Subaru 50th Anniversary – Driving into History

We drive historic Subaru models form the museum

Subaru celebrates its 50th anniversary in Australia this year. With over 1 million vehicles sold and consistently in the top ten brands year by year, it’s been a success story.

Subaru 50th Anniversary models drive day 1

I got to drive some historic Subaru models at a drive day at a private track a few weeks ago and I have to say it was a lot of fun.

Models included a 1995 SVX coupe with its sensuous styling and 3.3L engine. A 1998 Outback which changed the face of SUVs forever.

Of course, there was the iconic 1992 Brumby Ute as well as an early model Forester.

These were mixed with several WRX and WRX Sti models ranging from a 2000 model through the last 2021 WRX Sti model.

And just to add to the fun there were a few BRZ coupes as well.

Having a look back drive day is refreshing. It allows us to drive some classics as well as appreciating all the technological advancements. Mind you some of the earlier models were pure fun to drive.

Its also pleasing to see just how popular and loved the Brumby Ute is.

Thank you, Subaru.

This is a Motoring Minute

I’m Rob Fraser

Subaru 50th anniversary drive day collage

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Subaru Models driven

Subaru 50th anniversary 1995 Subaru SVX 1Subaru 1995 SVX

Styled by influential Italian automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Subaru SVX was first unveiled as a concept car at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show. The angular, two-door sports car went on to make its debut as a production model in the United States in July 1991.

Sales of Subaru SVX (Subaru Vehicle X) started in Japan in September 1991 and it was released in Australia in October 1993. In total, just 279 Subaru SVXs were sold in Australia and this is one of only two models imported in bright yellow.

Worldwide only 25,000 Subaru SVXs were built, an incredibly low number given the investment required to design, test and produce this unique vehicle.

Subaru 50th anniversary 1995 Subaru SVX 1

Due to limited production numbers and its Giugiaro styling, it has been named a “future collectable” by the highly respected Collectable Automobile magazine.

Ultimately, the Subaru SVX represented a bold and important brand statement for Subaru in the 1990s. And while this Subaru SVX is not for sale, $250,000 may tempt us!

Subaru 50th anniversary 1992 Subaru Brumby_1

Subaru 1992 Brumby – Go anywhere, on demand All-Wheel Drive

Launched in Australia in the late 1970s, the Subaru Brumby became a local favourite particularly with farmers who appreciated its go anywhere 4WD ability. The distinctive design was surprisingly rugged, but lightweight, with a ground clearance that made them popular in the country as an off-road workhorse.

Arriving on our shores long before cross-over vehicles became mainstream, the Subaru Brumby offered owners the best of both worlds – with on-demand 4WD activated by a lever, while front wheel drive only mode could be utilised on road trips. Plus it featured sedan-like driving comfort and a 1970s must-have – the all-important stereo tape deck.

Subaru Brumby Ute

Known as the ‘Brumby’ only in Australia, the distinctive two seat ute followed the introduction of the Subaru Leone 4WD wagon which was admired for its reliability. Stories of vehicles driving up to 250,000kms without major overhaul were promoted by Subaru’s Australian PR team in the 1980s.

The Brumby was powered by the Subaru 1600cc horizontally-opposed four-cylinder ‘Boxer’ engine that produced 50kW @ 5200rpm and a low-down torque of 110Nm @ 2400 rpm.

Brumbys were sold in Australia from the late 1970s until February 1994.

Subaru 50th anniversary 1998 Subaru Outback GX_1Subaru 1998 Outback GX – The first generation of Subaru’s Flagship SUV

The Subaru design team created the Outback to help customers explore “where earth meets sky” with the signature two tone paint reflecting their intention.

This 1998 model is the last before the second generation was released in 1999. Outback began life in both Australia and the USA with Subaru Australia experimenting with raised Liberty wagons before the design project became a collaboration between Japan, Australia and the USA. The Outback preceded the Subaru Forester and remains the flagship Subaru SUV, and benchmark for other brands.

With seating for 5 full sized adults the Outback gained appeal for adventurous families and couples packing the cavernous boot space for adventure. More than a station wagon yet more car like than a large 4WD, Outback offered the best of both worlds combining exceptional ride and handling with high ground clearance enabling it to run where normal cars fear to tread.

Subaru 50th anniversary 1998 Subaru Outback GX_1

Subaru’s engineers pioneered Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive in passenger cars, made possible by Subaru’s legendary Boxer engine. Together they allow for a low centre of gravity producing excellent comfort and cornering, with off-road ability not found in conventional family cars.

The Subaru Outback continues to be the benchmark for family SUV’s to this day. This display car represents a significant part of Subaru’s journey

Subaru 50th anniversary 2000 Subaru Impreza WRX STI_2Subaru 2000 WRX STI – Last of the first generation

The 2000 Impreza WRX STI sedan was a Japanese domestic specification vehicle that was homologated to Australian Design Rules (ADRs) by Subaru (Aust) Pty Ltd as a special project.

These models were the first STI vehicles imported into Australia as part of the Subaru model range, as opposed to private and single imports.

This model was imported in batches of 250 to 399 up until 2002, when the first proper FHI (Fuji Heavy Industries) production export vehicle was produced and fully homologated as an Australian KA specification vehicle.

Subaru 50th anniversary 2000 Subaru Impreza WRX STI_32

The 2000 Grey WRX was the last of the first Generation models, before the launch of the “bug eyes” Impreza and WRX range in 2001.

As a result, this model was widely recognised as the “last of the first” and was seen as the best of the first Generation WRX models. It was also the generation that firmly established Subaru WRX as a true cult car, laying the foundation for the continued success of following generations.

Fun Fact – The first batch imported to Australia was supposed to be 400 strong, however one vehicle literally fell off the wharf during shipping and was written off – so the first batch became just 399.

Subaru 50th anniversary 2000 Subaru Impreza WRX_3

Subaru 2000 Impreza WRX – Last of the first generation as well

By the 1990s the popular Subaru Liberty RS Turbo was showing its age, however behind the scenes Subaru was busy building a replacement vehicle. That vehicle was the Subaru Impreza which debuted in the early 1990s and went on to become an icon, marking a monumental turning point for the brand.

The first generation Subaru Impreza WRX was hailed as the car that set the standard for delivering ‘bang for your bucks’ performance. The all-new chassis gave engineers the opportunity to craft a quicker car and it’s rumoured that Australian engineers had a hand in designing the Impreza’s rear-end suspension system.

Subaru claimed they were directly feeding its road cars with proven rally tech, leading to the first road-going Subaru Impreza WRX being equipped with the motorsport-derived EJ20 engine and all-wheel drive system.

Subaru 50th anniversary2000 Subaru Impreza WRX_4

It was this generation Subaru Impreza that made its debut at the World Rally Championship (WRC) in Finland in August 1993. The Subaru Impreza WRX was the platform for Subaru’s three World Rally Manufacturer Championship wins, in 1995, 1996 and 1997. This made it the car that brought genuine motorsports performance within the reach of Australian performance car enthusiasts.

Subaru Corporation wanted to showcase the benefits of Subaru Symmetrical AWD, the Boxer engine and low centre of gravity in both motorsport – and in every day performance driving.

It’s no wonder the first Gen WRX was, and remains, the benchmark for affordable performance cars

Subaru 50th anniversary 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX WRP10_4

Subaru 2005 Impreza WRX WRP10 – 10 years of WRX in Australia

Designed to sit in the tight performance gap between the WRX and STi, just 200 of this Australian-developed model were produced – all finished in Crystal Grey Metallic.

STi’s product specialist, Greg Foletta (former ARC co-driver champ who doubled with Cody Crocker) was given the task of balancing the WRP10’s power.

While the horsepower is tipped slightly towards the regular WRX, it’s a fraction throatier and was ultimately pitched as a halfway point between a standard WRX and full-fat STi.

Subaru 50th anniversary 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX WRP10_24

Engine improvements included new computer software and STi exhaust, with the WRP10’s response making it a more comfortable drive around town than the STi. Another performance and stylistic choice was the inclusion of ‘Rays Engineering’ lightweight and forged
aluminum rims, which reduced the unsprung mass.

Fun Fact –  This limited edition WRP10’s name came from – WR for World Rally, P for Pirelli and 10 for the WRX 10th Australian anniversary.

Subaru 50th anniversary 2007 Subaru Forester 2.5X_3

Subaru 2007 Forester 2.5X AWD

The 2007 Subaru Forester 2.5X combined Subaru’s symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system with high levels of comfort, utility and style including a powerful 2.5-litre Boxer engine.

Forester started the trend in compact all-terrain wagons and was a leader in its class for engineering, active and passive safety. The thoughtful design and luxury features enabled the driver to enjoy everything from daily driving chores, to adventure holidays with ease.

It featured an elegant yet robust exterior, and a large amount of interior space, making it the perfect family car for negotiating city streets or exploring open country.

Subaru 50th anniversary 2007 Subaru Forester 2.5X_23

Within the Forester X each dashboard control was thoughtfully positioned to best connect the driver to the vehicle, igniting the driver’s senses behind the wheel and on the road.

This actual display car – fitted with a sunroof, leather interior and rear spoiler – recently featured in the 2021 Forester SUV ‘Generations of Love’ TVC, which aired across Australian TV and the internet in 2021 and 2022.

This nostalgic campaign showcased the Forester as a family favourite renowned for its reliability and capability, qualities synonymous with the Subaru brand.

These attributes, along with Subaru’s reputation for safety, have made it a right of passage for families to lovingly pass their Forester down to their children as a first car when they get their provisional drivers licence.

Subaru 50th anniversary 2021 Subaru WRX STI_1

Subaru 2021 WRX STI – The best yet

The 2021 Subaru WRX STI Premium represents everything that is iconic about the WRX and epitomises the ultimate in turbocharged Boxer engine performance.

The 2021 WRX STI delivers a pulsating 221kW of power at 6000rpm and 407Nm of torque at 4000rpm. With road-gripping low centre of gravity, phenomenal power, speed and sublime handling, this model was designed with sophisticated tech at your fingertips while wrapped
in next level comfort.

Subaru 50th anniversary 2021 Subaru WRX STI_3

With all the pure performance Subaru WRX STI is famous for, this car was created for drivers who live for the road. Every inch of the adrenaline pumping Subaru WRX STI is engineered to make every single moment an unforgettable experience.

Featuring a STI sports mesh grille, 19″ alloy wheels, bright yellow 6 pot front and 2 pot rear Brembo brake calipers with the STI logo, an optional rear spoiler and the STI signature colour scheme – black with red stitching in the body – hugging sports bucket seats, the silhouette
is unmistakable.

The 2021 Subaru WRX STI was the last Subaru model to feature the rally-bred famous ‘EJ’ Boxer engine

Subaru 50th anniversary drive day collage 2

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About Rob Fraser 2486 Articles
Rob Fraser – General dogsbody & Director Rob is the founder of the business. He constantly mutters something about way too many red wines one evening being to blame. Often known for taking the 4WD in the driveway over the sports car, he has travelled pretty much everywhere in Australia and when he is bored goes for a drive. He first learned to drive on the farm in a left hand drive WW11 Jeep when he was 11, and was hooked on 4WDriving way back then. In addition to 4WD he is an avid motoring enthusiast and has maintained a strong interest in the industry ever since his teens. He has owned way too many cars in his time as well. Having previously lived at the top of corporate life he retired in 2000 and hasn’t put a suit and tie on since. Cars are his passion so why not have a business doing what you love he figures. He has towed either a caravan or camper trailer to most parts of Australia, has run guided tours for camper trailers’ and instructed drivers in off road towing.