Subaru was borne out of Fuji Heavy Industries in Japan which became involved in car manufacturing in the 1950s. The Japanese name Subaru, comes from the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster. The first Subaru car was named the Subaru 1500. Only twenty were manufactured in the early days. Afterwards, the company designed and
manufactured dozens of vehicles including the 1500 (1954), the tiny air-cooled 360 (1958), the Sambar (1961), and the 1000 (which saw the introduction of the Subaru boxer engine in 1965).
It was the advent of AWD that really started the Subaru popularity. Initially, Subaru AWD required pushing a button, which eventually became full time AWD. By the late 1980s, boxy looking AWD Subaru’s were a common sight wherever North Americans went camping, hiking or fishing.
Toward the end of the decade, SACL was bought by Subaru Canada and brought under the Fuji Heavy Industry umbrella. The dealership network began to expand. During the 1990s and into the 2000s, Subaru enthusiasts fell in love with the rugged nature of their cars, emphasized by rally wins on the world stage. The cars weren’t without their Achilles’ heels, ranging from minor annoyance (constant rattling) to major problem (failing head gaskets). But, the fan base continued to grow and grow.
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