Subaru, Who Knew?!

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Subaru has been making a name for itself in Australia since the 1970s, but the first Subaru to ever be created was built in Japan in the 1950s.

What is now a worldwide car brand began as an aircraft manufacturing company. According to the archives, Subaru’s first president, Kenji Kita opted to name the car company “Subaru” which in Japanese means “the name of star cluster in the Taurus constellation. Six of its stars are visible to the naked eye, but about 250 bluish stars can be seen if one uses a telescope.”

In 1954 Subaru designed their first vehicle, the P1, later called the Subaru 1500. Only 20 were manufactured. Later the tremendously popular Subaru 360 was released in 1958, and they were produced until 1970.

Their first truck, the Subaru Sambar was released in 1961, and according to the Global History Website, “With the Sambar, Subaru became firmly established as a manufacturer of light passenger vehicles.”

In 1966 Subaru’s head office was relocated to Shinjuku, and this was also the same year that they released the four-door sedan, The 1000. The 1000 was famous for its front wheel driving.

Before 1971, Subaru’s four wheel drive vehicles were only created for off roading, but the Subaru Leone changed all that, though they hadn’t reached Australian shores.


Subaru arrived in Australia in 1973. When they arrived, Australians had the option of choosing between an All-Wheel Drive or a Brumby. In the US the Brumby was known as the “BRAT” standing for Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter. It was popular internationally.

In the 1980s the Liberty was unveiled in Australia, called a Legacy in other parts of the world. Things got really busy in the 90s, with the Outback and Impreza arriving in Australia. Interestingly, both cars won “Wheels of the Year” in Oz in the 2000s.

In 2011, the Forester enjoyed its fourth consecutive year as Australia’s Best-Selling Compact Sports Utility Vehicle. By 2015 Subaru had sold 200,000 Foresters in Australia alone.

Subaru is a relatively young company and their marketing and storytelling styles for different countries are interesting to asses. They regularly run a “share the love” campaign, where they don’t even show cars in their advertising. According to this Forbes article, “Share the Love is where Subaru makes a $250 charitable donation in the buyer’s honor, in addition to more typical lease and finance deals. In 10 years, Subaru has handed out almost $115 million through the campaign.”

Their headquarters are now in Tokyo, and the only overseas manufacturing facility they have is in Lafayette, Indiana. Their Lafayette plant has achieved “a zero landfill status”.

We regularly feature Subarus for sale on our Carzoos website. If you’ve got Subaru fever, let us help match you up with one!