The 5th Tokyo Motor Show was opened

Friday 10th October 1958

The 5th Tokyo Motor Show was opened. Many innovative models were exhibited. A midget car, “Subaru 360” attracted much attention amid the people’s car boom. Noted for its small overall size, 1,000 lb curb weight, monocoque construction, swing axle rear suspension, fiberglass roof panel, and rear-hinged doors, the inexpensive car was designed in response to the Japanese government’s light car or Kei car regulations and its proposal for a larger “national car,” both intended to help motorize the post WWII Japanese population. The 360’s overall size and engine capacity complied with Japan’s Kei car regulations. Nicknamed the “ladybug” in Japan, and ultimately superseded by R-2, the 360 was one of Japan’s most popular cars and was available in a single generation in two-door, station wagon, “convertible” (coupe with roll-back fabric roof) and sport model variants.10,000 were sold in the United States, imported by Malcolm Bricklin — advertised as “Cheap and Ugly.” The nameplate 360 derived from its tax-limited engine displacement: 356 cc engine. It had a top speed of 60 miles per hour. Consumer Reports recorded a 0-60 time of about 37 seconds and reported 25–35 miles per gallon,[7] despite Subaru’s claimed 66 mpg. When introduced in 1958, the 360’s engine produced 16 hp (12 kW). By the end of production, power had increased to 25 hp (19 kW) with a 36 hp (27 kW) twin-carbureted engine optionally available. Production reached 392,000 over its 12-year model run.

Also popular were the 1.5-litre Toyota Crown prototype, equipped with the world’s smallest diesel engine, the Prince 1900 production model, and a unique car, “Mikasa Touring” equipped with a 600cc engine and torque converter. Japan’s first bus equipped with air suspension system, developed by Minsei Diesel Engineering, also drew much attention. This was the year Toyota, Nissan, and Fuji Precision Machinery started full-scale exports of the Crown, Datsun, and Skyline to the U.S. At the Australian Rally, famous as the world s roughest race, Datsun 1000 (Fuji) won the championship in its class. Crown also competed. Thus, Japanese cars were beginning to be known overseas. Visitors to the Motor Show included a few foreigners, another new feature at this Show.

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