Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru, celebrated its 60th anniversary on June 15. And while the company is largely known in the automotive world for its innovative all-wheel-drive cars, its history stretches far back before the days of symmetrical all-wheel drive, World Rally Blue and gold wheels.

FHI was founded, much like Germany's BMW, as an aircraft company. It went through a series of names before settling on its current title in 1953. And while its aerial successes were never quite as famous as Mitsubishi and its Zero, FHI did fly Japan's first jet-powered trainer. The same year, 1958 to be exact, it unveiled the iconic Subaru 360 minicar. While the 360 never quite caught on in the US (at least not with the fervor of the similarly laid-out Volkswagen Beetle), the small, affordable and simple Subie had a wide-ranging appeal across the island of Japan.

The rear-drive, rear-engined 360 was eventually joined by the 1000, Subaru's first front-engine, front-wheel-drive car. More importantly, the 1000 ushered in Subaru's use of a horizontally opposed engine. The Subaru Leone, which arrived in 1971, expanded on the 1000, by offering a combination we're all familiar with nowadays - all-wheel drive with a flat-four engine.

So, if you want to know which cars to thank for that trick center differential in your Impreza WRX STI or the road-holding ability of your Legacy wagon, you can look back on these three cars. Have a gander at some of Subaru's most noteworthy machines in the high-res gallery above, and read more from Subaru in the press release below.
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Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Jul 16,2013

Tokyo, July 15, 2013 - Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), the maker of Subaru automobiles, is pleased to announce that today marks the 60th anniversary of the company.

The origins of FHI go back to the 1917 founding of the "Aircraft Research Laboratory" which was later incorporated as "Nakajima Aircraft Co. Ltd". After World War II, Nakajima Aircraft was re-organized as "Fuji Sangyo Co. Ltd". Fuji Sangyo was divided into 12 separate companies in 1950 and shortly thereafter, on July 15 of 1953, five of those companies merged to form "Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.".

In 1958, FHI flew the first Japan-made "T-1" jet trainer test plane and released the "Subaru 360" mini car. Throughout its history, FHI has continued to deliver innovative technologies and unique, epoch-making products such as the "Subaru 1000", Japan's first mass-produced front-engine, front-wheel drive car; the Subaru "Leone", Japan's first mass-produced all-wheel drive passenger car; the Subaru "Legacy" which led the station wagon boom in Japan; and the "EyeSight" driving assist system.
The company's technological competence has been passed down in its non-automotive businesses as well. The aerospace business is recognized for its expertise in unmanned aircraft systems and participation in international joint development of commercial airplanes, while the industrial product business has been offering highly-reliable general-purpose engines and other engine-driven products to support industries and everyday lives of people worldwide.

Through its history of innovation, FHI has been earning trust and support from customers for its commitment to engineering excellence as the source of functionality, safety and reliability of its products.

Pursuant to its guiding principle "Confidence in Motion", FHI will continue to serve as a responsible global corporate citizen and commit itself to fulfilling expectations and further enhancing the confidence of customers around the world.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Happy B-Day...Now...Where's my next generation STi!
      • 1 Year Ago
        • 1 Year Ago
        Subaru now offers products that are mainstream enough to sell while maintaining the qualities that make them great. That's why they are selling like crazy. The new Forester is the best CUV on the market. Efficient, utilitarian, and fun is a great combination of benefits.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Subaru sales are well on track this year to be more than double what they were 10 years ago and Honda sales still remain strong (behind only Toyota for Japanese brands) in the U.S.
          • 1 Year Ago
          10 years ago, try 5 years! In 2008 Subaru sold just under 200,000 cars. This year they are on track for well over 400,000! That is crazy good no matter who you are. And I agree, sales don't always mean a good car, but Consumer reports has named subaru their top manufacturer for the past two years and they've been in the top 5 for a long time now. Great cars, great awd, great value. Can you tell I love me some subaru?
          • 1 Year Ago
          @dea5787 But auto execs only care about sales and profitability. If it sells well and makes them a profit, the car is good. If it doesn't, the car is bad. They don't care about driving dynamics or unique suspension set ups. Those are just selling points to get car nerds like us to buy their model over the competition
      • 1 Year Ago
      Side profile looks exactly like a 2014 Mazda 3.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I went to high school with a guy that drove a 360. What a trip that thing was. So small and cool, it inspired the song, "Making Love In A Subaru", a favorite on the Dr. Demento Show.
      Luis A. Martinez
      • 1 Year Ago
      My first car was like the red one on the last picture (my friends make fun of it,because I wasn't a Datsun but kind of look like) and I have to tell everybody how Nissan part of Datsun make electrical parts for them,wasn't till 2003 I think that even relays on forester said Nissan Motor Co. Nice and polite cooperation till GM tried to step on it and sell Saab build by Subaru
      • 1 Year Ago
      Couldn\'t help but notice the spartan interior on that 360. While I\'m sure that was common and acceptable during its day, it\'s a night and day difference compared to the cars of today which are absolutely filled with safety features. My frugal, retired father still drives his 1993 Nissan pickup (with a 5 speed manual) that he purchased brand new 20 years ago. I drove it the other day and couldn\'t help but feel naked and unsafe in comparison to my F30. There is something to be said about his ultra simple pickup though, it\'s definitely a joy to drive in its own way.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Basic cars do have their charms. Light weight, easy maintenance and in older cars great outward visibility. The amount of room in such a small is amazing. I remember the first time i sat in the back of a Bug, couldn’t believe the amount of room in it.
          • 1 Year Ago
          A while ago I was looking at importing a kei car and was amazed at the space inside these little cars. Then I looked at the thickness (thinness?) of the doors; that's where the space savings are made. Efficient packaging but compromised safety to be sure!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Famous? More like \"infamous\" for Mitsubishi and its Zero. Fuji Heavy did make the \"Kate\" torpedo bomber (when they were Nakajima) which flew right along side the Zero in Pearl Harbor, but no one seems to remember that. So Mitsubishi gets all the \"glory.\" Something they still seem to be paying for today,
      • 1 Year Ago
      I remember the 360 a few were sold in the US and then what was the \'Star\'/FF-1. And then the Leone other than the Toyota Corona the only other Japanese make that made a 2 door hardtop.
      • 1 Year Ago
      dearest rat
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've always wanted a 360 micro van...
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