Subaru will release limited-edition commemorative models of each of its vehicles next year as a way to mark its 50th anniversary in the U.S. on Feb. 15, the company said. Each edition will get a new, common color based on a high-level trim and special badging, with more details to come at the Chicago Auto Show in February.
The company famous for its all-wheel-drive vehicles, boxer engines and being popular among the granola set teased plans for its anniversary celebration year back in February, saying it would also make a special donation of "50 cars for 50 years" to benefit an as-yet unnamed national charity.
Subaru of America was founded on Feb. 15, 1968 in a small rental unit in Balboa Park, Calif. by American businessmen Malcolm Bricklin and Harvey Lamm as a way to sell Subaru dealer franchises. Soon after, the company relocated to Bala Cynwyd, Pa., and it has remained in the Delaware River valley ever since. It was acquired by Fuji Heavy Industries in 1990.
The parent company, now known as Subaru Corp., launched in 1953 and under the core Subaru-named auto business in 1958. Its first vehicle on the U.S. market arrived in 1968 as the 360, a clear competitor to the Volkswagen Beetle that was $300 cheaper and 1,000 pounds lighter. Its sales suffered after Consumer Reports rated it as "unacceptable."
Its FF-1 arrived in the U.S. in 1970 and represented the first Japanese car to feature front-wheel-drive and to have a horizontally opposed boxer engine. The company's first all-wheel-drive station wagon came to the U.S. in 1975.
Subaru plans to reveal its new three-row Ascent crossover next week at the L.A. Auto Show. Last month it unveiled special JDM model versions of the BRZ and WRX STI at the Tokyo Motor Show.
In October the company announced it would cease production of industrial products after 60 years in order to focus on making automobiles. Subaru of America is developing a new headquarters complex in Camden, N.J., which it expects to open early next year.