subaru history

The history of Subaru

Explore over 70 years of engineering passion

1945 - From runway to road

At the end of the war, the Nakajima Aircraft Company turned from producing Japanese planes to, as Fuji Heavy Industries, prototype cars. The pilot vehicle was called the P-1.

Soon, the company re-named itself. It chose ‘Subaru’ - a star cluster in the Taurus constellation meaning ‘to govern’ or ‘gather together’. Visible to the naked eye Pleiades, as it’s more commonly known in the West, features six stars. The constellation also now shines from the badge on every Subaru.

1954 - Launch of Subaru 1500
The debut Subaru 1500 was launched in 1954. Several other models followed including the Subaru 360 - Japan’s first mini car.
1965 - Introduction of Subaru Boxer engine

Using engineering owing much to Fuji Heavy Industries' aviation background, 1965 saw the introduction of the legendary Subaru Boxer Engine – a feature that continues to define the Subaru marque.

1972 - Symmetrical All Wheel Drive

Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive changed all-terrain expectations for ever – setting the course for the acclaimed Subaru All-Wheel Drive range available today.

1989 - Launch of Subaru Legacy

In February, Subaru’s design team unveiled the 2.0 Subaru Legacy. It was the first model to combine a Horizontally-Opposed Engine and a Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system – now Subaru’s hallmark. The line-up comprised a 4-door Saloon and a Sports Tourer, the latter starting a Sports Tourer boom in Japan. By 1998, the third-generation Subaru Legacy had been introduced.

1992 - Launch of Subaru Impreza

In November 1992, a curvaceous, compact new Subaru sports model caught the world’s attention. In 4-door Saloon and Sports Tourer versions, the Subaru Impreza was born. Before long, the Subaru Impreza WRX went on to win the World Rally Championship three years in a row. Looking deceptively like a family car, the Subaru Impreza WRX outpaced many sportier-looking rivals on the track, whilst the outstanding performance of its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system ensured top rankings. Meanwhile, on the street, its handling ease and stability delighted Subaru customers.

1993 - Launch of Subaru Outback

Combining the sporty, reliable on-road handling and interior space of the Subaru Legacy Tourer with estate practicality, the new Outback boasted 200 mm ground clearance to venture off-road. The tough-looking exterior included front façade and bumper, large fog lamps with stone guards, large diameter all-season tyres, 2-tone body colour, and oversized side protectors.

1997 - Launch of Subaru Forester

Bringing together the best of sport utility vehicle (SUV) and passenger car traits, the Subaru Forester created a new template. A reduced wheelbase, 200mm ground clearance and high seating position equipped the Forester for poor roads whilst still offering an excellent ride quality.

2011 - Launch of Subaru XV

The 64th Frankfurt Motor Show saw the world premiere of the Subaru XV. Promising ‘Enjoyment and Peace-of-Mind’, the XV packaged performance, fuel economy and handling within a stylish, highly distinctive exterior design.

2012 - Launch of Subaru BRZ

A fun sports car that any driver could enjoy, the Subaru BRZ design realised an astonishingly low centre of gravity. As predicted, mounting the light, compact Subaru Boxer engine centrally, well down in the chassis, gave the BRZ acclaimed handling, balance and poise.

Today - Confidence in motion

Innovative. Independent. Individual. Defying convention and challenging the norm, Subaru continues to lead where others can only follow.