It may not date as far back as cave paintings, but the use of graffiti as a means
of political expression arose long before teenagers discovered alternative
uses for spray paint. The renegade spirit of much of the 1960s is captured by some
of the graffiti that dotted everything from the walls of downtown neighborhoods
to the stately halls of campuses across America. Some creative samples of counterculture
- Boredom is counterrevolutionary.
- No replastering, the structure is rotten.
- Live in the moment.
- Abolish class society.
- Poetry is in the streets.
- Practice wishful thinking.
- Make love, not war.
- I dont have time to write on walls.
- Im a Groucho Marxist.
This year Subaru of America, Inc. celebrates
a landmark anniversary 35 years of providing you, our customers, with unique,
carefully engineered vehicles designed to fit your lifestyle. Were proud of
our history and heritage, and its a good time to take a look back at how Subaru
of America has evolved and grown in the past few decades. In this first of three
installments, we reflect on the companys early years, beginning in 1968.
America was introduced to Subaru during a time of wall-to-wall change. Vietnam was
on our minds and on our television screens, while protesters filled college campuses
and the streets. Peace, love, rock and roll was the mantra, flower
power was in full bloom and a generation of musicians traded dance beats for
a political voice.
The Watergate incident would become the symbol of a failed presidency. And 240,000
miles from earth, Apollo 11s Eagle
raised clouds of lunar dust as it settled onto the Sea of Tranquility.
This was the moment as America took wild swings from seismic jolts of conflict
and shock to unimaginable technical triumph that the Subaru 360 hit Americas
highways. Imported from Japan, it was cheap ($1,297!), and it was ugly. But it set
in motion a company with a vision that synched with what Americans were looking
The 360: Automotive Iconoclasm
While the 360 was not exactly the car for daredevils, it did offer practical, ultra-economical
transportation to the pioneering 600 drivers who put their faith in a product from
a new company with Japanese parentage.
Rock music is what gave the 1960s and early 1970s the memorable soundtrack that
still plays in the backs of our minds today. The sounds of political protest and
freedom meshed with counterculture; this was an era when unique bands made their
marks in the national consciousness. From San Franciscos Grateful Dead and
Jefferson Airplane, to New Yorks Velvet Underground, to the ever-broadening
boundaries of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones the period played host to
songs and albums that impacted a generation, and the generations that followed.
The 360s cheap and ugly image was perfectly suited to an era when
prices were low enough to make jaws drop open in amazement today. It was a time
when gas cost 34 cents a gallon, first-class stamps were just 6 cents, a dozen eggs
cost 53 cents and you could be the proud owner of a brand-new home for just $26,600.
Sounds pretty good, even with a median household income of about $8,000 a year.
And it was a time when ugly was, well, the clothes you put on every
The Subaru vehicles launched during this time were the
perfect counterpoints to the American models of the era. Where Detroit insisted
on filling the highways with behemoths, Subaru was among the leaders in the automotive
industry who decided to produce more practical, engineering-driven vehicles
a path the company still follows, and one that still meets the needs of Americas
In the years that followed
the inaugural Subaru 360 and into the mid-1970s came other Subaru models that helped
change the way America drove with their front-wheel drive vehicles and the extra
safety and versatility that only on-demand, four-wheel drive could bring. The Subaru
1000, FF-1, GL Coupe and 4WD Station Wagon were introduced to increasing success
in the marketplace and growing respect among the automotive press.
As 1976 rolled around, Subaru products were winning Car of the Year
honors and the company was racking up sales of nearly $84 million.
Take a look at our
earliest models and youll realize how far Subaru of America, Inc. has come
in the last 35 years. But while theres little immediate resemblance between
the diminutive Subaru 360 of the 1960s and the world-beating Impreza WRX that currently
occupies our showrooms, take a closer look and youll realize that thoughtful
engineering, top-notch construction and remarkable fuel efficiency have been a part
of every Subaru, and always will be. Heres a look at four of the first models
offered by Subaru of America.
- Introduced by Fuji Heavy Industries in 1958
- Exported to America starting in 1968
- Priced at $1,297
- Powered by a two-cylinder, two-stroke, 22-horsepower engine
- Fuel-efficient rear-mounted engine produced 66.3 miles per gallon
- The first front-wheel drive car from Japan
- The first Subaru with a four-cylinder boxer engine, an arrangement which
would evolve into the companys trademark engine design
- Available in two-door, four-door and wagon models
- Offered from 1969 to 1972
- Provided exceptional gas mileage
- Sportier styling, with rugged, all-steel unit-body construction
- MacPherson-strut front suspension
- Dual-diagonal braking system provided safe, sure stopping power
4WD Station Wagon
- The first mass-produced four-wheel drive passenger car in America
- A single lever shifted the wagon to four-wheel drive
- Featured a four-speed transmission and delivered superior gas mileage
- Climbs like a goat, works like a horse, eats like a bird, according
1977-1995: From BRAT to SVX Subaru Covers the
What came next for Subaru? See Subaru carve its niche in automotive history with
the BRAT in 1977, then enter the high-performance luxury market with its SVX in
1992, as America witnesses a disco revolution, followed by soaring gas prices, the
Reagan years and a home-computer revolution led by a young entrepreneur named Bill