|Subaru car history|
Out of Japans Post-war turmoil, a new company, Fuji Sangyo was formed from the remains of the Nakajima Aircraft Co.
This eventually became Fuji Heavy Industries, their automotive division, Subaru, produced its first car, the 360 in 1958.
In 1966 the 1000 Deluxe pioneered the use of front-wheel drive in Japan, utilising a horizontally opposed "BOXER" engine configuration,.
By the 1970s Subaru developed the first of its flat-four 'boxer' engines and launched its first four-wheel-drive model, a version of the Leone launched in 1971.
The Rex, launched in 1972 looked like a classic Japanese sub-mini, but it was unusual for having a rear-mounted twin-cylinder water-cooled engine.
1975 saw the company reach a total production figure of 2 million
Nearly four million variants of the 1600 and 1800 Subaru models were built between 1980 and 1989, with front and four-wheel drive.
The 4wd systems progressed from simple 'add on' dog clutch engagement to full-time drives, with centre diffs.
The Justy supermini was launched in 1986 with 1.0 and 1.2-litre three-cylinder engines and, of course four-wheel drive. The tiny Vivio made a brief appearance on the UK market during the 1980s. This had a tiny 658cc four-cylinder engine.
In 1989 the company moved upmarket with the Legacy range.
All the Subaru trademarks were there, with 2.0 and 2.2 flat-four engines and a sophisticated 4wd system and with, unusually for this type of vehicle, a low-ratio transfer box.
The larger-engined estate car even had height-adjustable air suspension. This unique combination made the Legacy many friends in country areas. Its Appeal was widened further with the Mk2 version, with a 2.5-litre quad-cam version of the flat-four engine.
At the same time as Legacy appears, Subaru launched the SVX. (There had been a high-performance coupé before, in the XT of 1989-90. The 136bhp turbo engine gave performance, but the tasteless interior and other gimmicks made it less than appealing.) The SVX was a very different matter. It had the appearance of a concept car, yet it was practical.. The 3.3-litre flat-six engine gave 230bhp, driving, through all 4 wheels.
Modifying the basic Legacy platform. Subaru introduced the Impreza in 1992, with it going on sale on the UK market in 1994.
Models ranged from the docile front-wheel-drive saloon and hatchback to the quick Turbo. The rally version of this car, developed in conjunction with a British motorsports firm won the international rallying manufacturer's championship for three years 1995-7 and has achieved cult status. The Impreza is the Escort Mexico of the 90's
1997 saw the introduction of the Forrester, essentially a further development of the Legacy platform. But ruggedised further.
Many of Subaru's British customers are the opposite of those people who by an off-roader but only go to the supermarket in it. Subaru's combination of comfort, reliability and four-wheel drive has enabled it to corner a sub-Land Rover market for customers who need four-wheel drive but want neither the utilitarian nature of a basic 4x4 nor the expense of a full blown topend 4*4 like a Range Rover.
The Forrester, with its practical combination of estate, off-road, and 4x4 characteristics, illustrates the Subaru niche perfectly