Top 5 Weirdest Subarus of All Time

Top 5 Weirdest Subarus of All Time

Subaru is well known as an automaker that marches to the beat of its own drum.

Even in the midst of a modern “manstreamification,” most of the brand’s vehicles still have standard full-time all-wheel drive and all of them come with a boxer-style engine.

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But back in the day, before corporate interests really took over, Subaru was allowed to be weird. Bizarre sports coupes, oddly shaped SUVs and after-thought seat installations weren’t too obscure for the car producing arm of Fuji Heavy Industries. Here are five of the strangest Subarus in history:


5. Subaru 360

Available from the late 1950s until the early 1970s, the Subaru 360 was a micro city car. This alone isn’t overly strange, but many of the details on the 360 were. The passenger doors were rear hinged and there was a floor-mounted fuel lever that eliminated the need for a fuel pump since the gasoline was gravity fed.

Sitting in the rear of the car was a two-stroke, two-cylinder engine that displaced just 356 cc. That is what gave the 360 its name, referring to the 360 cc tax credit class of cars. Later, the term 360 would take on a secondary meaning as the tail-happy handling characteristics of the car had a lot of owners spinning out in their 360s.


4. Subaru Bighorn

The Isuzu Trooper may be the most rebadged automobile in history. At one point or another, versions of the Trooper were sold by Acura, Chevrolet, Holden, Honda, Opel, SsangYong, Vauxhall and, yes, Subaru.

Called the Bighorn, Subaru sold the rebadged Trooper from 1988 until 1993 in Japan only. Even though the Trooper would undergo a redesign in 1991, the Subaru Bighorn would soldier on with the first-generation architecture until it was discontinued. The only power plant available was a 2.8-liter turbo diesel.


3. Subaru Alcyone SVX

The Subaru Alcyone SVX was an unusual car in many ways. The overall styling featured some unique elements, highlighted by the window within a window design. This was said to improve wind buffeting at highway speeds, but made drive-thrus a nightmare.

Under the hood sat a horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine measuring 3.3-liters in displacement. It sent 230 hp to all four wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. A front-wheel drive version did briefly appear in North America and Japanese customers could opt of optional four-wheel steering.


2. Subaru Brat

Small pickup trucks were hot in the late 1970s and Subaru wanted in on the action. More of a car with an open bed rather than a purpose built pickup truck, the Brat sat two people up front in the cabin. But this meant the Brat would have been susceptible to the so-called American chicken tax that puts a 25% tariff on imported light trucks.

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To circumvent this, Subaru bolted two rearward facing plastic chairs in the bed of the truck. A safety nightmare, passengers heads actually bobbed around higher than the Brat’s roofline, so keeping the truck sunny-side up was more important than ever.


1. Subaru XT

Before there was the SVX, there was the angular Subaru XT. With a fairly conventional for its time wedge shape, the back window was a wraparound design set at a fairly steep rake. Power came from a choice of horizontally opposed engines, a 1.8-liter in naturally aspirated or turbocharged flavors as well as a 2.7-liter six-cylinder.

The XT came equipped with some interesting and advanced equipment for its time. A single wiper blade, retractable door handles, adjustable suspension, headlight washers, push-button all-wheel drive, digital gauge cluster and hill holder could all be equipped to the XT.

But the most unusual feature had to be the XT’s steering wheel. To apparently resemble a jet fighter cockpit, the wheel only had one vertical and one horizontal support bar. This gave it an unusual asymmetrical appearance and took some getting used to when operating.

Discuss this story on our Subaru Forum

  • smartacus

    They can use a new XT right about now

  • craigcole

    Wouldn’t ALL Subarus be the “Five Weirdest”, LOL?

  • Sami Haj-Assaad

    That steering wheel is awesome. I want one.

  • Wu Ming

    It would be a perfect place to fit a new flat-6 with lift control and port and direct injection.

  • 4low2go

    Ever drive a SVX? Owned one for 13 years. Best I’ve owned.


    I owned a 1992 Subaru SVX LS-L, which I drove for about 90,000 miles. My favorite car, even though the transmissions and wheel bearings were flaky. The window within a window was brilliant; wind noise and turbulence were virtually nonexistent. The seats were superb. I regret selling it.

  • Dave Lewis

    I remember taking a 360 for a test drive back in 1971, I was going to USN Machinists Mate school at Great Lakes IL and a dealer outside of the base had a bunch for sale. As I remember the dealer didn’t want me to drive the car as I was only 18. So a buddy who was 21 took the car out and when we got around the corner I got behind the wheel. I hate to say that it was a pretty vile car. A month later I walked by the showroom and saw that the cars stored inside were rusting! Subaru has come a long way.

  • Sharon Burress

    oh man , the BRAT!…my first friend in high school to get his license got his older brothers brat as a gift… remember doing 70 on the highway strapped into those rear facing seats SCARY! that car saw some crazy shit..ahh i miss high school!