This past Sunday, before I hit the gym, I noticed a totally unremarkable blob of whiteness turning into the same supermarket parking lot that I was entering. My CC alarm started to ping. Could this be, was it possible that this might be, a veritable CC sighting? I ran down my checklist. Rare? Thankfully, even in Utah. Bereft of any Car Guy (and Gal, Gem & Jana) interest whatsoever? Totally. CC serendipity? You betchum.
The Justy 5-door was sold in the US from 1992 through 1994. It had a 1.2 liter, port-fuel injected, inline three based on the Suzuki G10. “AWD” also indicates that this Justy had a unique (within the company’s line-up) transverse-engined on-demand 4-wheel drive system, dinstinct from their now-relabeled “Symmetrical All Wheel Drive,” the full-time all wheel drive systems that Subaru introduced in 1988 and made standard throughout on all the vehicles that it sold in the US starting in 1997. This was part of Subaru’s reinventing itself.
It didn’t have much of a choice. Sales were in the crapper, and Justy sales (2444 units during eight months in 1992) barely registered in the US marketplace (nor did the Legacy, for all intents and purposes). Subaru sales for all models had fallen from a high 183,242 units in 1986 to 100,619 units in 1994. Subaru had to focus and had to differentiate itself from the Toyotas, Nissans and Hondas of this world. AWD was the key.
In Randall Rothenberg’s “Where The Suckers Moon” 1994 treatise on Subaru of America’s search for a new advertising agency, Wieden & Kennedy, the Portland, OR agency that won the account, determined that Subaru’s reputation in the US was for “cheap and ugly” cars. This was at a time Subaru was trying to elevate its image with the Giugiaro-designed SVX. From 1992 through 1997 this overpriced turd only sold 14,000 units in the US. Didn’t work, largely due to the $28-35,000 price tag. Nor did Wieden & Kennedy’s advertising. Wieden & Kennedy spent most of the 1992 budget on two SVX television ads. When shown to an annual sales meeting with Subaru dealers, one lamented that he didn’t need to move SVXs, he needed to move Legacies whose sales had continued to drop.
That’s a far cry from today, be it in a supermarket parking lot or at my gym, at least in Utah. These parking lots could be confused for Nate Wade Subaru (the oldest Subaru dealer in the US) or Mark Miller new car lots. Subaru sold 424,683 cars in the US in 2013.
The driver of the Justy looked to be in a rush and was wearing a tie. This pretty much meant that he and his son were on their way to their local Ward. So I don’t know how many miles were on this thing, or whether it had the CVT or manual transmission.
Although Utah doesn’t use a lot of salt on roads other than I-15 or I-80, this 20-year old Justy would indicate either very low mileage or usage only on local streets.
Once again we have a CC phenomena of Rare, but So What?
(Editor’s note: Fuji gave serious consideration to abandoning the US market in the early nineties. I suspect they’re glad they didn’t. 2015 sales are roaring ahead, up almost 25% over 2013. – PN)