First generation (KJ) | 1983 - 1993

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The first generation of the Libero (KJ) was introduced in 1983. It was a type of vehicle Subaru had never made before.

The Libero was based on the Sambar, Subaru's kei-car van. The modifications to the Sambar were not minor. In fact, Subaru changed the front end quite a bit, which increased legroom. The Sambar's 544cc engine was replaced by the 1-litre three-cylinder from the then fairly new Justy. Furthermore, the Libero was always equipped with the raised roof, so that even tall people would not bump their heads. Later 4WD was added to the list, mated to the 1.2L Justy engine.


Table of contents

What makes the Libero unique?

1. Small outside, spacious inside
The Libero is as long, and even smaller, than a Toyota Yaris. However a Libero is way more spacious than a Yaris, thanks to its high roof and boxy shape.

Besides that, with a total length of 3.50m, you can transport 6 people! There are not a lot of vans, let alone cars, that can do that just like the Libero.

2. Versatility
The Libero owes its practicality to the large sliding doors and the adjustable seats. This means that the Libero can be used in almost any situation.

Whether you have to travel with 6 people, help a friend out with a move, move a few bicycles, shelter for the rain and have a lunch while doing so or want to sleep in the bus, with the Libero it's all possible.

3. Sun-sunroof: the panoramic roof (option)
The panoramic roof installed on the Libero consists of two parts. The middle section slides open over a distance of 705 millimeters. This means that there's some nice ventilation during Dutch summers with temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius.
The front part of the roof is a pop-up roof. If you open it together with the sliding roof, you will not be bothered by wind noise while driving. You can also use it separately from the sunroof, thanks to the shape you will hear virtually no wind noise. This is ideal for quick ventilation of the interior without having to turn the blower up or open the side windows.

Subaru did not call this combination ‘sun-sunroof’for nothing. This is a wordplay that comes from the Japanese word 'sansan'. 'Sansan' is pronounced as 'sunsun' in English, and means something like 'shine bright'. So sun-sunroof means something like: 'a roof where the light shines through brightly'. Which is actually quite a good description.

You could also interpret sun-sunroof as a double sunroof, as you got one in the front and one in the middle.


engine & four-wheel drive

The engine

The only engine Subaru made availbe for the 2nd generation Libero was the EF12: a 1.2L three cylinder with multi point injection.

This little engine delivers 54,4 HP at 6000 rpm. The maximum torque peaks at 3000 rpm with 96 Nm. This pretty high torque is achieved by a high compression ratio of 9,1:1. This was quite an achievement back in the day, only Subaru's turbocharged boxers also had this high compression ratio.

The engine in my van turned out to have an oil pressure problem after purchase. For more information about how this was solved, click on the button below.

Four-wheel drive

As a Subaru, four-wheel drive could of course not be missing. That's why Subaru designed a 4WD system for the Libero, indeed not a full-time system, but a part-time four-wheel drive system

This means that all four wheels are not continuously driven, which is the case with an AWD system. The rear wheels of the Libero are always driven. Only when you press a red 4WD button the front wheels are coupled to the rear axle to engage four-wheel drive.

The Libero's 4WD system is designed to make driving in snow, slippery conditions and similar conditions easier. It is not designed for continuous use on dry asphalt, that can even break the gearbox.

For a detailed explanation of the technology and its limitations, click on the orange button.