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Originally started in 1917 in aircraft research, and making airplanes for the Japanese air force as part of that country’s war effort, Nakajima Aircraft Co. Ltd. was reorganized postwar as Fuji Sangyo. Further reorganizations and mergers saw Fuji Heavy Industries emerge in 1955. The first Subaru car was produced in 1954, its engine having some relation to a Peugeot design. The company soon produced minicars, plus a range of four-wheel-drive models through the 1970s that its modern reputation is founded on.

Nissan became a shareholder in 1968, its 20 per cent stake eventually sold to GM in 1999. Toyota acquired an 8·7 per cent stake in 2005 from GM, and GM later divested the remainder of its shares.

During the GM tie-up, two badge-engineered models were produced: the Saab 9-2X, which was a facelifted Subaru Impreza; and the Subaru Traviq, a badge-engineered Opel Zafira A. Now, with Toyota in the frame, various Daihatsus and Toyotas are being sold with Subaru badges, alongside Subaru’s own designs.

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