That the Subaru FF-1 was an outstanding product of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., helped ensure the marques success both here in Australia, and the world. At its introduction in 1969
, prices ranged from $1895 tax paid, cheap but certainly not nasty.
The Subaru FF-1 was considerred to have many advanced engineering features for the time, the stand out obviously being the flat-four horizontally opposed engine in the front, driving the front wheels. By todays standards the 1088 cc engine may have seemed tiny, but the Subaru engineers were able to extract plenty of useable power, it rated at 62 bhp at 6,000 rpm.
The engine had a bore of 76 mm and a stroke of 60 mm, which helped explain the car's happy frame of mind at high revs. The standing quarter mile was completed in an astonishing 18.7 seconds, and the FF-1 boasted a very respectable top speed over 90 mph. Test runs cruising at 50 mph returned petrol consumption figures of 41 miles per gallon, so it was frugal too!
The engine was constructed mainly of aluminum alloy with a high efficiency combustion chamber design. Water cooled, the flat-four configuration gave an exceptionally smooth and silent ride as well as a low bonnet line.
The FF-1 also featured revolutionary in-board brakes and a twin-radiator system. The in-board brakes were located close to the differential, and were amazingly efficient.
The twin-radiator system was thermostatically controlled, it consisting of a main radiator and sub-radiator, the latter only coming into action when needed, eliminating power loss through overrheating or overcooling. There was no fan, and therefore no fan noise.
steering system was also considered very advanced for a car in the lower price bracket. The placing of the in-board brakes being close to the differential made it possible to use a centreepivot steering system, in which the king pin axis was identical with the center-line of the tire . This resulted in light steering even at very low speeds; no road shocks at the steering wheel; greater road-holding of the tires; increased comfort and stabilized riding.
The ride was firm, and the suspension handled rough roads without fuss. The suspension was independent front and rear, with torsion bar springing. Inside.the Subaru had a very high standard of finish throughout. The four-speed all-synchro gearbox operated through a snappy floorrshift. There was seating for five with comfort, with the fitment of reclining bucket seats in the front.
The dash was finished with a smart facia which included crash padding above, with a wood-grain panel mounted below. The instruuments and warning lights were grouped under a single non-glare shield. Controls for wipers, lights and heater were well placed and easily reached. Under the facia was a full-width parcel shelf. A deep trough behind the back seat also helped create useful additional stowage.
And perhaps best of all for such a small car, the boot was truly cavernous - the biggest of any car near the price. The spare wheel and jack were mounted in the engine compartment, and because there was no diff to get in the way, the boot was not cluttered. It could hold six full-set golf bags, and several travelling bags. Naturally there was even more space to be had when choosing the Wagon.
In fact, the Subaru FF-1 Wagon was the only one in its class to come with five doors. The amount of space in the vehicle was really amazing, practical, flat, wide, easy to get at. Standard kit on the FF-1 included : seat-belts, carpets, heater/demister, windscreen washers, padded dash and door trim. The Subaru Special model included all the above, plus white-walls, front arm-rest, dual horn, fuel-tank lock, bumper-guards, cigarette lighter and special chrome mouldings. The Sports model included a radio as standard equipment. Prices at introduction in 1969 were:
- 2-door Standard $1895.00
- 2-door Special $1969.00
- 4-door Special $2069.00
- 4-door Wagon $2274.00
- 2-door Sports $2499.00