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.
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.