Greetings, Motor Authority readers! Murilee Martin is in the house, in order to share the joy that comes with the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™ with each and every one of you. Now, before you can step up to such fine MMLB™ products as the Fission Ready Neptunium-237 Billet Wheels (available for any bolt pattern, provided it's a Renault three-lugger) or the Triangular Purple Drank cup holder insert (fits triangular cough-syrup bottles and keeps that cup-o-lean from dumping all over your metalflake Naugahyde interior), you need to slide behind the wheel of a car that's inherently geeky and/or terrible, yet somehow cool in spite of itself.
Yes, a guilty pleasure car, as we call it around these parts; you don't really want to admit you want one, yet you find yourself entering its name in the Craigslist search field and hoping for a deal so cheap that you'll have an excuse for buying it.
For me, the Subaru Justy 4WD is such a car. These days, we all know that Subarus are solid, reliable machines— hell, I have an Outback myself, as required by unwritten Denver law— but such has not always been the case. Back in the late 1980s, Subarus were much flakier, considered reliable only when compared with the likes of the Isuzu I-Mark.
Weird people drove Subarus, and the weirdest of them chose the Justy, a truly miserable three-cylinder subcompact with styling that looked something like a car sketched on the back of a 12-pack box by a drunk who'd just heard a verbal description of the Simca 1204. 66 horsepower, super-cheapo interior, and— in many cases— saddled with a continuously-variable transmission that turned gasoline into engine noise. And yet... and yet, Subaru saw fit to make a four-wheel-drive version of the Justy. Really!
And this is why I want one. I'm looking for a beater four-wheel-drive winter car to drive in my newly adopted state of Colorado (having moved here from snow-free Northern California last summer), and I've already considered the AMC Eagle, the Mazda 323 GTX, the IHC Scout, and even the BMW 325iX. Now I've become fixated on a Justy 4WD, because it's so terrible-yet-wonderful, with that answer-to-a-question-nobody-was-asking absurdity that's so entertaining when it comes from a time that's comfortably in the past. I must have one!
Right now, the only thing I can find online is this pair of project Justys in Pittsburgh, which is too far away, and the 4WD one has the dreaded CVT. Still, I'll keep looking... until the next Guilty Pleasure comes along.