• Subaru Celebrates 50th Anniversary Of Boxer Engines

Legendary engine has been at the heart of Subaru’s success since 1966

In a year full of milestones and anniversaries in the automotive industry, Japanese automaker Subaru is also having a party of its own as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of its boxer engine. The horizontally-opposed engine has been at the heart of Subaru models since it was first unveiled in 1966. Now 50 years later, the boxer engine continues to be an integral part of Subaru.

It’s worth noting that Subaru is one of only two automakers to use a boxer engine design. The other one is Porsche, but unlike the German automaker, Subaru actually uses this engine on every single one of its models. So why is Subaru celebrating the 50th anniversary of an engine design? The answer to that is pretty simple. Without the boxer engine, there’s no telling where Subaru would be today. That’s the kind of importance Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru’s parent firm, places on the contributions the boxer engine has made in the success of the auto brand. The proof is in the pudding, too, as the boxer engine has powered over 16 million Subarus in the past 50 years.

In effect, Subaru’s boxer engines work because they form a compelling tag-team with the company’s multi-purpose all-wheel drive system. When the two work together, they create a more dynamic driving experience that’s predicated on handling and stability, even at high speeds. It’s no secret why Subaru’s performance cars – the WRX and WRX STI – have each established its own following. Simply put, drivers appreciate the what the boxer engine and the Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system do for each other and for the driver.

It’s easy to dismiss this celebration as something that’s being done to gain some headlines. But thinking along those lines is not only inaccurate, but it also cheapens the effect the boxer engine has had in the success of Subaru. We know what the boxer is like and we know why it’s important to Subaru. That’s why we’re raising our hands to toast the Japanese automaker on a celebration worth celebrating.

Happy 50th, boxer engine!

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

At the rate automakers are celebrating just about anything they can these days, it’s important that the things that matter are given their proper importance. For Subaru, the boxer engine is arguably one of the most important technological developments it has ever created. That means something and it’s only right that the Japanese company gives the boxer engine the recognition it deserves.

Here’s a little bit of history about the boxer engine. It got its name because its engine pistons were configured in such a way that when they’re moving, they resemble the natural movement of boxers trying to punch and counterpunch each other. But more than just the history behind its name, the unique movement of those pistons cancels out the inertia force of each other, effectively cutting down on the vibration that occurs inside the engine and improving the overall engine balance, allowing the car to have smoother acceleration at high speeds. The construction of the boxer also allows it to sit low in the chassis, improving the car’s center of gravity.

It’s no secret that Subaru’s success is tied into how it has been able to shape the boxer engine to fit into all of its cars. It’s not the perfect engine by any means – maintenance is one of its trickiest drawbacks – but it has worked for Subaru for 50 years. At the end of the day, the Japanese automaker has ridden with the boxer engine and all of its quirks. Judging by how far Subaru has come, I’d say that it’s done a pretty good job at fostering what it has into the successful company that it is.

Subaru WRX STI

2015 - 2016 Subaru WRX STI High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 548611

Read our full review on the Subaru WRX STI here.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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Press Release

Fuji Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of Subaru automobiles, this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of its horizontally-opposed ‘Boxer’ engine, so called due to the engine’s pistons resembling the punch-counterpunch motion of a boxer’s fists.

Subaru’s signature Boxer engine was introduced on the Subaru 1000 compact passenger car on 14 May 1966. Since then, Subaru has sought to maximise the advantages of its Boxer engines and continuously enhanced them to power its vehicles to this day. Today, every vehicle sold by Subaru is fitted with a Boxer engine*, with total production over the last 50 years topping 16 million units.

With the horizontally-opposed design of Subaru’s Boxer engine, the opposing pistons work to cancel out the inertia force of each other, resulting in less vibration and superb rotational balance to provide smooth acceleration right up to the highest engine speeds. Its compact form also allows it to be fitted lower in the engine bay than a conventional four-in-line engine, lowering the centre of gravity.

The Boxer engine is one of the key components that comprise Subaru’s distinctive Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system. Subaru Symmetrical AWD offers a combination of superior stability and traction, with the symmetrical layout of the drivetrain allowing a balanced weight distribution, aided by the longitudinally-mounted Boxer engine. This synergy between engine and drivetrain delivers excellent performance, both in terms of high speed stability and under cornering. Earlier this year, the Japanese brand announced the production of the 15 millionth Subaru vehicle equipped with its famous Symmetrical AWD system.

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