Engineers restore Subaru 360 model (往年の名車「360」復元  福島スバル)

Fukushima Subaru Inc. President Ryoichi Uchida, second from right, stands alongside a Subaru 360 with Junji Watanabe, right, who led the car restoration project and other core members of the endeavor.(「スバル360」を復元させた内田社長(右から2人目)、渡辺副部長(右)らプロジェクトの中心メンバー)

 In a bid to burnish their chops, a team of young engineers at Fukushima Subaru Inc. have restored a Subaru 360 mini-vehicle, an iconic car that was manufactured from 1958 to 1970.
   The vehicle will appear at test-drives and other events over the coming days at dealerships across Fukushima Prefecture. The car dealer in Koriyama, based in the prefecture, hopes to promote its superb technological capabilities through exhibition of the vehicle.
 Devoted fans of the model are thrilled to see the revival of a vehicle widely regarded as the root of the present-day Subaru style.


 Originally developed by Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the predecessor of Subaru Corp., the Subaru 360 was made to promote low-cost passenger cars at a time when owning a car was still a dream for many households in Japan. About 390,000 units were produced as a mini-vehicle model unique to the domestic market. Its design earned it the nicknames "ladybug" and "demekin" (telescope goldfish).
 The restored vehicle was donated by a client about 20 years ago and had been on display in a store until recently.
Young engineers have been receiving fewer training sessions to hone their skills due to the ongoing pandemic. Fukushima Subaru therefore set up a team for a restoration project in July with the hope of giving them opportunities to learn the history of the manufacturing technology accumulated and inherited over the years and to then make use of it in their work.
 About 20 people, mostly in their 20s and 30s, applied to participate in the project. Though they struggled to procure parts that are no longer in use, they worked on the engine and suspension, and painted the body to complete the restoration of the car in about four months. The restored vehicle passed a safety inspection and is ready to run.


 The car was unveiled in Koriyama on Dec. 14 in the presence of Fukushima Subaru President Ryoichi Uchida.
 "The project served as an opportunity for young engineers to once again realize the fun of cars by getting involved in the manufacturing of something made 50 years ago," said Junji Watanabe, deputy chief of the firm's service parts department and the leader of the team. "Cars are part of our lives. I hope that the restored car will bring back nostalgic memories of that era."

( Translated by The Japan News )



 スバル360 富士重工業(現スバル)が開発。自家用車が夢の時代に低価格の乗用車の普及を目指し、日本独自規格の軽自動車として約39万台が生産された。ユニークなデザインで「テントウムシ」「デメキン」とも呼ばれた。

 【 2020年12月15日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】