Subaru—both the name and the company—has been around for decades, but it’s slightly outlasted by its parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, which is celebrating 60 years of business. Created from the pieces of several Japanese companies that survived World War II, Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) branched out into a number of manufacturing enterprises, but the most visible of its creations, at least here in the U.S., is Subaru. So what better way to pay tribute to FHI on its big six-oh than to call out five of the coolest Subarus of all time.
Subaru 360 (1958–1970)
The 360′s reason for being is a familiar one: it was designed as a “people’s car” for the economically strained post-war Japanese populace. Much like Volkswagen’s Beetle or Ford’s Model T, the 360 aimed to put a generation on wheels cheaply and reliably, and a big (pun intended) part of that design was the car’s miniscule size. It fit into Japan’s “kei car” footprint bracket, similar to modern small rides like the Honda Beat and Suzuki Cappuccino. As such, the 360′s simple name had less to do with its circular look and more to do with its 360-cc engine size. Setting the stage for the, er, unique-ness of later Subarus, the rear-mounted, air-cooled engine featured two cylinders arranged in a line—sweet.
Subaru BRAT (1978–1993)
If the 360′s odd engine layout was a sliver of a precursor for Subaru’s quirkiness down the road, the BRAT was confirmation that the automaker was something different. Based on Subaru’s relatively pedestrian GL neé Leone, the BRAT was a small, two-door pickup truck with four-wheel drive and a wholly dangerous-looking pair of rear-facing seats welded to the bed floor. Those chairs—which effectively placed occupants’ heads above the highest portion of the roof—were put back there to circumvent the U.S. government’s 25-percent “Chicken Tax” on imported trucks. Roll-over protection? Who needs stinkin’ roll-over protection when you’re driving an awesome small truck with awesomely terrifying rear seats whose name is an acronym for Bi-Drive Recreational All-Terrain Transporter?
Subaru SVX (1991–1997)
Despite naming it one of the biggest sales flops of the past 25 years a few years ago, we maintain that the SVX is one sweet ride. The odd-looking, futuristic coupe featured genuine Italian design penned by none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro. A 230-hp flat-six lived under the hood and powered all four wheels through an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system. To achieve that sleek, wraparound-glass look, only portions of the side windows actually rolled down, which is neat if you think the DeLorean’s similar treatment was just the bees knees. It might have been slightly too forward-thinking for its time and far too expensive, but the SVX was a triumphant tribute to Subaru’s engineering prowess wrapped in its signature outside-the-box thinking.
Subaru Impreza WRX / …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver