Subaru celebrates 50 years of Boxer engines


Third-generation Subaru four-cylinder boxer engine

Third-generation Subaru four-cylinder boxer engine

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Subaru has stayed remarkably consistent to its main engineering tenets: all-wheel drive and horizontally-opposed "boxer" engines. The automaker is now gearing up to celebrate 50 consecutive years of offering the latter.

On May 14, 1966, Subaru debuted its 1000 sedan, and under the otherwise pedestrian-looking compact's hood was a 4-cylinder boxer engine. Unlike the 360 and Sambar that preceded it, the 1000 sent its power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive was to come to the brand at a later date.

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The original 1000's water-cooled flat-4 cranked out 54 horsepower. That may not sound like a lot, but it's worth noting that the 1000 weighed a mere 1,500 pounds and was 20 inches shorter from head-to-toe than the automaker's current compact, the Impreza.

Subaru 1000

Subaru 1000

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The EA-series flat-4 engine that arrived in the 1000 would go on to power the bulk of Subaru's lineup into the mid-1990s with both carburetors and electronic fuel injection.

All-wheel drive wasn't to make an appearance until 1972, when it was offered as a traction-aiding extra on certain versions of the Leone wagon. That Leone was, not surprisingly, powered by a boxer engine.

Today, Subaru's global lineup includes both gas and diesel-powered boxer engines. Its only non-boxer offering is on the Japanese-market Justy, a small hatchback actually built and designed under contract by Daihatsu.

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