Sandpanther (sandpanther) wrote,

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Interesting History

I've been following a Japanese series called "Project X". Every week it takes some Japanese engineering achievement, and goes through the ups and downs that the development team went through as they worked on coming up with various revolutionary inventions. This weeks episode was on a revolutionary car that was the precursor to the small Japanese compact, the Subaru 360, aka, the Ladybug.

(As an aside, this is the car that Ban drives in Getbackers. It looks kind of like a ladybug, which is where it gets the nickname. This is the "official" nickname for the car, not just something that was made up for Getbackers.)

Interestingly, Subaru didn't start out as a car comapany, it started as the name of a car. The company was Fuji Motors -- which has now developed into Fuji Heavy Industries. (I'll have to do the research, but I believe that it was able to develop into Fuji Heavy Industries in large part due to the sucess of the Subaru 360.) I assume over time the car making division was spun off under its own name: Subaru, a division of Fuji Heavy Industries. I don't know why the car was named "Subaru" (the Japanese name for the Pleides, or the Seven Sisters), but the "360" was a reference to its weight -- 360 kg. Light does not even begin to describe it.

This was a very odd show to watch in that I knew next to nothing about the car itself, but there were so many things in the background of the story that I was familiar with, or amused me in a strange way because of the associations I have with them now. For example, Subaru (the company) was based out of Isesaki, Gunma Prefecture. Because of this, at one point I paused the show and pointed out to my roomie that the mountain in the background was Mt. Akagi. Roomie politely did not call me a freak (possibly because she was curious what a real-life picture of Akagi looked like? Hard to say...)

One other incident almost got my roomie to call me a freak -- except that she would have to include herself in that! The program said that the lead designer on the project that eventually became the Subaru 360 would go home at night and sing his children's favorite song, "You Are My Sunshine". (Don't worry if you don't get why I am amused by this; if you don't get it, my explaining it really wouldn't make it any clearer. Just put it down to "I am a freak" and leave it at that. (Though there are others like me out there, mwahaha!)

The Subaru 360 was the first Japanese family car. Previous to its introduction cars in Japan were too expensive for the average family to own. This was the first that brought prices down enough that the average Joe could afford one. The design requirement was that it could travel at 60 kph over unpaved roads (there were lots of shots of testing the car on gravel), and climb any hill without problem. With a background like that, I can see how Subaru ended up putting so much effort into their rally program.

Anyway, that's a lot of babble about nothing. But the show randomly intrigued me, and so I babble.

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