to eat. As we spilled out of the car someone gave us a strange look. We just told them we were ________! I cut up the 1300G. I have all the engines and transmissions, some doors and tailgates. Come and get them before they rust away.

  22. Daniel Rawinsky

    That and even more. The most interior space for the outside size. Mine was, still is, 1971 ff1 1100, a station wagon. I also bought a used 1972 1300G station wagon, both used. But, crank up window which came loose from the regulator, front brakes that were a real pain, the most uncomfortable front seats. I took the rear seats out. One time my wife and I took her two girls, my 3 kids and my ex-wife and her additional 2 kids out to eat. As we spilled out of the car someone gave us a strange look. We just told them we were ________! I cut up the 1300G. I have all the engines and transmissions, some doors and tailgates. Come and get them before they rust away. The ff1 1300G in your picture looks just like mine did before I tried to move it and it broke in half. I still have the parts. The Forester does have the heritage of the ff1. But I do not want all wheel drive, power seats and other stuff.

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