Subaru 360, Ladybug
Denis Flierl's picture

Why is Subaru’s “Ladybug” Getting All the Attention?

Subaru’s first mass-produced minicar, the Subaru 360, is getting lots of attention. Why is the tiny car being honored?

The Subaru 360 is so ugly, it has been called cute by some in the automotive world. Why is the Subaru minicar getting so much attention in Japan? When you think of things being designated for their historical significance, we generally think of old buildings being preserved and restored. Subaru receives a similar designation for one of their first mass-produced cars. The Subaru 360, nicknamed the “Ladybug” has received a high honor in Japan.

Mechanical Engineering Heritage item

The 360 was Subaru’s first mass-produced minicar and it’s been preserved by Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) manufacturer of Subaru vehicles. It’s been designated by the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (JSME) as a Mechanical Engineering Heritage item for 2016.

The Subaru 360 was launched in 1958, was built within the 3-meter total length required of minicars at the time. The “Ladybug” seated four adult passengers and offered a comfortable ride. The Subaru minicar gained wide popularity in Japan for its compact design and practical layout.

On display at Subaru’s Gunma plant

The Subaru 360 can be seen in the Subaru Visitor Center at FHI’s Gunma Yajima Plant in Japan. Visitors taking factory tours at the plant can see the newly-named “heritage” vehicle along with other Subaru vehicles from the past.


A designation awards ceremony was held at Ichijo Hall in the University of Tokyo Yayoi Auditorium yesterday, (August 7) as part of an event celebrating Machine Day and Machine Week. Subaru’s 360 won’t ever make a comeback, but he minicar nicknamed the “Ladybug”, is now designated a Mechanical Engineering Heritage item. Subaru's minicar takes on a whole new historical significance for the Japanese automaker.

Source: Subaru

Image source: Subaru

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