Five-Speed 4WD: 1992 Subaru Justy GL

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I don’t have to tell anyone that Subaru has made some quirky vehicles over the last half-century or more. From a two-stroke, rear-engine, rear-drive, “unacceptable” (according to Consumer Reports) 360 to a four-door 4×4 car with a pickup bed (Baja). This 1992 Subaru Justy GL 4WD sedan is another unusual one. This 4×4 is posted here on eBay in Broadview Heights, Ohio, and the current bid is $4,100.

Ahhh, that’s the Subaru Justy that most of us know and love, or not. A big rust hole, I knew that first side view was too good to be true. The seller says that this is it for rust, that left front fender, and that should be fixable for most weekend welders.

Subaru made the Justy beginning in 1984 until 1994 and after that, the name was used for several rebadged cars that were a Justy in name only. The Justy was here in the U.S. from 1987 until 1994. I like the boxy body style of the early cars, but I’ll take a fuel-injected car from around 1991 and on, every time, even though the quirky factor has been smoothed out a bit.

It’s a rare Justy that doesn’t need interior work and this one is no different. It looks like most of the damage is off of the funky patterned fabric, so that should be a relatively easy fix for any upholstery shop. Thankfully, this example has a 5-speed manual rather than the CVT automatic, and you can see the button on the top of of the shift knob to activate the 4WD system. These cars were little beasts off-road in 4WD, believe it or not.

The rear cargo area looks perfect and the luggage cover over the cargo area is like gold, you won’t find one if you need one for your Justy. The back seat looks perfect, and the seller includes an underside photo to show that it’s a solid car.

Being a 1992 car, this one does have fuel injection. This is Subaru’s EF12, a 1.2-liter inline-three engine, which put out 73 horsepower and 71 lb-ft of torque. If you’ve ever wondered about my three-cylinder user name icon, this is why I switched to that. I’m a rabid Subaru Justy fan, and a fan of three-cylinder engines, in general. This car runs great, it has air-conditioning, when-you-want-it 4WD, and four doors. What’s not to like? They aren’t for most muscle car lovers, but for those of us to like our vehicles on the quirky side, it doesn’t get much better. Have any of you owned a Justy?

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Comments

  1. angliagt angliagtMember

    We rented one of these (2 door,2WD) on the big island
    of Hawaii.It was about the most nothing car I’ve ever driven.Those three little Hamsters were running their little feet off.

    Like 14
  2. CadmanlsMember

    I remember these little cars and as it’s coming from the rust belt it looks amazing. Usually these just dissolved in this part of the country. Even though the left front fender didn’t escape the area it looks really good underneath. Milage isn’t terrible so someone like the author will be proud. One of those little Japanese economy cars of a different era.

    Like 2
  3. HoA Howard AMember

    Where else and by who else? A gal I knew had a Justy justa like a this. It replaced her 360 that was sidelined with a brake issue. Naturally, she thought it was quite an improvement, coming off an 360, I thought it had Yugo quality, and about as popular. Since the 360 was just more of a novelty, this was Subarus 1st entry in the AWD market, a Subaru exclusive to this day. I’m constantly amazed at the humble beginnings of these Asian cars, small, underpowered and well within the confines for THEIR country, but didn’t take long to “Americanize” them. This is mere shred of a modern Subaru. Subaru makes the best cars, but even the most loyal Subaru fan would never believe this started it all. The A/C will most assuredly have to be turned off on any hills.

    Like 6
    • karl

      Subaru makes the best cars ? I work at a Subarru dealership ; they are just a tinny as they were in the 80s and rust badly ( at least on the east coast) compared to ANY foreign or domestic vehicle . The engines go about 100k and then there’s head gasket issues, and generally head jobs , and before that, the engines have to be pulled to do cam case reseals. They also have a huge amount of recalls, most are done before they are made to do it , but there’s little that isnt getting changed out, from CVTs , condensers, brake lines, a/c lines, brake switches, catalytic converters , throttle units , occupancy sensors , pcv valves , tailgate latches ,just to mention a few in the last 3 years , and of course the Takata airbags. Meanwhile, the family Volvo we have has over 270,000 miles , has never been in a garage but is still rust free ,the motor has never been apart other than a timing belt replacement and other than general maintenance has been issue free ( and I dont really care for Volvos !)

      Like 2
  4. HadTwo

    Rented one like this and drove it all over, through, up and down
    Costa Rica including rain forest areas. It was a lengthy vacation.
    The four-wheel drive worked great and it was fun to shift. Good
    on gasoline too. We left Costa Rica as big believers in Subaurus.

    Like 3
    • Emel

      Glad to see you made it out alive. Maybe it was spelled wrong on the car down there. It’s Subaru. Kangaroo’s luv em. lol

      Like 3
  5. nlpnt

    This is one of those cars where four doors is rarer than two. IIRC the 4-door option only arrived on our shores a year or two after the facelift, past the halfway point of the design cycle.

    There were three driveline options 2wd/manual, 2wd/CVT and 4wd/manual. If you wanted 4wd without a clutch pedal you had to move up to a “big” Subie.

    Like 3
  6. Yankee Clipper

    I sold Subarus for 20 years. The Justy was advertised at the time as the least expensive 4WD you’d could buy. If you lived in Omaha where I am and needed a 4WD for snowy winters and did not have much money, this was the car to buy. Also way better than a pick up on gas mileage. People buying Justy’s weren’t looking for speed.

    Like 9
  7. BA

    I went with small vehicles because I wanted to save money on gas many moons ago but let’s just say I’m going to do a hard pass on anything like this because playing roller coaster momentum driving lost its flare in the smokey mountains with semis barreling down on you at warp factor 10 & your 3 cylinder is all in & gasping for breath at warp 2!

    Like 5
  8. BA

    Justy about get yourself run over & kill on I-75 is the whole story!

    Like 2
    • Jimmy Novak

      Then there are motorcycles, with two less wheels and no body protection.

      Oh, right … fenders. They do have fenders.

      Like 0
  9. Tony Primo

    The selling dealers nameplate looks REALLY BIG on this tiny car!

    Like 2
  10. Stan

    Saw them in Whistler BC 🎿 and Whiteface NY 🏔 great choice for the locals.

    Like 4
  11. erik johnston

    As a fanof the 85-94 loyal and gl-love them ,but the do have inherent Issues. Most Common is the over heating.A good one after it warms up would read about 1/3rd on the gauge under normal conditions. When they start to get up to 1/2 temp. pay attn: They 90 ,I had at the time was starting to read past the 1/3 point,One day we nad to take the daughter to a campfire girls weekend retreat. The after we left for the 20 mile Ish travel it was a hot day and all of us, About 10 miles into the trip it started to get hot.We still continued to get to our destination. By then the temp was pegged. No other things seemed to happen. We got the kid of to her group and hour later got back to the car.It was low on water so got some-filled it and back home we went.about 5 miles into the return I noticed white smoke out back and buy time we got home it had stopped smoking-no water left! So I parked it and got another rig. I knew i cooked the engine so being confused on how to pull the motor it sat a few months until i went at it . Long story short-when they start getting hot i found that the radiator gets older they get plugged. don’t keep going like i had to. I warped 1 head and the other was warped and cracked. Got it fixed and enjoyed many more miles with it. The cause was a plugged radiator changed that . sine then i really loved them and bought many with the overheated issue. I got hooked when i got my 1st 4wd. Since the then to this point i have been through 50 or more-love them,got 2 94s with that same issue.the connection to justy is they do the same(had 4 or more of those).other then that they are a very versatile car and 4-y are like snowmobiles in snow.If you are under 6FT tall you can sleep camp very well and desent MPG, lovethem

    Like 0
  12. Car Nut Tacoma

    Great article. I remember when the Subaru Justy offered here in the USA. I’ve never known anyone personally who drove one, but I’ve always thought it was a great idea. As nice a car as the Legacy may have been, not everyone needs or wants that large a car to drive. I’d be happy driving either a Legacy or a Justy 4wd.

    Like 2
  13. Wayne

    Hey Scotty, is that 3 cylinder just one bank off the H-6 they used in the XT? Love these little cars; they were quite popular in our area of Ontario once we got a local dealer in the late 80’s early 90’s. I don’t doubt the claim about their off-road capabilities, I had a Subaru Chaser 2 door with the 1.8 boxer 4 and 4 speed and that thing went anywhere that you cared to point it.

    Like 1
  14. Troy

    Maybe I should have waited, in June I paid $36000 for a new Subaru and I could have gotten this instead, but I guess since I sold my Tiguan for $25,000 and put that back in the Bank the new Subaru only cost $11,000 however I think based on the condition of this little car the odometer has rolled at least once

    Like 1
  15. Stephen MostadMember

    This comes from the depths of my quickly fading memory but… Justys basically disappeared off the roads of Ontario and Quebec back in the day, not so much because of rust (although I’m sure because of that too), but because Subaru Corporate had pretty decent prize money for anyone running their cars and winning with them in the Canadian Rally Championship series. Many of them were scooped up for very little $$$, rallied hard and put into the bin, no doubt. We are looking at a hen’s tooth, here.

    Like 1
  16. Joseph Rodrigues

    I had this lady friend that had one. It was gray and stick shift Subaru Justy.
    She was a wealthy woman but did not drive expensive cars so “she wound not be “sued by scammers…” according to her…
    She drove that car for years and I believe when she sold it, it had like 190K miles and never gave her any problems.
    I drove the car a few times and remember it was pretty “peppy” and fun to drive.

    Like 1
  17. PRA4SNW

    My first thought is that this would have made a great pizza delivery vehicle here in the Northeast back in the day.

    Like 1
  18. Jason

    We rented one of these in San Francisco in 1990 or so. Was driving to aLos Angeles. Great mileage but too light to be on a freeway where there might be any wind. It lost all power with the ac on. Check engine light came on and was a great excuse to trade for another car somewhere near San Luis Obispo. They gave us a brand new Olds 98 touring sedan for the price of the Justy. Aside from the terrific mpg’s, getting that Olds was the best thing about the Justy.

    Like 4
  19. Scott

    Wasn’t the Justy belt driven?

    Like 0
    • PRA4SNW

      Scott, I think you are correct. The automatics were CVT, the first time I had heard of this technology.
      My daughter’s Cube has one and it reminds me of driving a moped.

      Like 0
  20. gregv

    I just about bought one in light teal metallic, the lot wouldn’t budge on the price I bought a loaded Nissan Micra it was overloaded with every option including tachometer and sunroof . They looked identical body shape wise just not a4x4

    Like 1
  21. Patrick Jacobson

    My 1st 1987 finally passed on with 331,000 on the clock, absolutely no major repairs, my 2nd 87 was sold with 241,000, again, no major repairs, ever. I put those cars where I couldn’t drive my full sized Bronco.
    I loved those little hotrods.

    Like 0

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