KIT: Arii 1/32 1958 Subaru 360
KIT #: 41004
PRICE: 600 yen
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Curbside


On March 3, 1958, a endearing passenger car with a distinctive individuality came on the market: the Subaru 360, the first of Subaru cars. At that time, Japanese automobile manufacturers were working on developing small cars according to a plan calling for the production of a "people's car" as advocated by Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The Subaru 360 was developed in line with this concept. In those days, passenger cars were too expensive to be within the reach of most people. Building a small, affordable car that could perform well proved to be technologically tough, and many manufacturers were reluctant to tackle the problem. However, with its roots in aircraft manufacturing, Subaru took up the challenge backed by its pride and prodigious technological strength. It beat the other manufacturers in developing a four-passenger, four-wheel minicar, the Subaru 360, which became a milestone in the history of Japan's automobile industry. Because of its ladybug shape, the Subaru 360 was affectionately referred to as the Ladybird. For 11 years after its debut, the Subaru 360 enjoyed tremendous popularity. It finally went out of production in May 1970.

I should also mention that if you were anything close to 6 foot tall, you could forget about getting into one of these things. They were underpowered to the max, especially with more than a driver aboard. I have seen carnival operators set up an off road crash-em course with these cars minus the glass. Despite looking like hell, they rarely went fast enough in this situation to hurt anyone. Later, other car companies in Japan picked up on the trend and during my military career I owned or part owned a Toyota 600cc minicar and a Honda 360cc minicar. Both required the front seat to be all the way against the back for me to sit in it. Both had a four speed column shift and right hand drive.


Overall (length x width x height) : 2,990mm x 1,300mm x 1,380mm
Vehicle weight : 385kg

Engine: Model : EK31
Type : Air-cooled, 2-cycle, parallel 2-cylinder
Bore x stroke : 61.5mm x 60mm
Engine displacement : 356cc
Compression ratio : 6.5
Max. output (ps/rpm) : 16/4,500
Max. torque (kg-m/rpm) : 3/3,000

Suspension: Front : Trailing-arm-type independent suspension
Rear : Swing-axle-type independent suspension


This is #4 in the 1/32 'Owner's Club' series by Arii. I'm not sure if this is a series that LS also had, but I can imagine that it might well be. The kit itself is quite basic and a curbside. There is one white sprue, one clear, the body and four rubber tires.

The mold seam on the body at times borders on flash and the same can be said of the main sprue, though generally the parts are quite clean. The molding is in good shape and devoid of sink areas and visible ejector pin marks. The Spartan interior consists of little more that seats, shifter, instrument panel, steering wheel and door inserts. No foot pedals.

Exterior bits consist of lights, wipers, side view mirrors and license plates. The clear parts are quite distorted so it is a good thing there are no door windows so at least you can see the interior. A small decal sheet includes plates, instruments, and some trim. Instructions provide well done drawings and colors in Gunze paints. Of course, nearly everything is written in Japanese.


I mean, how can you not want to build a model of this car. Sure, 1/32 isn't everyone's cup of sake', but it is well molded, will produce an interesting replica and is a fine kit for young and old alike.


September 2006

Thanks to me and my less bulging change purse for this one.

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