I tried so many times to get a video of the first time I started my Justy after the engine rebuild.
“Alright, here we go!”
Not quite. Turns out the wiper blades are on. Remember how you put the oil pressure gauge on the windshield?
“All better. Now I can fire this up.”
Nope. What’s that splashing sound? Oh. Forgot the fuel lines. There’s gas on the floor, moron.
“OK, let’s do this.”
False. You didn’t reconnect the spark plug wires after you checked the compression.
“For real this time.”
Not even close. Removed the ignition fuse when cranking it to build oil pressure.
It seemed impossible. My garage held a comedy of errors.
But, well, I finally did it. There’s no radiator in place when I took this video, so I couldn’t leave it running, but it was a relief to hear it start up. I had been messing with it for 1.5 hours on that night alone, after all the hangups mentioned above. The final thing holding me back was that I had spark plug wires 1 and 3 swapped. I figured the rest of all that out after I took it to a muffler shop.
I flat-towed it down side streets behind my friend’s Cruze to my muffler guy. I needed additional changes made to the modified motorcycle header so it would clear the sway bar and subframe, and I needed an oxygen sensor bung welded in. I also asked nicely if he would just stick a glasspack muffler under there and route the exhaust to dump just ahead of the rear wheel. I think he used the shortest one in the world.
Then I flat-towed it home and installed the cooling system along with everything else I needed to make it driveable. The startup video above was taken after the muffler shop adventure. There’s a little more engine audio further down this post, and there will be more later on. There aren’t enough Justy videos on the Internet. But I have Justy few things to show you first.
Fun fact: The Justy has no center differential. Which means that all I need to do to make this thing rear-wheel drive is take out the front axles and put axle stubs in the front hubs to hold the bearings together. It’s trivial, really. It just so happens I have a spare set of front axles. Hmmmm.
Fun fact: There was no 1-liter Justy sold here. Us ‘murricans only got the big-block 1189cc engine.
Fun fact: Pulling the inside door handles on the Justy’s rear doors also flaps the outside handles.
I’m hoping to get in to a dyno sometime in the near future. While I have no idea how much power this thing will make, this is my figure to beat. I suspect the example above is totally stock, and it has a carburetor. Mine, with fuel injection, milled and ported head, and exhaust header, should make a fair bit more. We’ll find out exactly how much after the engine is broken in. The factory figure is 73 horses at the crank. Who thinks I can top 60 at the wheels on a 2-wheel dyno?
Fun fact: You can have the sound of a flat-six with just half the cylinders. Once it’s fully broken in, I’ll take some video where you can hear the thing rev all the way out at full throttle.
(This video was taken at part-throttle. Does it actually sound like a Porsche? You decide.)
The sound is surprisingly sedate at idle and low revs, but it’s happiest above 3,000 rpm. It makes a helluva racket keeping up with traffic.
It is certainly not fast. I wonder what people think when they see me wearing a purple dress shirt and purple tie, commuting to work in a 25-year-old econoturd. For you wheel-and-tire nerds: these are 13×8-inch Diamond Racing Wheels with 225/45R13 Toyo Proxes R888. Why? Long story.
This car is a riot to drive. It still needs work—the new oil pan gasket is no good, the headlights are aimed 5 feet ahead of the car, the front skid plate needs to be attached, and the front left strut mount still needs replacing because it wanders a foot in either direction when that tire hits a change in pavement. But it’s getting a proper shakedown, and my 2-year-old approves of riding in it. Sometimes.
“I like your old car, papa. It’s crazy.”
“I don’t like your old car, papa. It’s too crazy.”
I understand, little lady. It is loud. And once it’s broken in, I’ll be revving it out all. the. time.
[Photos copyright Alan Cesar | Hooniverse 2017]