This doesn’t seem like the sort of question that should be difficult, but I assure you, it is. I know it is because at a used bookstore I found the August 1964 issue of The Journal of Automotive Minutia Related Philosophical Concerns, and the cover story was about this very question, brought up at the AMRPC Symposium that year in Osaka, Japan. The debate became so heated that a massive riot broke out, forcing the conference to adjourn early, and leaving the question unanswered. So, it’s worth asking: does the Subaru 360 have a trunk?
The Subaru 360 is a small, rear-engined Kei-class car that was really the first successful Kei car in Japan. It was sort of Japan’s Volkswagen, the first real mass-market car affordable to most people, and is something of an icon among Japanese cars.
But does it have a trunk?
The reason this is a question has to do with the design of the car. While it has a front compartment, that compartment is tiny, and filled almost completely with spare tire, jack, brake fluid reservoir, and battery.
There’s no real provision under that tiny hood for cargo storage of any kind, so I’m hesitant to call that a trunk, especially because it demeans other tiny rear-engined cars that managed to design in a viable trunk in similar limited space.
Okay, so where did your luggage go in a Subaru 360?
According to brochures, there are designated luggage areas, and these are what I want to focus on:
I’ve labeled the two designated luggage areas A and B here. A is actually an under-dash shelf, and B is a shelf behind the rear seat:
The location of these luggage areas is quite similar to those of a VW Beetle, just much smaller in scale.
A Beetle has a real trunk up front with room for cargo separate from the areas for spare wheel and tools, and the behind-the-seat luggage area is an actual well, not a slightly recessed shelf. Of course, it’s a much larger car.
For the Subaru 360, I don’t think the rear luggage shelf qualifies for trunk status; a trunk should be a bit more separated from the main body of the car, and needs to be larger.
But that front under-dash shelf is pretty deep, and is sort of separated from the car, even though it’s effectively an open bin; do we call that a trunk?
There are other examples of similar storage areas that I think get trunk status, like this one, the early Sting Ray Corvettes:
In these Corvettes, the luggage area was behind the seats, and was just an open cubby that went from the main cabin area into an area that’s arguably separate from the main passenger cabin, but not divided with a lid or a fold-down seatback or something.
Is this considered a trunk?
If so, then I think the Subaru’s under-dash area should qualify as well.
But I’m not sure either of these actually qualifies for “trunk” status; but if they don’t, what are they? Luggage cubbies? Just general luggage “areas?”
What defines trunkhood? We know some sort of separation from the main passenger volume; that’s why we don’t think of hatchbacks and wagons as having “trunks.”
Does the ability to be closed off from the cabin manner, or is just a shape-and-volume-based separation enough?
Honstly, I’m not sure what to think, so I’m putting it out to the Greater Jalopnik Mind-Trust, in hopes of coming to a satisfactory conclusion, and, ideally, avoiding an outcome like the Great Osaka Scuffle of 1964.
Let’s solve this.