May 04, 2023

For sale: Whidbey’s fabled ‘Pork Chop Express’ gets great smileage

Asking price is $500 for the 1991 Subaru Justy, a three-cylinder econobox with 65K miles and a transmission as rare as hen's teeth.

For $500, this pink-and-purple 1991 Subaru Justy hatchback with three-cylinder unicorn power and "Pork Chop Express" on the side can be yours.

If you dare.

"Great first car for that kid that almost made the grades, extended clown families, adventurers seeking a new challenge," said seller Dave Erickson, a longtime Whidbey Island resident who goes by "Bronco."

The car is nicknamed "Porky."

"It's a little bean can," he said. "There are only 65,000 original miles on this car.

The price is a steal or a nightmare, depending on how you look at it.

"Come on, you can't get anything for $500 that runs and drives with this much smile-per-mile power," Erickson said.

That's for sure.

Features include a peace sign on the roof, pink-trimmed seat covers and a unicorn air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror.

Sold as-is, most definitely.

I witnessed Porky in action when I met up with Erickson at Maxwelton Beach. The car didn't scare away the seagulls, who were more attracted to Erickson's orange Hawaiian shirt and yellow smiley cap. Like I’m one to talk. My outfit matched the funky color mix of the econobox.

He opened the hood and put his flip-flopped foot on the motor.

"The engine is as big as your shoe," he said.

It started right up and rattled down the road.

And if for some reason it doesn't start?

"You could get four high school football players to carry it," he said.

Erickson listed the Subaru, or "Super-Roo" as he calls it, on Drewslist, the Whidbey version of Craigslist, but with that island vibe and honesty.

The electronic CVT automatic transmission is "as rare as hen's teeth and still working (with quirks)," he wrote. "This Oompa Loompa hauler needs a mechanically minded owner. … Interstate travel is ill advised. Porky prefers long drives on the island, not stop-and-go traffic in the city."

Weather or not, here comes Porky.

"I tried to find a snow covered hill that would stop this little pig during our last snowstorm. It actually climbed everything we could find, snow and ice were not an issue," Erickson wrote.

"Everything works (sort of). There are a few quirks. The turn signals indicate opposite direction on dash, but intended direction on flashers. Also, turn signals cause speedo and temp gauge to operate erratically."

Any calls on this gem?


"More say, ‘I don't want to buy your car but I love your ad,’" he said.

He tried to get me to buy Porky for the sake of journalism.

"It would be a better story if you bought it and drove it to The Herald as a commuter chop," he said.

Sorry, I mostly work from home.

"It's lovely yard art," he said. "Mobile yard art. It's art with a smile."

That unicorn power is mpg magic or optical illusion.

"I put 4 gallons in and the fuel tank went to full," he said.

Porky has been on the island for many years. Other than mechanical wizardry, Erickson hasn't done much since he acquired it two years ago.

"It had this giant train horn mounted in the trunk, so this tiny car would be driving down the road and it scared the pants off of people," Erickson said. "I had to take that out."

The car was for his son, then 16.

"It was a gag initially," his wife, Elly, said. "He wanted it. He has driven it a few times."

Mostly, though, it has been yard art.

Repair parts for the Justy are hard to get, said Tom Hoag, manager of the Smart Service car repair shop in Mukilteo.

"It was a fun little easy car to drive," he said.

But at a cost.

"It took a lot of maintenance," Hoag said. "They’ve gone the way of the dodo bird."

Erickson, 53, has tinkered with Subarus for years. He is newly retired from South County Fire on the mainland.

"I spent 30 years resuscitating people in the fire department," he said. "Now I resuscitate Subarus."


"It's a much less stressful way to spend the day," Erickson said. "My hobby is just making sure essential workers on the island, waiters or waitresses, or retirees get good reliable cars. It's keeping my hands busy so I don't do more nefarious things."

As much as he's ready to get Porky out of his yard, he is screening potential candidates to rehome this fabled wonder.

"Someone said, ‘It would be a good first car for my daughter,’ and I said, ‘No, it has to be someone who can turn a wrench,’" he said.

Pork Chop Express is the name of the 1985 Freightliner FLC-120 truck driven by Jack Burton, played by Kurt Russell, in the 1986 film "Big Trouble in Little China."

Amazon sells stickers and T-shirts that say "Pork Chop Express." A sticker comes with the car.

Maybe Erickson will throw in his smiley face cap. Contact him at [email protected].

Dave "Bronco" Erickson stands next to the pink-and-purple 1991 Subaru Justy hatchback "Pork Chop Express" car that he is seeking to re-home for $500. The car nicknamed "Porky" has been on Whidbey Island for years, often as yard art. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)