Chikuhei Nakajima was an engineer officer with the Japanese Navy who became interested in aviation and set up as an aircraft manufacturer in the 1920s. His company became the second biggest supplier of warplanes in Japan during the Second World War. After the war aircraft production was forbidden, and the company was dissolved. The remaining entity was renamed Fuji Sangyo, which produced Rabbit scooters, followed by the Subaru 360 Kei-car in 1958 and the Sambar light commercial vehicle in 1961. Encouraged by their US distributor, Subaru made ‘proper’ cars from 1966 with the Subaru 1000 four-door saloon, the first mass-produced Japanese front-wheel drive car. Subaru became known for its horizontally-opposed engines and four-wheel drive, which brought rally success and subsequent good publicity for the company. Successive models using this world-beating formula included the Leone, Legacy, Impreza, Justy, Outback and Forester. Subaru continued to produce ranges of small Kei-cars for Japanese buyers alongside the larger cars which sold so well in export markets. The parent Fuji company also produced aircraft, buses and scooters in the postwar years.
Here we tell the story of Subaru as it entered its second century in existence.