Tiny Survivor: 1971 Subaru 360

At about the same time as Honda was breaking into the subcompact auto market in the U.S., along came Subaru. The latter imported the 360, a rear-engine, 2-door city car produced in Japan from 1958-71. It was the company’s very first automobile and output reached 392,000 units over 12 years, although only a small faction made it to these shores. The seller’s ’71 Subaru 360 is a little dinged up for being 50 years old and is said to be complete, although we don’t know if it runs. Located in Shoreline, Washington, the seller’s asking price is $6,500 here on Facebook Marketplace.

The 360 received its name from its tiny 356cc engine as everything about the car was small. With monocoque construction, the little cars only weighed 1,000 lbs. They were designed to be inexpensive small commuters perfect for the crowded roads in Japan and met that country’s “Kei car” regulations. With the help of entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin, the little cars were exported to the U.S. during 1968-71. During this time, 10,000 of them came over before getting red flags over safety concerns and their general lack of power. That earned them the “Not Acceptable” label by Consumer Reports and buyers became few and far between.

This Subaru 360 is from the car’s last year of production. It’s off-white with several dings and dents in its tiny body. We’re told the Subaru is corrosion-free other than a couple of spots of surface rust. The red interior is spartan and but doesn’t look like it would be comfortable after a long ride. Its reported mileage is 14,000 which could be accurate as being on a second time around doesn’t seem likely. The seller believes that the brakes have been redone but there is no mention of any needed work. Hard to believe that these cars came from the same company that produces the Outback and Forester today.

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Comments

  1. ramblergarage

    one word for those JUNK!

    Like 1
  2. Troy

    Is that little hatch below the back window where you put the wind up key?

    Like 2
  3. Steve Clinton

    Speaking of survivors; Subaru survived in spite of this POS!

  4. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Of all of Bricklin’s failures in the automotive business, which one is the biggest?

    Subaru 360, SV-1, Yugo?
    My vote is Yugo, just for the sheer numbers.

    Bricklin: shrewd marketer or disgusting conman?

  5. Kurt Member

    Bet it gets good mileage!

    Like 1
  6. peter irlenborn

    Many years ago, there were a hundred-plus of these parked in a fenced-off lot at Fort Mason in San Francisco, on the way from the Golden Gate Bridge to Lombard Street. They sat there for many months, awaiting those ‘eager’ buyers…….never saw one of them on the roads during that decade.

    Like 1
  7. Charles Sawka

    Absolutely dangerous

    Like 1
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      True, and Bricklin knew it. He tells it like this: Subaru did not want to bring the car into the U.S. because they did not want to spend the money to make it so that it would pass the automobile safety standards.
      Bricklin read the rules and found that they only apply to vehicles weighing over 1000 pounds, and the 360 was below that, so he promised Subaru that he could get the cars approved, and I guess in a way, he did.
      It wasn’t until Consumer Reports got ahold of one that the bad publicity started and then they couldn’t even give them away.

  8. Michael L Gregory

    I have a friend with one of these as well as some vans from the era and my favorite thing about the car is the 3-D Subaru logo on the front. I always thought their logo was cool, but to see it in that form is even better. Every car company has to start somewhere, and Subaru learned from their early efforts and is now producing well-built cars with a cult following.

    Like 1
  9. chrlsful

    an actual clown car (1 of these) sat at the junker for yrs till scooped up. Had the logo on the side (of some circus or Shriners, sompin, 4got now). All ways wondered what became of it!

  10. Terrry

    Subaru also built and imported a van version of this. Same engine and everything.

  11. DavieL Member

    $6500 for a ’71 Subaru which was a total POS when it was new and we don’t know if it runs??? Rave on!

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