The Norman Transcript


January 5, 2013

1970 Subaru Sambar may be tiniest truck in town

NORMAN — In 2011, Wayne Saunders bought himself a birthday present that is undoubtedly the smallest street-legal truck in Norman. It’s a 1970 Subaru Sambar 360.

Assembled in Japan by Fuji Heavy Industries, there’s nothing weighty about the miniscule workhorse. It tips in at 1,020 pounds and is powered by a 360cc engine. Most American motorcycle riders would reject a motor that size as being too small. This little two-cycle beast powers a truck that can haul a driver, passenger and payload in the shallow bed. It easily cruises at 50 mph. “I like that it gets 60 miles to a gallon of gasoline,” Saunders said. He found the Subaru for sale on-line by its original owner in Long Beach, Calif. Saunders named the miniscule truck “Smokey” because two-stroke engines burn oil by design as piston lubricant. Smoke comes out the tailpipe and there’s a message stenciled on the rear glass that states, “If it’s not smokin’ it’s broken.” One reason Smokey was for sale is that she couldn’t pass California’s tough tailpipe emission standards and couldn’t be registered there.

Wayne Saunders has an affinity for micro vehicles that predates his first Oklahoma driver license over fifty years ago. His first ride wasn’t even a car, it a succession of motor scooters. But the 14 year old had his sights set on a big wheel motorcycle. Against his mother’s wishes, Saunders’ step-dad helped him acquire a 1947 Triumph 650cc Thunderbird motorcycle. She protested that the bike was too big. “When he learns how to put it together, he’ll know how to ride it,” his diesel mechanic step-dad wisely replied. The big British bike was actually a frame and three bushel baskets of parts needing to be assembled into a functioning motorcycle. It took young Saunders over a year of working to buy needed components and put the Triumph back together. But that experience helped launch a decades-long career repairing and selling small vehicles.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Chamber Banquet During annual banquet, Chamber of Commerce promotes moving Norman forward

    Amidst the backdrop of music, dancing, dinner and fellowship, business leader Mike Fowler announced that the time for a quality-of-life initiative in Norman has come. As incoming Norman Chamber of Commerce board chairman, Fowler and ...

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Symposium speaker Paul Polik: Commerce can help and bring millions out of poverty

    How to harness the power of commerce to address social and environmental challenges in sustainable ways was the topic of discussion at the University of Oklahoma Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth’s fourth annual Social ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Amber waves turn gray as farms lose younger generation

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Jerry Pfeiffer was thrilled when his son, Kelsey, 25, announced plans to return to the family’s farm in Orlando....

    April 18, 2014

  • Postal retiree luncheon set

    A postal retiree luncheon will be 11:30 a.m. Monday at Golden Corral Buffet and Grill, 123 N. Interstate Drive in Norman. Diners will meet in the lobby. For more information, call Joyce Carle at 872-5157....

    April 18, 2014

  • Flapjack fundraiser set

    The Apple Gold Group, a franchisee of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar, will partner with the Global Outreach Team at Go Church to host a Flapjack Fundraiser on April 26. Proceeds raised will be used by team members to purchase ...

    April 18, 2014

  • OU Hornsemble goes to the movies

    The OU Hornsemble will present a concert of music from the cinema at 6 p.m. April 27 in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall. Billed as “Movie-Time Music,” the ensemble will present a wide variety of cinematic music from the 1940s to the ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    DENVER — A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions....

    April 18, 2014

  • Fallin disappointed SBAdenied loans

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin said Thursday she is disappointed that a federal agency denied a request for loans to businesses in two Oklahoma towns affected by an emergency bridge closure....

    April 18, 2014

  • Sudan: 12 die after mob attacks UN base

    JUBA, South Sudan — An angry mob of South Sudanese youths attacked a U.N. base on Thursday to harm members of an ethnic minority sheltering inside. Peacekeepers were forced to open fire, amid rampaging violence that killed at least 12 ...

    April 18, 2014

  • Woman bound over for trial

    A Slaughterville woman facing a manslaughter charge after the death of an 8-year-old child was bound over for trial this week after a preliminary hearing in Cleveland County District Court. Kimberly Dawn Wenthold, 29, was charged in ...

    April 18, 2014