Cohort Sighting: 1977-1980 Subaru 600 (Rex 550) – It Doesn’t Look Like It Has A Rear Engine

Subaru 600 side

This is another first for CC: a curbside Subaru 600, also known as the Rex 550 in Japan. Cohort Rivera Notario spotted it in Santiago, Chile, and reading up on it surprised me, since based on its looks, I assumed the engine had already gravitated to the front. And I knew that later Rexes were FWD. But not this one.

Subaru 600 r

The view from the rear makes that pretty obvious. These cars are actually still a direct development from Subaru’s first kei car, the famous 360 that was imported to the US (full story here). The early version of the Rex still had the two-stroke engine too, but in 1977, a totally new four-stroke twin with 550cc replaced that smoky little stink-bomb. It churned out 31 hp. This little twin went on to be used in the next generation Rex, now sitting in the front. That generation was sold in Europe; possibly this one too. And obviously in Chile, among other export markets.

Subaru 600 side s

It sure looks like a scaled-down version of the larger Leone that was sold in the US, including as a 4WD version which started the whole Subaru AWD phenomena here.

Related CC reading:   Subaru 360   Subaru Leone 4WD Wagon