The Justy was sort of the replacement for the Neon, in that we had to fully insure the Neon, and it was too expensive to justify paying for that, once State Farm found all my speeding tickets. While the Justy lacked amenities like A/C or even a simple tape deck, it did have a 3-cylinder engine with a balance shaft and 3 valves/cylinder, plus push-button 4WD for extra fun during snow driving. I was rather surprised during the test drive to see how quickly it revs towards redline and to hear how quiet the engine was at high rpm. Of course, compared to the Neon's, most engines are really quiet.
I bought the Justy on July 21, 1996, and it never really got
to go very far. I managed to take it on a couple of longish trips,
plus I enjoyed a full winter of 4WD in the snow on the streets
and highways of Detroit. It behaved extremely well on snow, and
was truly one of the best cars on the road during snow, so long
as the other cars didn't ram into it. (When you drive a B-class
car, you tend to hope no one runs into you.)
The one real problem I had with the Justy is that I had to buy it a new right axle shaft and hub assembly, which cost a hefty $700 with labor. Plus a new alternator for another $250 or so. This of course taught me a lesson about having used cars thoroughly checked by a professional before buying them anywhere near list price. Not much later, I got the left axle replaced, plus a new-used driveshaft installed, as the old one had too much free play in it. A few other minor parts were also replaced, including two rubber gaskets that had outlived their usefulness and the rear wiper motor, which was weak.
I drove the Justy at the 1997 Firecracker Solo at the Selfridge air base on July 20th, but frankly it was an uninspiring ride. I probably could have squeezed another second out of it, which would have put me squarely in the still-uncompetitive range of H-stock cars. With sticky tires, it might almost have been competitive, but then it might well just have rolled over. (The regional Solo II director was unhappy that the Justy showed up at all, and only let it run "with reservations." Like it would have rolled over with street tires, for chrissakes. It's no Mercedes A-Class, after all.)
I ended up selling the Justy in December, 1997, in preparation for my new job at Chrysler's Trenton Engine Plant. Figured driving a Japanese car down there would just get it all keyed up. The $1300 I got for it helped me through the 3 unpaid weeks I took off between jobs.
I'm not too sad I sold the Justy, but I must say that I was
strangely comfortable in that car. The engine note was really
soothing, the heat worked perfectly, and somehow the seat positioning
and legroom were ideal for me, so I always felt right
in that car. And of course I'll miss the 4WD. But it taught me
that 4WD is a damn good thing to have in a car, so eventually
I'll have another one. Maybe an Audi Quattro of some sort, or
a Subaru Impreza... We note I will not buy any truck,
which eliminates every domestic offering and more. And a used
4WD Tempo is not acceptable, no.