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A Peek in the Performance Attic - Part Two



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


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