“Do you know about driving a Porsche on a farm for agricultural work? Have you heard of the Subaru Sambar for rural roads?”


subaru sanban-
porsche running on a farm road

Even people who have no interest in automobiles are likely familiar with the name Porsche. It’s an extremely expensive car that is out of reach for the average salaryman. However, in Japan, there is a light truck known as the “Porsche of rural roads,” which adopts the same engine and driving style as a Porsche, allowing for a similar driving experience. This vehicle is called the “Subaru Sambar.”


What is Porsche, to begin with?

The Porsche 911 (excluding the Boxster) utilizes the RR (Rear-Engine, Rear-Wheel Drive) layout, where the engine is placed in the rear of the vehicle to drive the rear wheels. In essence, it involves positioning the engine at the back of the car to power the rear tires.

The inspiration for adopting this layout dates back to World War II when Hitler asked Dr. Porsche to develop an affordable and safe car for the German people, under the condition that it would not be used for the war effort. The result of Dr. Porsche’s efforts was the Volkswagen Type 1 (Beetle).

This RR layout allowed the car to accelerate on unpaved roads with a low-powered engine and even budget tires, while accommodating two adults and two children. This decision to use the RR layout ultimately became synonymous with Porsche.


Subaru adopted Porsche’s RR (Rear-Engine, Rear-Wheel Drive) driving layout in its light truck, the Sambar.

The Subaru Sambar, a light truck, has been one of the models continuously produced by Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) since 1958 (Showa year 33).

It featured a 4-cylinder engine located at the rear end of the vehicle, with a 4-wheel independent suspension and an RR (Rear-Engine, Rear-Wheel Drive) configuration. There were also models with an extra-low gear (Extra-Low, or EL, which provides a more powerful gear than the first gear in standard manual transmissions) coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission (effectively 6-speed), including a supercharged version.

Even when empty, the RR layout’s weight distribution and independent suspension contributed to excellent traction on uphill slopes, especially on slippery inclines. Subaru’s unique and unparalleled mechanisms went beyond the usual standards for light trucks, offering exceptional driving performance, comfort, and practicality. It also excelled in terms of noise insulation.

However, on February 29, 2012, Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) discontinued production of its light commercial vehicle division. Toyota’s subsidiary, Daihatsu, took over production. Daihatsu’s version featured a 3-cylinder engine and a semi-cab-over style with a front-engine, rear-wheel drive (FR) configuration. This marked the end of Subaru’s 54-year history of producing light vehicles since the introduction of the Subaru 360 “Tentoumushi” in 1958.



The 50th-anniversary edition of the 6th generation, called the “Sambar Truck WR Blue Limited,” was released for sale. This vehicle commands high prices in the used car market.

In July 2011, to commemorate its 50th anniversary, Subaru released a limited edition of the “Sambar Truck WR Blue Limited,” with only 100 units available, including both truck and van versions. The 6th-generation models, TT1 and TT2, have been quite popular, with used car prices often exceeding one million yen.

The TT1 model is available in rear-wheel drive (FR) only, while the TT2 model offers 4WD. The 4WD automatic transmission model automatically engages 4WD when a rotation difference occurs between the rear and front wheels. The 5-speed manual part-time 4WD model allows the driver to switch between 2WD and 4WD using the gear lever.

For the latter part of the 6th generation, there are five grades in ascending order: TB, TC, TC High Roof, TC Supercharger, and the specialized VB Panel Van. We recommend the TC entry-grade model, which comes equipped with power windows, keyless entry, air conditioning, power steering, CD audio, and two speakers as standard features.


Rare Subaru Sambar models designed for commercial use are scarce and not easy to come by.

A model called “JA Sambar” was released specifically for farmers, but it was exclusively sold through agricultural cooperatives, making it unavailable for purchase from Subaru dealerships. As a result, it is an extremely rare vehicle with very limited presence in the used car market.

Similarly, the “Akabo Sambar,” designed exclusively for members of the Akabo cooperative, is also a rare vehicle that could only be purchased through the Akabo cooperative. It remains a scarce find in the used car market as well.


I have summarized information about the Subaru Sambar.

Currently, Subaru no longer manufactures the Subaru Sambar. It is a compact truck that has gained high rarity value in the used car market and is traded at premium prices among enthusiasts. Recently, there has been a growing popularity of Japanese kei cars in the United States, making it even more challenging to acquire one. A compact truck with such features is unlikely to be produced again. I have provided information about the “Porsche of rural roads,” the Subaru Sambar, which can navigate the country lanes.