April 5, 2021

THE UNKNOWN SUBARU- Malcolm Bricklin needed a scooter replacement. In Japan he saw a little car...

for $640 FOB- what could go wrong? The Subaru 360

Malcolm talks about how he discovered this little "toy" car and why. He explains how he got around barriers that the manufacturer (Subaru) thought were unsurmountable! He successfully imported it into the USA and CONSUMER REPORTS crushed it. What does a guy like Malcolm do then?? (very surprising! Starts with OH MY GOD and ends up THANK GOD)


I'm really sorry that we can't do it with the scooter. But you know, I saw your little 360. And I said, you told me at the time it was 640 bucks fo you fob calm, and I checked in it's $100 transportation, and $14 for duty. So I want to contract for that. Now what's the 360? Malcolm? I'm sorry. 360 was their little car that had a four cylinder engine. Unfortunately, there's no Yeah, they put oil and gas together to stroke to stroke and it's got 66 miles to the gallon. And it was adorable. I mean, I could sit in the car with a hat on, it was a little bit like a little egg. I could sit in with a hat on and there was enough room the way they packaged it and had leather seats and white wall tires and radio for 640 bucks. 747 75 minutes mine in the United States random Wow. I don't know a damn thing about the car business. But I know I can do something at that price. Whether I rent it out into the dollar a day, there's that something I could do with that. But I want the goddamn contract. I can do something here, rent them out. I mean, this is something great. Now remember, they're being polite. So they say to me, Mr. Brooklyn, we'd love the sound to problem is a couple of problems. One, we don't believe they'll buy little cars like this in the United States. So we don't think there's a market. And the second wall is the next year 1968 or 1969. We're somewhere in there. The federal regulations were starting to take effect for safety. So if you give us a million and a half dollars, so we can do all the things we have to do to the car to make it illegal for you to sell it in the United States. You can have the car. Now I knew that was sort of a polite way to go fuck yourself, right. But I said thank you very much. I got on a plane. And I flew to Washington, DC and I go into the office. And as their Give me the book on the federal regulations for safety. They gave me a book about two inches thick. First, I look at the outside. This is not for me. But I opened it up, I read the first couple of pages I read. I got I can't, I can't, I can't understand the damn thing here. I can't deal with it on this basis. I go back to the first page which said these rules, these safety rules are applied to all cars over 1000 pounds of curb weight. With curb weight, curb weight is sitting at the curb with all its fluids. All the gas filled in the air conditioning of an ASIC fluid filled in whenever you'd have fluid filled in. That's curved weight. My brochure says 960 pounds curb weight. What can you do to change the law if I stopped bringing these cars in the United States? They said the way it works. You bring something in, you get it we get enough complaints that triggers hearings, we have to have hearings on it so people can make their desires known. And then we pass them on then it takes two years to go into effect. I said simple. If I walk out this store and decide to bring in a car as soon as you can stop me as two years from now. They said no, no. Well, we told you it could be five, it could be 10. It could be never. It's a long time, not two years from now. But I said but for sure I got two years. Absolutely. What am I going to do? Take the brochure down to the IRS, they will give you an exemption. So I did. I called Japan I said I'm coming over, I need a meeting with the board of directors. It will be my last trip to Japan. If we can agree at this meeting. Malcolm um, they said take the brochure to the IRS or to like the D o t. Yeah, the IRS IRS office I go to an IRS.
And they gave me a piece of paper and they stamped it and said I can bring in this cup of coffee with the brochure attached without meeting the regulations. Okay, now I got that it's in my pocket. The first thing I do is go out and hire for the week. A friend, a friend, somebody an acquaintance of mine, that was 55 years old. And I was hiring him. So it looked like I had some people that were at age two. And I told him Your job is to come smile and say hello. Don't say anything else. Don't do anything else where you're just working with me. We find in Japan, we go in, it was a snowy day in Tokyo, which is very rare. With this, their offices were right across from the Shinjuku Station, which trillions of people go every day. And all these people running around in the snow which Tokyo is not, was not prepared for. So I remember that feeling of frustration with that snow coming down and then people running around and we're in the boardroom. And I say to him, thank them very much for their patience. I knew they were being tolerant. I wanted to tell them for sure, no matter what happens with us, I will never sue you. You do not have to worry about that. Don't have to react in any decision you're about to make based on a fear of me doing anything that would jeopardize your name, reputation or money. Oh, thank you. Thank you. Okay, so I said let's be real clear. gonna pull out all the stuffs. I happen to be politically connected in the United States. And I know you think I'm full of crap. So here's the deal. If I can get the United States government to give me an exemption to bring into your cars, you tell me that I have a contract for that car. And they said, Absolutely. And I pulled out that piece of paper and Subaru of America was formed. That's unbelievable. From the motor scooters that I couldn't sell was the was the make called Subaru in Japan. Did you come up with that name? Subaru is the name I came up with. They called it to Barbara. On Tuesday, they called the SU Babu here because I'm advertising agency One, two Subaru. Subaru is how you pronounce it there. And the five stars are the same. Now we only got the little car, then everything is going fabulous. Suddenly them as best as I can bring them in. I'm getting letters of credit. I needed that as a credit before they're getting on my bad ships and all stuff I had no idea about. And then one day consumer report comes out on the front cover Cadillac and his middle 360 with a shitty article that says unsafe because it didn't have to meet any regulations. Somebody calls me up and tells me about it. I said, What's consumer report? So they tell me? I said, Well, what's the circulation? They said half a million. So I said why do I care? Half a million people won't buy the car who gets them? They said no, that's not the problem. The problem is all the banks read it and the banks are cutting off the floor planning for the dealers for the car. Now. I got cars stuck on ships. I got cars being built. I got pieces being built that are going to the factory is going to be built. Holy moly. What am I gonna do? This has been Jeff Sterns connected through cars.