CC Capsule: Subaru Justy – Last Of Its Kind On the Street Here?

I’d seen, but most of all heard this Justy that suddenly appeared around my part of town a couple of weeks earlier. And then I caught up with it across the street from some of my rentals, and even talked to the owner. There was a time when these were very common in Eugene; they really fit in with a certain segment of the population here, for whom a Subaru Loyale or Legacy was just way too big and extravagant. But they seem to all pretty much have gone the way of so many other artifacts of their time, the late 80s and early 90s. I wouldn’t be surprised if some ended up as chicken houses in the back yard.

But this one is in the hands of a young guy, who picked it cheap recently, and drives it like he stole it. Of course, given the Justy’s little 67 hp three-pot engine, that’s almost mandatory.

The Justy had two great claims to fame: it was the only car in its class that was available in 4WD, which is of course what has endeared it to its loving (and abusive) owners. As we can see, its off-rad capabilities have already been utlized by its new owner. Undoubtedly, that was what motivated him to buy it.

And it says so quite proudly on its back deck.

The drive to the independently suspended rear wheels was initiated by pushing a button embedded into the top of the shift lever.

There it is, the red button. As long as the Justy was pointed straight ahead, it could be actuated at pretty much any speed. Which invariably wasn’t all too high anyway.

Here’s the little 1.2 liter three cylinder. No, not all Subaru engines were boxers. And it had a balance shaft, so good vibrations were in its repertoire. And here’s another neat thing, that I only found out thanks to a comment left at one of our Just CCs (links below): the water pump is inside the engine, driven off that balance shaft, down below the crankshaft. Benefits? Sure. No pulley bearings to wear out, which inevitably is what wears out first. And it was undoubtedly well-lubricated.

And that other great claim to fame? The Justy was the first car available in the US with a CVT! Up to that point, only DAF offered one in Europe, and theirs was a rubber-belt affair. The Justy’s CVT was the forerunner of all modern CVTs, with a steel “belt” and all encased in a compact unit. Needless to say, its rep was a bit less than stellar, in terms of its feel, sound, and performance. I don’t know about its longevity, but the Justys I’ve still seen around in recent years seem to all be stick shifts.

It’ll be interesting to see how long this one keeps going; somehow I’m not too optimistic, given its current owner. But who knows?

But I’m not quite convinced this is the last one left in town, which justifies the question mark in the headline. Somewhere in Eugene, there’s probably an old hippie-grandma with white braids that still has her well-loved Justy, if she hasn’t yet replaced it with a Prius. What else would one replace a Justy with? There’s just nothing like it anymore.


More Justy reading:

David Saunder’s Justy CC (a serious look at the Justy)

My Justy CC: a decidedly less serious look at the Justy, titled: “The Mother Earth Newsmobile”