We wouldn’t call the car chase in the 1978 movie Double Clutch one of the all-time greats, but it’s definitely the only Subaru Leone vs. Subaru Leone car chase ever committed to film. We posted a shorter version of this clip back in 2009 but that one has since disappeared into the internet’s black hole of ones and zeroes. Here’s a longer version of the chase.
Despite its title, Double Clutch isn’t really about racing or driving. The plot centers around the hardscrabble lives of a brother and sister (played by Hiromi Go and Keiko Matsuzaka, respectively). The older sister begins an affair with her former high school teacher (Takeo Chii) that goes south when she gets pregnant, prompting him to force a miscarriage.
It’s pretty dark stuff, but that’s the setup for the big finale car chase. Oh, and apparently when everyone was still on good terms the teacher bonded with the brother over cars and taught him how to pass his driver’s license exam. The brother then buys his “dream car” — a product-placed Subaru Leone 4WD Sedan.
Right before the chase begins, the brother confronts the teacher and notices incriminating evidence on the latter’s car, also a Leone. It’s still an “underdog prevails” story though, because the villain drives a Leone RX, the decked-out rally-spec model that featured a close-ratio transmission and stiffer suspension. Slightly misleading is the fact that the RX is the one on many of the promotional materials.
The Leone was the world’s first mass-produced 4WD car that wasn’t an SUV, and the movie makes sure to take the chase off-road. There’s even a close-up of the brother shifting from front-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive with the lever as he encounters the dirt road. The movie was promoted in magazines of the day and the cars always featured front and center, so Subaru definitely got its money’s worth out of it.