The SUBARU 360 is a rear-engined, two-door city car manufactured and
marketed from 1958 to 1971 by
Noted for its small overall size, 1,000 lb curb weight, monocoque
construction, swing axle rear suspension, fiberglass roof panel, and
rear-hinged doors, the inexpensive car was designed in response to the
Japanese government's light car or
Nicknamed the "ladybug" in Japan, and ultimately superseded by R-2 , the 360 was one of Japan's most popular cars and was available in a single generation in two-door, station wagon, "convertible" (coupe with roll-back fabric roof) and sport model variants.10,000 were sold in the United States, imported by Malcolm Bricklin — advertised as "Cheap and Ugly."
The nameplate 360 derived from its tax-limited engine displacement: 356 cc.
* 1 Design * 2 Performance * 3 Variants * 4 Export * 5 Legacy * 6 Future * 7 Notes * 8 External links
EK31 engine of
The 360 featured an air-cooled, 2-stroke inline 2-cylinder 356 cc engine mounted transversely at the rear, and was introduced March 3, 1958.
As with the two-stroke Saab 93s and other small two-stroke gas engines, oil was needed to be pre-mixed with gas, with the fuel tank lid serving as a measuring cup. In 1964, the "Subarumatic" lubrication system provided automatic mixing via an under-hood reservoir.
Floor-mounted controls located between the driver and passenger seat included choke, heater and fuel cut-off — the latter to accommodate gravity fed fuel which obviated the need for a fuel pump. The initial production featured a full metal dash board and three-speed manual gearbox, while subsequent models featured a partially padded dash with an open glove compartment, pop-out rear quarter windows, split front bench seat, map pockets, a four-speed manual and optional three-speed-based 'Autoclutch' transmission — the latter which eliminated the clutch pedal and operated the clutch via an electromagnet.
Final assembly included wheel alignment, brake testing, chassis dynometer, headlight testing, and high-pressure water spray testing.
In contrast to the
Equipped with a 3-speed manual transmission, the 360 had a top speed of 60 mph (96.6 km/h), and with a curb weight under 1000 pounds, the 360 was exempt from compliance with US safety regulations. Consumer Reports recorded a 0-60 time of about 37 seconds and reported 25–35 mpg‑US (9.4–6.7 L/100 km; 30–42 mpg‑imp), despite Subaru's claimed 66 mpg‑US (3.6 L/100 km; 79 mpg‑imp). When introduced in 1958, the 360's engine produced 16 hp (12 kW). By the end of production, power had increased to 25 hp (19 kW) with a 36 hp (27 kW) twin-carbureted engine optionally available, achieving 100 hp per liter. The performance and size limitations were largely the result of it having been engineered and designed for Japanese driving conditions, as the speed limits in Japan are realistically set at 40 km/h (24.9 mph) in urban areas, with average driving distances at 5–8 mi (8.0–12.9 km) per day.
Several variants were produced, including a station wagon (called the
CUSTOM), a convertible , and two sport models known as 1) the Subaru
YOUNG S, which had a slightly upgraded (EK32 "F") engine and
transmission (4 gears instead of 3), bucket seats and a tachometer
along with a black, white striped roof with a dent along the middle to
put one's surfboard, and 2) the
From 1961 onwards, a flat-nosed truck and van called the Sambar were
also produced using the 360's engine, with arrangements similar to the
Volkswagen Transporter in a smaller size. Many small businesses became
very successful thanks to the pickup's small size for tight streets,
quickness, ease to drive and great fuel economy. In Japan between 1960
and 1966, an export version, known as the
A used car dealer in Ballarat, Victoria (Frank O'Brien) brought
From 1968, approximately 10,000 were exported to the US, with an
original price of $1,297. The 360 was imported to the United States by
Malcolm Bricklin before he later manufactured his own cars . The
Sales soon collapsed, and there were various rumors of
In the 2000s, the 360 remains a popular subject for collectors, and
model cars among other mini-cars such as the
For many years,
* 1950s portal * 1960s portal * 1970s portal
* ^ New Subaru, The Autocar, 4 November 1960, page 821
* ^ "