The Subaru SVX – may it rest in peace, was one of those cars that entered a gun fight with a pocket knife. The SVX showed up on our shores in 1992 amidst the slugfest of sports cars which included the likes of the Acura NSX, Toyota Supra, Nissan Z, and Mitsubishi 3000GT. The SVX on paper, for the most part, was up to the task but it had a few weaknesses that brought its early demise. Cars like the NSX and Nissan Z had been around for several years already, decades if you include the Z and Supra. Each one had varying levels of performance and had established names for themselves. The SVX quite literally came strolling down the catwalk after the audience had turned to leave the venue. Production ran from 1992 to 1997 with an anemic 640 units in its final year.
A major factor in the SVX’s short lifespan was the recession of the mid 90′s, it was responsible for the demise of the Supra and Z as well as their prices began creeping up on much higher level cars like the Chevrolet Corvette. Subaru wasn’t known for producing sports cars either. Many people wouldn’t have taken the sleek looking SVX for a Subaru in the first place, which is a shame since many were probably quite intrigued with what the car was.
Despite being overmatched in its competition and showing up during an unfortunate economic slip, the SVX was still a stellar car. Powered by the same 3.3L H6 that was found in the Legacy, the SVX churned out a stout 231 horsepower. Being a Subaru, it was also equipped with all-wheel-drive. Unfortunately for Save the Manuals badge wearers, the SVX was only offered with an automatic because they didn’t have a standard transmission at the time that could handle the power. Ironically enough, the SVX is notorious for blowing out transmissions.
Had the SVX showed up with the rest of the crew in the lat 80′s with the proper equipment to transmit the power it’s fate may not have been so melodramatic, especially considering who designed the car in the first place. Giorgetto Giugiaro, the legendary designer that put cars like the DeLorean and Lotus Elise on the road also designed the SVX. His taste is evident in the unique window design that can be found in the DeLorean and Lamborghini Countach, it was essentially a window within a window.
Finding a clean preowned SVX is like finding a needle in a haystack these days. Too many have been the victims of neglect and too many wide open throttle launches – tempting with AWD. Most will say that their transmissions were recently rebuilt… be wary. I was lucky enough to take a rare jewel out recently. This clean one owner has found its way onto a lot that specializes in Subaru’s. It’s a one owner and while not perfect is in very good condition. The owner is now 100 years old, has lost his sight and thus ability to enjoy is AWD drive sportster. It’s a day that none of us look forward to. With 80,000 miles on the clock the two-tone silver and black Giugiaro creation has been meticulously maintained with records to prove it. The seats are free of tears and paint is in very good condition as well. Handling is sharp and responsive and acceleration is immediate, thanks to the AWD.
This little beauty is still for sale in the greater Seattle area if you’re interested but be warned, the SVX is not for the faint of heart in the maintenance arena. Too many hard launches and you’ll be hunting for a tranny and if you happen to catch a rock chip in the window, get it filled as soon as possible. Because of the limited numbers, a windshield can run you about $1000. The SVX is a rare bird and a beautiful one at that. Lets hope a few more clean examples can find their way into caring and capable hands.