Subaru introduced the Justy mini-car in America in 1987. The stock two-door hatchback models had front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Eventually, Justy was best known for its available electronically controlled variable transmission (ECVT). Weighing less than 2,000 pounds, Justy achieved great mileage with its 1.2-liter, 66-horsepower, three-cylinder engine (with three valves per cylinder).
The 1989 Subaru team set a Bonneville Nationals land speed record in I Production that
remains to this day. (Team members, from left: Dennis Nusser, Roger Banowetz, Tim
Worletz, and Dean Fazioli.)
Roger Banowetz recently reminisced about modifications made to the #440 Justy in preparation for the 1989 run at Bonneville. “Overall we tried to do the maximum allowed by the rules to improve performance. The class selected was a Production Class, meaning the car was allowed minimal modifications.”
The modifications included those to the:
- The Class I Production limit is 1.0 liter, and the production U.S. Justy was 1.2 liters. So the crankshaft and rods were replaced by those from a 1.0-liter Japanese domestic engine.
- Regulations required intake and exhaust ports to remain in production locations. However, porting was allowed and done.
- High-compression pistons and custom-made camshaft were installed.
- A special intake manifold was fabricated to hold three Mikuni motorcycle carburetors – one for each cylinder.
- A special tube exhaust header was made.
- A fuel heat exchanger was added. When filled with ice and water, it cooled the fuel that went into the carburetors.
- Ram and cowl cold-air intake ducts were added – one beside the radiator and one at the base of the windshield. Cowl induction was fabricated at Bonneville using cardboard boxes and duct tape.
- The stock manual transmission was used, with automatic transmission fluid in place of conventional gear oil to help reduce friction losses.
- Wheel bearings – the lube was changed to automatic transmission fluid and grease seal tension springs were removed to reduce friction.
- Wheels – aluminum Moon discs were installed to help reduce aerodynamic drag.
- Tires – narrow tires were selected, and tire inflation pressure was raised to 60 psi to help reduce aerodynamic drag.
With the goal of reducing aerodynamic drag:
- Outside rearview mirrors and windshield wipers were removed.
- A Japanese domestic front chin spoiler and rear spoiler were installed.
- Ride height was lowered by removing springs and using only shock rubber jounce bumpers.
- All unused holes in the radiator support were covered.
- The front fender mounting holes were enlarged and fenders were moved in toward the hood to close body-panel gaps.
- Safety equipment was added – roll cage, safety harness, and halon fire suppression system.
- Much of the factory interior was left in place