Fuji Heavy Industries started out as the Aircraft Research Laboratory in 1915, headed by Chikuhei Nakajima. In 1932, the company was reorganized as Nakajima Aircraft Company, Ltd and soon became a major manufacturer of aircraft for Japan during World War II. At the end of the Second World War, Nakajima Aircraft was again reorganized, this time as Fuji Sangyo Co, Ltd. In 1946, the company created the Fuji Rabbit, a motor scooter, with spare aircraft parts from the war. In 1950, Fuji Sangyo was divided into 12 smaller corporations according to the Japanese government's 1950 anti-zaibatsu legislation, the Corporate Credit Rearrangement Act. Between 1953 and 1955, five of these corporations and a newly formed corporation decided to merge to form Fuji Heavy Industries. These companies were: Fuji Kogyo, a scooter manufacturer; coachbuilder Fuji Jidosha; engine manufacturer Omiya Fuji Kogyo; chassis builder Utsunomiya Sharyo and the Tokyo Fuji Sangyo trading company.
Kenji Kita, CEO of Fuji Heavy Industries at the time, wanted the new company to be involved in car manufacturing and soon began plans for building a car with the development code-name P-1. Kita canvassed the company for suggestions about naming the P1, but none of the proposals were appealing enough. In the end he gave the company a Japanese name that he "had been cherishing in his heart": Subaru, which is the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster. The first Subaru car was named the Subaru 1500. Only twenty were manufactured owing to multiple supply issues. Subsequently, the company designed and manufactured dozens of vehicles including the 1500 (1954), the tiny air-cooled 360 (1958), the Sambar (1961), and the 1000 (which saw the introduction of the Subaru boxer engine in 1965).Their core of boxer-engined family cars. The last of Subaru's own kei vehicles to be built was the sixth generation Subaru Sambar, which was taken out of production in March 2012 after 54 years of continuous manufacturing in this category.