Only in 1969: Cheap and crappy production values, mispronounced name of the car you’re selling, all redeemed by the girl, who says “wow” way too often. Don’t miss the shot of the 360 getting passed by a giant truck on the freeway. They might have chosen not to use that shot.
And if you survived that, don’t miss this longer film below extolling the remarkable virtues of Subaru’s 1969 lineup, including the legendary 360 Super Sport (!) with wild racing and crazy over steer hooning footage. Also the pickup, van, and the new FWD Star make an appearance.
Late sixties history is so…scary, especially when you lived through this yourself. (Note: the first minute is very dull, but hang in there or skip ahead; it gets better and better)
Not the last time an importer has mispronounced the name of a car brand in the NA market. The Korean pronunciation of Hyundai is not “hun-day”, but I guess the company decided Americans weren’t going to be able to get their tongues around “hyoon-die” (the oo being pronounced somewhere between “wood” and “boo”), so hunday it’s always been. Just as good was the pronunciation of the (British) announcers on broadcasts of the WRC, who pronounced it something like “hie-oon-die”.
Back on topic, that would have to be a scary little beast if one was to actually try driving it on a freeway.
There was a book published about the Subaru advertising account in the late 90s which mentions that a female copywriter changed the pronunciation long after the 360 fiasco. I wish I could remember its name.
“Where the Suckers Moon” (finally available as a kindle book..) was all about bringing the Gen-1 Legacy to the market, and how the marketing staff basically had a nervous breakdown bringing it to fruition.
It covers the birth of the brand as well. Really cool book for any ‘car’ person.
When Hyundai first came to U.S. market (peddling the dreadful Excel), they ran radio ads with the tagline: “Hyundai: It rhymes with Sunday.” A deliberate decision to make the brand more approachable, I guess.
Now that you mention it, I’ve noticed that people who work for Hyundai’s financial services arm tend to pronounce it “hyoon-die,” while most in the U.S. pronounce it the way we were taught in the circa 1986-87 commercials (“rhymes with ‘Sunday'”).
I’ve had some experience working with both video production teams and voice over talent. When those folks run accross a technical term or brand name they’re not familiar with, they don’t just wing it, they make a call and confirm pronounciation with the buyer.
Given that the VO talent pronounced Subaru with the same inflection as the on-screen talent, it would appear that on that day, Subaru’s corporate office wanted it pronounced Soo-Bar-oo.
When Hyundai launched in Australia in the late 80s it was pronounced “Hi-OON-die”. “Say hi to Hyundai” was the tagline to make the name friendlier.
Other Japanese car names are pronounced differently down under vs. the US — it’s “MAZda” (with a hard ‘a’ like ‘cat’) rather than the US “MAHZ-da”; and NISS-n (short ‘i’ like ‘clip’) rather than NEE-sahn.
“Hun Day” is better than “Hon Day” (I hear that one on radio ads often)
Maybe they showed the big rig passing the Su-BAH-ru to demonstrate that it wouldn’t get blown off of the freeway in the truck’s wake? 🙂
Fun bit of history I have not seen. Odds are the name was mispronounced, I don’t know much Subaru history. But, is it possible that it had not yet been established what the proper pronunciation would be?
The 360 Super Sport looks to have been a near pointless introduction to the American market. It’s a Beetle converted to a clown car. And, the Beetle was obviously in it’s heyday. I’m not sure when / if the Beetle had an automatic. Maybe that was the 360’s main selling point.
The seven minute intro with Japanese cultural allusions combined with the comment about “from the land of the rising sun” appear totally tone deaf to WW II vets. But, I suppose that was not their sought after demographic.
It’s funny how the tone of something marketed to the youth market can come across as marketed to rude jerks. Jamming that 360 into parking spots that would have blocked other cars was stupid. Some things never change, early Nissan Juke commercials seemed oriented to Nissan Jerk buyers.
Funky production values were common in the ’60s. I’m not sure this Plymouth ’67 commercial is much better. They just had less time to put up head scratcher moments to 2013 eyes.
The Star actually looks salable and better styled than early Datsun / Toyota products. I imagine they rusted like crazy, but if it was halfway reliable, it may have been what gave Subaru a foothold.
So, where would the seven minute piece have been run? Was it more of a dealer training film?
The Star was actually a very good car for the time, and was possibly the best and most advanced Japanese car available in the US until the introduction of the Honda Civic. It was the American debut of the flat four engine with dual radiators so a power robbing fan wasn’t necessary. They made a big deal of that feature in their print ads.
Yes, the Star is quite an attractive little car. The 360, by contrast, looks like something from Fisher Price. “U-Drive-It Kiddy Kar! With a horn that really beeps!”
…..Plymouth…. is out to…run you over..this year….
(At least that’s how I sang it)
That seven minute film has all the hallmarks of a dealer promotional film, or more exactly, a promotion film aimed towards possible dealers. Since they were introducing the Star (“It’s not just a Japanese Beetle”), was Malcom Bricklin still running the operation at this time, or had he been eased out at this point? The history of the Yugo, which starts out with Bricklin’s prior automotive history, isn’t absolutely clear on this. The book specified that the Star came over to stop the dealers from screaming, most of whom had signed on to sell the Star, not the 360.
I still remember Erie, PA’s first Subaru dealership. It was an old restaurant building in a residential area within the city limits (something like 8th or 9th Street just west of Myrtle) which had about a half dozen 360 sedans (no trucks) in what had previously been the dining room. I’d never heard of the car, and caught it by chance as I was biking by.
Subaru is pronounced differently in different market she did ok didnt sound strange at all but sport? Your kidding it corners worse than a VW. I like the shrunken rampside ute they must have seen a Corvair.
Equipped with a 3-speed manual transmission, it had a top speed of 60 miles per hour. It weighed under 1000 pounds, which exempted it from normal US safety rules.
You’d think that one of those safety rules would be “no cars under 1000 pounds.”
Fuel economy claims were as high as 66 mpg, but in Consumer Reports tests, acceleration was modest, with a 0-60 time of about 37 seconds, and they reported to expect 25–35 miles per gallon.
I think we’re all used to car ads’ mileage claims being, er, “optimistic” compared to real-world driving, but to promise 66 mpg from a vehicle that really gets only 25–35 isn’t optimism, it’s fraud.
Wiki also mentions there was a convertible version of the 360, but it appears to have been more of a beach buggy, like a Japanese Mini Moke. Or maybe a streetable golf-cart. Or maybe one of the cars from the kiddie rides at the county fair.
Correction: The “convertible” was apparently this instead. Although to me it seems more like an elaborate sunroof in the manner of 1960s Fiats.
I guess in the early days of Su-BAH-ru in America, “convertible” was kind of like “66 mpg.”
So…very similar to Fiat’s 500 convertible?
I love cars that introduce new concepts etc to the game I find the 360’s reverse doors and the Star’s spare-in-the-engine-compartment to be pretty trick packaging concepts (although not the first on market).
Of course, having recently purchased a Subaru has made me a huge fan.
But imagine driving the 360 through an intersection in 1970 and a Chrysler Newport blowing through the light. Hardly believable, but this car has less protection than the Beetle.
No kidding about the safety. In that Newport scenario, you might have actually been better off riding a bicycle!
I suspect, and I am in no way ‘white knighting’ for these cars, that the 25-35 mpg results were derived from being driven flat out in order to allow the driver to stay alive and not get crushed under Murilee’s Hell Impala. The 66 mpg estimates were probably from being driven under Japan’s more sedate speed limits.
Just what was the top speed of these things?
According to Road & Track, 56 mph.
There was a gas station in Georgetown/Wilton, CT that had a bunch of these sad little things on their lot at this time (early ’70s). At the time some mainstream car dealers were giving 360s away, sort of as a joke. You just couldn’t sell the things at that time. It was reminiscent of another gas station in San Juan, PR that had a bunch of Morris Minor estate wagons sitting on its lot in 1965, rapidly decomposing. The varnish used on the exterior wood was peeling off as the cars were offered for sale. Sad.
“Rear windows that open: standard.”
Well, I’m sold.
ETA: The score sounded familiar, and after a couple of minutes I realized why: it’s Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” in jazzed-up sixties advertising style.
The model looks like some sort of cloned hybridization of Marsha and Jan Brady.
I can see it now
Ad exec: Get Maureen McCormick’s agent on the phone, She’s hot! I want her to do the ad!
Minion: No can do sir, her contract with Sherwood Schwartz has her bound up tighter than a Shang Dynasty concubine’s little toe.
Ad exec: Well dammit, get Schwartz on the horn! Find out who didn’t pass the screen test!
Minion: We found her sir, but there’s just one problem. She has ‘Corsair’s Lingualica Syndrome’. She wants to do the ad, but we wanted to get your okay first.
Ad exec: What the hell’s that?
Minion: She unconsciously rolls any syllable with an ‘R’ in it. Can’t control it.
Ad exec: Umm, bring her in…
Marsha/Jan clone: Hi, how arrrre you, sirrrrr?
Ad exec: Hi, can you say the Japanese word ‘Subaru’?
Marsha/Jan clone: Subarrru.
Ad exec: Minion, when’s the production deadline?
Minion: Tomorrow, sir
Ad exec: Sigh, okay. Just find an announcer who can copy how she says it, we don’t want to look stupid here.
Funny! Reminds me of the crazy guy in ’80s Ruffles TV commercials: RRRRRuffles have RRRRRidges!!!!!
My first thought: Pow Pow Power Wheels!
Oh, and Su-BAR-oo?!
Did the rear swing axles almost kill the driver of the yellow “Super Sport” in the last film? I think I would have left that out of the film. Other than that, very entertaining.
The ad pronounces ‘Su-BAR-oo’ just the way we say it in New Zealand! Hyundai ran an advertisign campaign a few years back telling us they weren’t Hi-und-day’ any more, but ‘Hee-oond-die’. Surprisingly it worked. The Su-BAR-oo TV ads now say Suba-roo, so I guess Subaru’s taking a more subliminal approach than Hyundai did. Mind you, what do I know – I had MAZZ-da company cars, and I’m very happy with my Niss-anne…!
The only one of these I could see myself having is the Van, Ok maybe the FWD wagon….,No,…still the Van….
I had one of those Subaru 360 vans many years ago so really had to laugh when the announcer in the video said “Plenty of power!” Cripes, that thing really could not get out of its own way, max speed of about 45 mph (maybe) on level ground and you’d take all day to get there. A VW microbus would leave it in the dust from a stop light. You’d also find out there were hills you never realized were hills!
I’m gonna be kind and assume that “plenty of power” meant “a little more than a Vespa”, As I assume that the starter motor in my ’71 Electra had more torque, LOL. It is cute though! (Although the dame in the first video is more cute…Wow!)