The (abridged) history of Subaru
The word “Subaru” is the Japanese name for the cluster of six stars also known as the Pleiades, and there’s strong bond behind the name. In 1953, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) — now known as Subaru Corporation — was incorporated as an aircraft manufacturing, marketing and maintenance company. Soon after, FHI merged with five other Japanese companies to form a six-sided, diversified conglomerate specializing in a range of different industries, including automotive (through Subaru).
The first prototype car to emerge from this new company was the P-1, which debuted in 1954. Designed to comfortably seat four adults while providing a stable and comfortable ride, the P-1 would eventually be renamed the Subaru 1500 and become the first car in history to sport the Subaru badge. Here’s a quick look at some of the other historical highlights that have powered Subaru over the years.
1950 - 1959
Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) is formed
The FHI P-1 automotive prototype is unveiled.
An instant best-seller in its domestic market, the Subaru 360 is released.
1960 - 1969
The introduction of the Sambar microvan.
The Subaru 1000 is released, highlighting the first use of the horizontally opposed SUBARU BOXER engine.
The R-2 minicar is released.
1970 - 1979
The world’s first mass-produced 4WD passenger car, the Subaru Leone 4WD Station Wagon, is released.
Long before the popularity of crossover vehicles, the Subaru Brat, with a two-seater passenger cabin and small cargo bed, debuts and becomes a cult hit.
1980 - 1989
The popular and economical Subaru Justy debuts.
The third-generation Leone comes equipped with Subaru full-time AWD.
The Subaru Justy showcases the world’s first electro-continuously variable transmission (ECVT).
Subaru Tecnica International (STI) is established.
The Subaru Legacy, equipped with a SUBARU BOXER engine and All-Wheel Drive, is launched to critical acclaim.
1990 - 1999
The first full year of participation in the WRC with the brand new Subaru Legacy.
Subaru introduces the SVX high-performance luxury coupe.
Equipped with the same engine, AWD system and suspension as the Legacy in a smaller and sportier package, the Subaru Impreza is introduced.
The Subaru World Rally Team (SWRT) captures the first of three consecutive Manufacturers’ Titles with the Impreza WRC; lead driver Colin McRae wins the Drivers’ Title.
The handling and practicality of a wagon combined with the ground clearance and the safety of a sport utility vehicle: The Subaru Outback arrives to set a new standard for crossovers.
Subaru introduces the Forester, a compact vehicle that delivers the ride and handling of a sedan blended with the ruggedness of a true SUV.
2000 - 2009
Subaru unveils the Baja at the North American International Auto Show.
The Subaru Legacy is named Car of the Year Japan.
The high-performance, rally-inspired Subaru Impreza WRX STi is brought to North America for the first time.
The Subaru Tribeca, the largest and most luxurious vehicle in the line-up, is introduced.
The 50th anniversary of Subaru.
All Subaru models receive the highest possible rating from the IIHS, a “Top Safety Pick” designation, marking the first of many consecutive years the entire fleet has been recognized.
The 2010 Subaru Legacy and Outback feature the new Lineartronic CVT, which allows both to achieve FWD fuel economy numbers and AWD performance.
2010 - Present
The Subaru Outback is named Utility of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
The EyeSight® advanced driver-assist system is introduced in Japan and is named Car Technology of the Year by the Japan Automotive Hall of Fame.
The Subaru BRZ is introduced.
The Subaru XV Crosstrek is introduced.
The North American debut of EyeSight.
The BRZ receives the Car of the Year Japan “Special Award.”
The Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is released.
The Subaru WRX STI captures the SP3T class win at the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race for the third time.
The Subaru Legacy is named “Car of the Year” by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).