You've heard a lot about Subaru of America as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, but there are tales still untold. This one underscores how small decisions made from necessity can become vastly important later on.
In 1969, Consumer Reports gave the Subaru 360 a rare designation: "not acceptable." Oh, and the magazine also called it "the most unsafe car on the market."
After the 360's initial rush of sales to people craving cheap wheels, demand ground to a halt; distributors and dealers stopped ordering, drying up cash flow.
What to do?
In 1971, co-founder Harvey Lamm decided to take Subaru into small towns where the reputation of the local dealer was more important than awareness of the brand he was selling. Also, Consumer Reports was not widely read in the small towns and backwoods of places such as Vermont, Minnesota, Washington state, New Hampshire and western Pennsylvania.