Are You Old Enough To Remember The First Japanese Cars Arriving In The U.S?

by | Jul 14, 2015 | Automotive

For many, their first encounter with Japanese cars was around 1958 when the first Datsuns hit the USA. At that time, Japanese goods in general had a reputation for being cheap and not of good quality. Those that knew that Japan drives on the “wrong” side of the road were impressed that they only sent left hand drive vehicles to the States. Others wondered how a car so well fitted out could possibly sell at such a relatively low price; others considered trying one because of its economical running costs.

Perhaps, there was also some novelty value. Back then, we were not all that accustomed to seeing a minute, 2 door city car powered by a mere 360 cc engine – nevertheless, the Datsun 360 sold around 10,000 units between 1958 and 1971 (it was even advertised as “cheap and ugly”).

Soon, other Japanese brands became commonplace on our streets – the latter entered the US market in 1968 with their own American marketing and distribution company and, in 1989 they opened a joint venture factory with Isuzu at Lafayette in Indiana. Isuzu sold their stake in this SIA plant to Fuji Heavy Industries in 2001. The factory is still operational and has received major awards for being environmentally friendly.

From Being A Cheap Alternative To Becoming A Desirable Vehicle

To extend market penetration into the lucrative midsize car range Subaru introduced their Legacy models in 1989 as direct competition to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Again, the emphasis was on reliable, economic running and the inclusion of many accessories as standard rather than the optional extras approach offered by some automakers. Advertising slogans were changed to reflect a more up market image; e.g. “Inexpensive, and built to stay that way” or “Confidence in Motion”.

Additionally, they capitalized on successes in motorsports – notably the World Rally Championship which they won in 1993. Awards from the motoring press further increased the car’s reputation; for example, the June 1990 AutoGuide voted it “the least expensive Sedan or Wagon offering both 4-wheel drive and ABS”.

Features such as having four wheel drive as standard and a “boxer” engine (flat or horizontally opposed engine) add to the uniqueness of the Legacy range of models which have now gone beyond the midsize to include higher performance variants as compact executive cars and even an SUV version. Maybe their new price levels put them a little out of some people’s reach; but, should you live in Illinois and be considering buying a Used Subaru Legacy In Joliet; dealers like Hawk Subaru can show you a wide range at very good prices.

Recent Posts



Related Posts