Rare Truck: 1969 Subaru 360 Sambar Pickup

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This rare mini-pickup is a 1969 Subaru 360 Sambar Pickup and it’s located in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It’s listed on eBay with a current bid price of just over $2,000 with less than two days left to get your bids in!

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These little things are rare, and I mean rare. Correctly restored versions can go for up to ten times the current bid price, or more. This is a second-generation Sambar which was made from 1966 through 1973. The somewhat confusing part is that Subaru wasn’t available in the US until 1968 when Malcolm Bricklin started a deal to import the 360 sedan, and the Sambar followed. So, if you ever see an earlier version for sale, do not buy it, let me know first so I can buy it… (hey, a guy can dream)

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You already knew that the engine wouldn’t fit in the front. In fact, I can’t even fit in the front of these pickups, unfortunately. The seat doesn’t move back and there is no way that I can operate the pedals or steering wheel with my knees jammed under it, so this would be an ornament in our living room; but I would still love to have one! The seller says that they bought it to fix it up and they got it running and stopping and then put it into storage. Now the brakes will need work and it’ll need a new gas tank. Your absolute best bet with any Subaru 360 would be to join the Subaru 360 Driver’s Club. The club members are as great a group of folks as you will ever find and they collectively have a treasure trove of experience, information, and spare parts. Here are a few of the missing panels that come with this pickup.

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The interior doesn’t look horrible, which can’t always be said for most 47-year old vehicles that reside in mouse country. Again, if you’re even approaching 6-feet tall, you may want to rethink bidding on this unless you’re planning on displaying it instead of driving it. At 6′-5″ tall, the 360 Club members advised me against getting a pickup due to the fact that the seat is not able to go back any farther. In a Van or a Sedan, the seat can be unbolted and remounted back a few inches which would help, but not in the pickup. That’s a shame, it’s not always as great as people it is think to be tall.

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This is Subaru’s 356 cc two-cylinder, two-stroke, air-cooled engine with around 20-25 hp. That doesn’t sound like a lot, and it isn’t, but this pickup only weighs about 1,200 pounds. But, still plan on a top speed of maybe 55-60ish and plan on taking a half-minute to get there. This pickup is most definitely worthy of a full restoration. You’ll want to do most of the work yourself because these are just fun to work on and are small enough to not take up an entire two-car garage like a full-sized vehicle restoration project would. Have any of you ever owned or driven a Subaru 360 pickup, van, or sedan?

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Comments

  1. Justin Schmidt

    Quirks aside, I’d rather be seen driving this than any new Subaru on the market. When these were new, I think it was Motor Trend who did a 0-60 test between a ’31 Ford Model A and the 360… the Subaru beat the Ford by 2 seconds… I recall the winning time being somewhere around 37 seconds.

  2. fred w.

    I remember reading Consumer Reports test of the car in ’69 (my parents subscribed)
    Found it here:

    http://www.mysubaru360.com/manuals_and_documents/Subaru_360_Consumer_Reports_April_69.pdf

    I especially like the line about , “The dummy in the Subaru ended up emeshed in metal, the dummy in the US car bumped his head”

  3. Bobsmyuncle

    For twice the cost you could get a 90s version with 4×4 and 40 000 miles.

    But… I guess its not about that.

  4. Howard A Member

    These are pretty cool, but you might want to check local state laws on operating “micro-pickups” on the street. New ones like this are used for ranches and other sprawling expanses, off road. http://www.tfltruck.com/2014/08/heres-the-skinny-on-mini-truck-legalities-in-each-state/

    • JCW

      In Pa. A vehicle is a vehicle. There are a few stipulations, if you have antique plates, such as for night driving must have proper lighting. Size is not an issue.

  5. Kim

    I tried one out in 1971 and they were legal on all roads except freeways.60 mph is about tops. But it did get about 60 mpg of mixed gas. (Two stroke) They were only slightly cheaper than a Subaru FF1 which I did buy. And it ran on regular gas.

    Like 1
    • JCW

      Some roads have a minimum speed special my King Midget cannot do Interstates or most 4 lanes.

    • Daniel Rawinsky

      I bought my 1971 ff1 1100 SW from Million Auto Parts, El Paso, TX in 1975. It had been Gene Horn Olds parts department runner and someone ran it into a pole. I paid $400.00 for it. I scoured the junkyards for OE parts. Hood, fender front seats. It needed CV joints and I learned how to rebuilt them when no one knew what a CV joint was. I hated the inboard front drums which the CV joint bolted onto with 3 bolts which could not be undone more than 1/6 th turn at a time. Then the big nut on the drum. It had 35,000 miles on it when I bought it. Now it has 160,000. The last time I went to move it from one side of the yard to the other it doubled up in the middle. I thought the station wagon was the biggest interior for the small size of the exterior. I hated that car. It was uncomfortable. The drivers seat had a brace which went from left to right just under my butt. I could not wait for that car to die. Finally in 1987 the last set of leaky wheel cylinders did the car in. That set was a brand new set that I got from Subaru of America, then located in Little Rock. Before that Subaru of the South was located in a warehouse off of Jefferson Highway, New Orleans, Louisiana. I went to the warehouse often since the local Subaru dealer, Paretti Pontiac Jaguar, did not stock Subaru 360 or ff1 parts. Anyone interested in this or any of my other Subaru’s let me know. I have a 1300G and 1600 engines. My 1981 1800GL SW which I drove until 310,000 when a deer hit it. I got all the parts including a new radiator but I could not get rid of an electrical issue which made it charge at 18v all the time. I even replaced the wiring harness, alternator, instrument panel. Finally a tree hit it during Katrina. I have several ff1 windshields which were not broken but are now getting some cracks in them. I also have several other body parts for ff1’s. I wish I could by a brand new ff1 1300G with some up dates like brakes. Subaru finally went with front disk brakes with the 1400G but that was just not the same car as the ff1 even though it did have the clam shell tailgate. The ff1 SW body was big enough to put a 9 drawer dresser and two night stands in and go down the road with them.

  6. Terry

    Prime candidate for a Hayabusa transplant.

  7. Scotty Staff

    Auction update: this great little pickup sold for a ridiculously low price of $3,333.

  8. Andy

    GE’s huge plant in Schenectady apparently had several of these to get around their hundred-plus acres, because I’ve seen pickups and vans with GE markings in a Schenectady junkyard, and there was a place on the west edge of Rotterdam, NY, that had at least one among their Citroëns and Isettas.

  9. Metoo

    Whenever they have one of these for sale in the U.S. for sale, the ad should include a average size adult person standing next to it and sitting in the driver’s seat just for scale.

  10. Daniel Rawinsky

    Ed Parsil from Tucson, AZ. owned the Subaru 360 club which I was a member of for many years. I listed my ff1 for sale, and later give away, but no takers. I visited Ed in Tucson and he gave my wife and me a ride in one of his Samba vans. He also had what he claimed to be the worlds smallest fire truck.

    Like 1

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