1990 Subaru Sambar (kei truck) driver here... - Fuelly Forums

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Old 06-28-2007, 10:28 PM   #1
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1990 Subaru Sambar (kei truck) driver here...

Hi all, I'm Colin - a 21-year-old guy from St. Joseph, Minnesota. I just finished attending school for auto body repair and now work full-time for my dad (delivering mushrooms for his farm) and part-time as a counter clerk at a local parts store.

I own a multitude of vehicles - got a few interesting ones, including an '82 BMW 320i, an '85 Merkur XR4Ti, a '94 Toyota Previa, and a '90 Subaru Sambar. My involvement on this site will mainly concern the Sambar, I think. The Merkur is hopelessly thirsty (at least until I finish tuning the Megasquirt,) the BMW isn't exactly running right now, and the Previa gets consistantly poor mileage - kind of what you might expect from an AWD minivan with 330k miles.

Aaaaanyway... I was screwing around on Craigslist in late April searching for a cheap Toyota pickup to blow my tax return on when I stumbled upon this tiny little Subaru. It was downright adorable. The price of the truck far exceeded my pathetic budget, but acquiring one of these kei-class trucks had suddenly become job one for me, so I ran down to the bank and took out a loan to cover it. Fast forward two months and here I am: daily driving the Sambar, getting 30ish MPG, and looking to log my mileage (and possibly improve it.)

My commute to work is around 15 miles, more than half of which consist of rural highways where a guy can easily exceed 60 mph. Needless to say, Fuji Heavy Industries didn't exactly intend some yahoo in the middle of America to be bombing around at 6,000+ RPM in their little city-oriented work truck. I'm going to run a tank through the truck without exceeding 90 kph (55ish mph) and see how my mileage is affected. I don't plan to modify the truck in order to increase my fuel economy; rather, I would like to change my driving style to do so.

Anyhow, that's a little bit about me and what I do. Thanks for having me.

Colin
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Old 06-28-2007, 10:34 PM   #2
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I think if i could get that type of FE i would have no problem driving a dildo shaped car.
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Old 06-28-2007, 10:40 PM   #3
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Click on "The Minimog" under my avatar for images of the Sambar.

Merkur images are located here.

Colin
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Old 06-28-2007, 11:05 PM   #4
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Plural, plural!
I always wanted one btw. Shame they're not legal for onroad stuff here.
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I think if i could get that type of FE i would have no problem driving a dildo shaped car.
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Old 06-29-2007, 12:30 AM   #5
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Colin -

Welcome to GS! A Kei trucklet, most coolio. It sounds like you have all the skillz to keep it running.

The Merkur XR4Ti is righteous. What did you do with the original rims? Those were my favorite wheels in the 1980's. I did eyelets for my Karmann Ghia in the 1980's too.

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Old 06-29-2007, 03:56 AM   #6
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Fun vehicle. I saw the Suzuki version in Ottawa earlier this month.

If you're doing mainly highway driving, and you won't mod the vehicle, your choices are basically limited to: slow down, or draft, or both. And I don't recommend drafting.

The aerodynamics of this vehicle are horrendous, obviously. That's the biggest problem.

You could easily achieve double digit percentage improvements in highway fuel economy with aero mods. Personally, I think a removable fiberglass aeroshell on the back of this thing wouldn't hurt its looks, and it certainly wouldn't make it any less distinctive! And you've got the skills, by the sound of it. The side aero (between f & r wheels) is also hurting big time.

You may be able to eke out smaller gains with invisible mods, like boosting the tire pressure; always pre-warming the engine (block heater); using the lightest viscosity engine oil you safely can; light synthetic transaxle oil; etc. (Search around for the big mods list elsewhere).

PS - welcome to the site!
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Old 06-29-2007, 06:56 AM   #7
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I assume your truck is similar to this one (at least in dimensions):



Cool truck!The aerodynamics are really bad. I would think that the gearing is really bad for mpg too. When looking on the internet people seem to think that kei trucks are good for 40 to 50mpg.
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:38 AM   #8
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Keis are fun. Their close ratio transmissions are not that great for highway mileage though! Neat find.
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:47 AM   #9
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If ever a vehicle and its usage was screaming for aero mods, it's this one. Do it!
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:16 AM   #10
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I would think that the gearing is really bad for mpg too. When looking on the internet people seem to think that kei trucks are good for 40 to 50mpg.
Unmodified, they probably are good for it - in top gear, at an average speed of 35 mph.
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