Justy Little Project Car: 10 Percent of the World's Supply

When you order OEM car parts from some of these third-party resellers, they’ll ask for a VIN so they can confirm that you’re ordering the right part. After I placed my order, I received an email that said this:
“There is an issue with the VIN # you provided. If this is a US market vehicle, then the number provided is incorrect, please double check it for accuracy. If this is a foreign market vehicle, please be aware we cannot specify parts or check fitment.”
Weird. The steering wheel is on the correct side. All the controls are in English. This has to be a US-market Subaru Justy, right?

I called a Subaru dealership to find out, and I was surprised at what the details they gave me. Yes, the gentleman confirmed, it’s a US-market Justy.  He also said:

  1. It was first sold on January 3, 1991 at Bob Ciasulli Subaru on Route 46 East, in Little Falls, New Jersey. The dealer appears to no longer exist.
  2. That it was white with grey interior (same as today).
  3. The key number, in case I want a brand new one made.
  4. And that it came to the U.S. on ship number 501. I don’t know what that means, but it’s a fun enough detail that it makes me want to call about all my future project cars.

This was good enough for the parts guy, so I finished processing the order, bought a bunch more parts on RockAuto, and once it arrived, I took it to the machine shop. That whole endeavor was covered in my last update.
But as I looked at reassembling the engine, there were just a few more seals I needed that weren’t included in the gasket set.
The rear main bearing cap on this engine (photo at top) also acts as part of the rear main seal support. It slides out in one big piece from the back of the engine, and has these two small rubber rectangles to seal the sides of it. As you can see, my existing ones were hard, brittle, falling apart. The piece sticking out of the end is a metal rod that helps the seal keep its shape.
After failing to find an aftermarket pair on the Internet, I went to my local Subaru dealer. Sure, he said—after spending 10 minutes going through parts diagrams to find this particular piece—he can order them. Then he said, ” There’s only 24 of these left in the world. It’ll be four bucks for a pair.
Of course I ordered a pair. I am now the owner of roughly 10 percent of the world’s supply of something.
At this point I can begin putting the engine back together and, in that process, find out what other seals are missing from the set.
An aside: my Justy decided to remind me recently of how long it’s been immobile in my garage by sprouting mold on the steering wheel. I’m glad I noticed it when I did, because the mold had already started to migrate to the seat fabric. I applied vinegar to a towel and wiped it down. I’d have preferred bleach, but I don’t want to stain the beautiful checker pattern on the upholstery.
My updates have been slow, but I have been steadily trying to chip off progress with this rebuild. Some Jerry Springer-grade drama within the extended family recently slowed down progress. Now that we have our lives back, I’ve got high hopes to get this engine back in the car by the end of the summer.
[Photos copyright 2016 Alan Cesar | Hooniverse]

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  1. kastein Avatar

    Oh dear. I should probably order some of those, shouldn’t I?
    Which timing chain guide did you go with, blue or white? It took me a while to figure out that one is specified for new chains and the other is for old used chains, and compensates for their stretch. BTW, I’m pretty sure the brand new one I paid over $100 for is 25% of the worlds supply.
    It’s not easy being a Justy enthusiast, but at least we get to joke about cornering the market on critical maintenance components.

    1. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      I don’t know what the color difference is? All the ones I saw were marked (I think) 6.5mm or 7mm. Can’t remember off the top of my head which one I bought.

  2. ramLlama Avatar

    Wow, your car was sold within a few weeks of my birthday! And my parents’ Subaru died (for good) while they were taking me home from the hospital. Cute coincidence.
    Having parts go out of production like that makes me sad. I know no company is obligated to make parts forever (and I wouldn’t want them to be), but it’s always sad when something clearly hits EOL.

  3. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    It’s so cool that you’re doing the project right. I always really liked those Justys.

  4. mdharrell Avatar

    “There’s only 24 of these left in the world. It’ll be four bucks for a pair.”
    Having been in similar situations, I recommend buying more of them ASAP. With that quantity, go ahead a leave a few for others, but keep in mind everyone who might be interested is also at the mercy of these becoming “discontinued” before the count actually reaches zero anyway. Particularly at that price, get at least enough for a couple more rebuilds.

    1. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      Don’t know how many more times I’m willing to rebuild this engine. Once is probably enough.

  5. karonetwentyc Avatar

    Back in 2011, I had a 1986 Brat that had developed some power delivery issues. After working out that the problem was a shot vacuum advance unit on the distributor, I started the process of tracking one down.
    Neither the local auto parts stores nor usual online sources had any available individually – but a recurring theme was that they were obtainable if I wanted to purchase a completely new distributor for somewhere in the region of $400. Having no interest in doing so, I went to Plan C: calling dealers.
    It took three or four calls before I got one whose parts manager would actually deign to look up the part in the computer rather than simply telling me, “we don’t carry parts for anything over 20 years old.” Helpfully, this yielded the information that the only unit that may be left in stock anywhere in North America was possibly at a dealer in New Jersey. A quick call to them to verify that the part was on the shelf, and it was on its way to me.
    Installing it was an odd feeling: knowing that I was holding the last of its kind in my hand really drove home how much one of my prior default I-just-need-a-car choices had turned into something that now needed care and handling appropriate to its age.

    1. Texlenin Avatar

      Similar issue with Bessie the Wonder Z; Nissan gas tanks, in the day, had a non-replaceable
      paper filter inside the tank. The years of bad gas and immobility and begun to break it down, causing manifold (auto joke!) stoppages.
      A call to ol buddy Steve, club liasonparts manager with Courtesy Nissan in Richardson netted
      me with gales of laughter, finally subsiding to off-kilter chuckles.
      “There’s exactly one, and only one, at the main depot in San Diego. Ya want it?
      Sure! How much with shipping?
      $893.00 plus expedite-say an even Grand, with Club Discount?”
      )Sound of phone, and my ass, hitting the floor(
      That part apparently was Banquo’s Ghost to the San Diego warehouse;
      it’d been there since 1980.
      I filled my tank with water and cut it open the next weekend.

  6. Alff Avatar

    You should corner the market.

  7. outback_ute Avatar

    I needed a windscreen for my Hillman Imp, the main source had half a dozen so I checked with a couple of other owners and said send me 4! To amortise the shipping cost which would be the same anyway. Used one, a mate has a spare and another guy used one, I have one spare left. Who knows when they will do another batch!

    1. kastein Avatar

      It sounds like you should saran wrap it one side at a time and make male and female plug molds for it out of something, probably expanding foam or plaster, done on a stiff wooden crate frame. Make sure to mark a cut line (sharpie should be fine for now) all the way around its perimeter. That way when they have run out, you can call up a custom glass shop and have a small production run done.

      1. outback_ute Avatar

        These ones were made by a company in Brisbane, who can do more they just need a sufficient sized order.

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