Subaru Sambar was 1961 Kei-class trucks on the Japanese market. The model varies from minibusses, high-roof vans, and dump trucks. The name “Sambar” is based on the deer species called Sambar, which was often used in India to carry small loads.
Since its launch, the Sambar has a rear engine with rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive has been available as an option since 1980. In Europe, the Sambar was converted into an electric car by Elcat Electric Vehicles from Finland.
In 1984, it was introduced in Europe as Subaru 600/700 (in Germany), Subaru Domingo (in Austria and Switzerland), Subaru Sumo (in the United Kingdom) or Subaru Columbus (in Sweden). The reason for this different name was a possible conflict with Volkswagen when using the name Sambar. Shortly after the introduction of the Subaru 600/700, there was a competition to find a unique name for the European, which results in Subaru Libero for most European markets.
In 1990, the minibus version was renamed Subaru Sambar Dias-Wagon. Since 2009, it is no longer based on the Sambar, but on the Van Daihatsu Atrai.
This article will show you the best-selling Subaru Sambar model made in Japan. Then, we will show you how to get the best price of the vehicle. Let’s begin!
Subaru Sambar 1st generation
The first generation was built from 1961 to 1966. From the beginning in 1961, the Sambar had 4-wheel independent suspension and a rear engine with rear-wheel drive. This system allowed a balanced weight distribution.
Subaru Sambar was first introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1960. A minivan and a minibus version were also available. The chassis was a lead frame construction. The engine of the so-called EK series was accessible by opening the hatch on the rear vehicle, similar to the Volkswagen transporters T1 to T3. The front doors were so-called suicide doors. Bunk beds were optionally available for outdoor camping use.
The Sambar was developed to carry small loads. In 1961, the Suzulight Carry (later known to us as Suzuki Carry) was the first competitor on the market. In 1963, the Honda T360 followed, and in 1964, the Daihatsu Hijet and in 1966 the Mitsubishi Minicab also joined the market share.
Subaru Sambar 2nd generation
The second generation was built from 1966 to 1973. In January 1966, the Sambar appeared with a new body, but the same chassis. For the first time, a dump truck called a Kei Truck in Japan was also introduced. The engine evolved to be the 356 cc EK engine with 20 HP, which has been used in the Subaru 360 since July 1964. Then, a high roof model of the second generation launched in 1968.
In 1970, the engine was accessible from outside the rear of the vehicle, and conventionally hinged doors replaced the classic suicide doors. To improve safety, Subaru had built a fully upholstered dashboard, which came from the new Subaru R-2. The body was modernized at the front and adapted to the design of the new Subaru L series.
Subaru Sambar 3rd generation
The third generation was built from 1973 to 1982. The third generation appeared the first time on February 10, 1973. At that time, the nickname was Tsutomu Tsuyoshi Sambar, following its Japanese advertising campaign.
The water-cooled engine has two strokes, two-cylinder, and 356 cc From February 1976, the water-cooled EK21 four-stroke engine from the Subaru Rex was launched to reduce emissions. The windshield washer fluid was delivered using an electric pump instead of the previous foot pedal operation.
Three months later, the 490 cc (EK22) engine was optionally introduced. This engine was replaced in March 1977 by the 550 cc (EK23) engine. Nowadays, the export version of the Sambar 700 is available with a 665 cc version of the EK-23 engine. Side sliding doors were also available on both sides. These were installed as standard in export. A central sunroof was optionally available from 1979.
In 1980, an optional switchable all-wheel drive was offered for the first time on all variants. This model led to the first sales successes in Europe.
Subaru Sambar 4th generation
The fourth generation was built from 1982 to 1990. On May 9, 1982, the fourth generation of Sambar appeared. MacPherson struts were now installed for the front axle. The wheel size increased from 10 to 12 inches, which meant that larger drum brakes used on all four wheels.
The all-wheel-drive model was now available with a dual-range gearbox. This version is called Sambar Try, a better-equipped model of the minibus version.
While the model was offered on the home market with the EK23 engine (544 cm³, 2 cylinders, 21 kW / 29 PS), the export versions received an enlarged 665 cm³ version of the same engine. Therefore, it had a power improvement of 23 kW (31 hp). The EN05 four-cylinder engine from the Subaru Rex was not offered because many modifications would have been necessary due to the rear engine principle.
In 1983, high-roof versions with the 3-cylinder EF10-1000 cm³ engine were again available in Europe as the Subaru 700. The normal/flat roof version with the smaller 665 cc engine was offered as the Subaru 600.
From 1984 the Subaru 600/700 was no longer officially offered in Europe and was only imported through independent dealers and exporter like us. Due to the larger engines, the model always exceeded the requirements of the Kei class.
This enlarged version was now offered in Japan as Subaru Domingo. It is upgraded with better interior features such as a standard central sunroof and an all-wheel drive. The model was gradually released as a minibus or minivan version under the names Subaru Libero (Japanese: Domingo), Subaru Sumo (GB), Subaru Domingo (e.g., Austria and Switzerland) and Subaru Columbus (Sweden) introduced.
From January 1987, the central sunroof was equipped with an electric drive as standard. Front disc brakes were now standard equipment. An automatic transmission was also available as an option.
In April 1989, a six-valve engine with 25 kW (34 hp) became the standard engine. The four-wheel-drive was no longer an option but permanently available.
How to Buy Subaru Sambar at the Best Price
No, It’s not from Japanese Car Auction. A better choice is to get it directly from trusted dealers in Japan. If you have no idea which trusted dealers to contact in Japan selling classic Kei trucks, we can help! We always export the car we get directly from the official dealer, not a third hand or an auction. This way, the vehicle remains excellent and available at its best price. Are you looking to order a mini Japanese truck safely? You can contact us on our WhatsApp at +81 90 8832 6621 or email us at [email protected]