The Japanese automaker is well known around the world not for its big sales – though deliveries are very consistent today in America – but mostly for its core technological credo.
And that one has been pretty much consistent over the years – all-wheel drive gets married to horizontally-opposed “boxer” engines. And now the automaker is ready to celebrate no less than 50 years of continuous offering of the latter powerplant type. Back on May 14, 1966, Subaru was introducing the 1000 sedan, the rather inconspicuous compact sporting a 4-cylinder boxer engine. Back then, we do concede that AWD was not a thing for them yet, and unlike the 360 and Sambar models of earlier, the 1000’s powertrain was linked to the front wheels. By the way, the original water-cooled flat-4 engine in the 1000 was delivering just 54 horsepower. It may not sound much but you can imagine the handling pedigree was there – the compact was actually 20 inches shorter than the current Impreza and also tipped the scales at just 1,500 pounds.
Well, the EA-series flat-4 engine that was first offered in the 1000 would go on to evolve in subsequent models and transition to electronic fuel injection – making its way into the Subaru models until the mid-1990s. By the way, all wheel drive first appeared in 1972, when it was offered for special models of the Leone wagon, which of course was powered by a boxer engine. In 2016, Subaru’s worldwide powertrain options include boxer engines both gasoline and diesel.