Subaru’s first — and smallest — car just made history in Japan

subaru 360 national heritage news quotes pictures 1
The WRX, the Outback, and the Forester all trace their roots back to the 360, a tiny rear-engined car manufactured in Japan well before Subaru became a household name all around the world. Recognizing its importance, the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (JSME) has just designated Subaru’s first mass-produced car a mechanical engineering heritage item.

The term “heritage item” is more than just a vague, boilerplate title. It means that the 360 is now considered a part of Japan’s cultural heritage, and its careful preservation is encouraged so that it can be passed on to future generations. The 360 is the first Subaru — and only the second car — to earn this prestigious designation.

A little bit of background information is required here. The 360 was introduced in its home country in 1958, and it was briefly sold in the United States during the late 1960s. It carried a base price of $1,297 in 1968, its first year on the market, but sales were low at best and Subaru quickly realized the car was far too small and slow to suit the tastes of American consumers. A bigger, more spacious model named FF-1 Star powered by a flat-four engine was introduced in 1970, inaugurating a mechanical layout that continues to characterize members of the Subaru lineup to this day.

The story was different in Japan, where motorists had a seemingly insatiable appetite for small, affordable, and efficient cars. The 360 fit the bill perfectly. It stretched only 117 inches long, it tipped the scale at about 900 pounds, and it used a 356cc two-cylinder air-cooled engine rated at just 25 horsepower. With its sheer simplicity, it helped an entire generation make the transition from a bike or a motorcycle to a car; it’s easy to see why it’s considered part of Japan’s heritage.

Read more: Subaru’s 2017 Impreza is sharper, more dynamic to drive, and safer than ever

The other car on the list of mechanical heritage items is an obscure electric model named Tama that was built in the late 1940s in response to a widespread oil shortage in post-war Japan. Other items related to the automotive industry include Honda’s CVCC engine, the first automatic transmission developed in Japan, and Mazda’s 10A rotary engine.

Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

A couple’s recalled dishwasher caught on fire — and now they’re warning others

A Wisconsin couple has been using the dishwasher in their house for a year, unaware that it was recalled in 2009. Then the appliance caught fire. Now they are warning others to check appliances for risks when buying or renting a home.

OnePlus's 5G phone should arrive in May 2019, may cost up to $850

OnePlus will be among the first companies to put the new Snapdragon 855 processor into a phone, and will also release a separate and more expensive 5G phone in 2019 with the help of U.K. network EE.

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.

Aston Martin’s 1,000-hp Valkyrie will boast the Mona Lisa of the engine world

Aston Martin has released new details about its F1-inspired Valkyrie hypercar. Co-developed with Red Bull Racing, the Valkyrie will be one of the most aerodynamic production cars ever made.

The redesigned 2020 Passat shows Volkswagen still believes in sedans

The sedan segment in America is shrinking, but Volkswagen still believes in it. The German firm has released a teaser sketch to preview the redesigned 2020 Passat it will introduce during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.

Infiniti previews its leap into one of the hottest industry segments

Infiniti has released a teaser image to preview a concept it will unveil at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The yet-unnamed design study is an electric crossover shaped by Infiniti's newest design language.