Junkyard Gem: 1993 Subaru Justy 4WD GL

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What was the cheapest new four-wheel-drive car available in the United States during the early 1990s? No, it wasn’t the Subaru Loyale sedan, nor was it the Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz AWD. It was the Subaru Justy 4WD, a tiny three-cylinder machine available here for the 1988 through 1994 model years. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those now-rare cars, found in a Northern California boneyard a few months back.

43 1993 Subaru Justy in California junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The MSRP for the Justy 4WD GL two-door hatchback for 1993 was $9,478, or about $21,073 in 2023 dollars. This car is the four-door hatchback, so its list price started at $9,913 (around $22,041 after inflation).

34 1993 Subaru Justy in California junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

There was one new four-wheel-drive truck that was a bit cheaper than the Justy in 1993: the Suzuki Samurai 4WD, which cost $8,599 ($19,119 now) that year.

19 1993 Subaru Justy in California junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

The Justy was slow, to put it mildly, with its fuel-injected 1.2-liter SOHC straight-three generating 66 horsepower and 73 pound-feet; some sources say that Suburu was still putting carburetors in U.S.-market Justys as late as 1993, but the earliest I’ve seen so equipped was a 1992 model. This car just barely managed to tip the scales at a ton (curb weight was 2,045 pounds for the four-door), so it was light enough to beat a 49-horsepower Geo Metro XFi in a drag race.

08 1993 Subaru Justy in California junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

Of course, the Justy was even slower with Subaru’s CVT bolted to its engine. This one has the base five-speed manual. The 4WD button on the shift knob was used to switch between front- and four-wheel-drive; leave the car in 4WD on dry pavement for too long and you’d wear out the tires and possibly break drivetrain parts.

11 1993 Subaru Justy in California junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

Earlier Justys had five-digit odometers, but this one has six digits and so we can see that it just squeaked past 200,000 miles during its life.

17 1993 Subaru Justy in California junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

It’s rusty for a California car, but its final parking spot is close to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and so perhaps it spent every winter buried in snow.

15 1993 Subaru Justy in California junkyard photo by Murilee Martin

You’ll find one in every car. You’ll see.

A Range Rover that’s more in your range.

The off-roading sequence in this commercial requires some suspension of disbelief.

Subaru shipped a right-hand-drive Justy to California in order to shoot this commercial.

A sedan version of the Justy was sold in Taiwan as the Subaru Tutto.