The Subaru Rex
The Subaru Rex, also known as Ace, Viki, Sherpa, 500/600/700, Mini Jumbo or M60/M70/M80 in various export markets, is a kei class car produced from 1972 to 1992 mostly sold in Japan by Subaru, although it was also sold in Europe, South America, Australia and the Caribbean. The Rex was Subaru’s kei car, and it was available in commercial use versions as well as in a passenger car version. It had major changes in 1976, in fall 1981, and also in 1986. The second generation Rex also made the basis for the larger Subaru Justy.
The name “Rex” comes from the Latin word for “king”. In some export markets, the Sambar microvan has been marketed as the “Rex Combi”.
The Rex (with the chassis code of K21) was firstly introduced in 1972 and it was the replacement for the Subaru R-2.
The Subaru Rex originally featured the same water-cooled 356 cc EK34 two-stroke engine as used in the R-2, and was available only as a two-door sedan. Outputs were between 32 and 37 hp (24, 26 or 27 kW).
In February 1973 a four-door sedan was added. The EK34 engine came with a 32 hp (24 kW) single carburetor on the Custom L, Super L, and other trim levels down to Standard, or a 37 hp (27 kW) double carburetor for the sporty GSR. The TS (Touring Sport) received a 35 hp (26 kW) version.
In October 1973 the two-stroke was replaced by a 358 cc rear-mounted, watercooled, two-cylinder, four-stroke engine called the EK21. This engine produced 31 HP (23 kW) at a peaky 8000 rpm and 29 N⋅m (22 lb⋅ft) of torque at 6500 rpm, and featured Subaru Exhaust Emissions Control (SEEC). The car also received a minor facelift and a new chassis code: K22. Front disc brakes were also introduced as an option at the same time. The four-stroke Rex could reach a top speed of 110 km/h (68 mph). The three-door, two-seater Van (K42) arrived in the next year, when a five-speed version was also added. The Van’s engine was in a lesser state of tune and produces 27 HP (20 kW).
In September 1974, along with a minor facelift consisting of a new grille and bumpers adjusted to allow for the fitment of larger license plates, a Wagon version (K26) appeared. This received four permanent seats, but was no longer registerable as a commercial vehicle and had a considerably lower max load. At the same time, a Larger version of the Van was added. The Wagon also received a lower tuned four-stroke engine, with 28 HP (21 kW) at 7500 rpm but torque increased somewhat to 30 N⋅m (22 lb⋅ft) at 5700 rpm. In April 1975 the Van received a higher roof and became a four-seater. This was necessary because of the new Japanese commercial vehicle regulation which required the floor to be completely flat when the rear seat is folded. Because the Rex’s engine was mounted in the rear, the cargo floor was pretty high, meaning that more head room would be required before a seat could be installed. The Wagon continued in production until the SEEC-T version was introduced in December, but it lost most of its market with the availability of a four-seater Van.
In August 1981, the second-generation Subaru Rex was front-wheel drive, with a new chassis and independent suspension all around. Subaru stated that the only parts of the rear-engined predecessor to have remained were “two connecting rods and an ashtray”. Power remained at 31 HP, with a twin-barrel carburettor. Three and five-door hatchback versions were available.Optional on-demand 4WD became available after October 1983, a first for the class. The 4WD system was electrically engaged by depressing an embedded switch on top of the gear shift. A turbo was introduced on the 4WD Rex in December 1983 to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions. The “Rex Dinos”, a trim level introduced in 1982, was only available by mail order catalog. This generation used a GM platform
In the European markets, this car was originally marketed as the Subaru 600 or Mini Jumbo. In September 1982 it became the Subaru 700, and it received a larger 665 cc version of the two-cylinder,producing 37 HP. The engine used a single-barrel carburettor. Top speed was 125 km/h (78 mph), compared to 110 km/h (68 mph) for the 31 HP version. Production ended in September 1986, as Subaru was getting ready to introduce the third generation Rex.
The third generation (KG/KN) was presented in November 1986 with the commercial spec Rex Combi with either three or five doors. The sedan version, intended for private use, was added a month later. In addition to an SOHC two-valve engine with 30 PS (22 kW; 30 bhp), a version with three valves per cylinder (two intake and one exhaust) and 36 PS (26 kW; 36 bhp) was also available. There was no turbo version of the new Rex. A two-speed automatic transmission was also available, as was a part-time 4WD system. “Twin Viscuous” full-time 4WD with a limited slip differential for the rear axle was made available in February 1987. From this point all four-wheel drives received the more powerful three-valve engine.A CVT transmission was added June 1987, called ECVT.
A supercharged version with an intercooler and electronic fuel injection was added to the options list March 1988 as a response to the success of the Alto Works and Mira TR-XX. The output of the engine increased to 55 PS (40 kW; 54 bhp). A supercharger meant less lag than for a turbo, although specific output tended to be somewhat lower than the competition. This was available for both the 3- and 5-door versions. May 1988 saw an available electrically deployed canvas top added to the 3-door. The turbo and later supercharger were installed in Japan to improve tailpipe emissions, with an added benefit of increased horsepower, as Japanese drivers are taxed on the emissions their car produces as of emission legislation passed by the Japanese Government in 1975.
June 1989 Subaru did a small facelift and replaced the EK series engine with the four-cylinder EN05 With 38hp available to the standard engine and 61 hp from the supercharged engine. Naturally aspirated models received a new bonnet while the supercharged models retained the normal looking hood and got a new four-hole grille. The KH1/2 series Rex (KP1/2 for the commercial Rex Combis), remained available in combination with the ECVT transmission and four-wheel-drive versions, but the two-speed automatic stopped production. In July, versions for foreign continents (M70 in Europe, Sherpa in Australia) received the same changes and switched from the 665 cc 37 PS (27 kW) two-cylinder to become the M80 in Europe, the Ace in New Zealand and the Fiori in Australia.
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