The SVX was a leap too far for Subaru. But during the great “Bubble Era” in Japan, when they were going to take over the world, creating something as ambitious as the SVX was really not surprising.
I remember thinking how exotic these seemed upon introduction. What baffled me about this car was that it replaced the affordable and arguably desirable XT couple with something far out of reach for most. The XT had one of the lowest drag coefficients in the world at the time and an eye-poppingly modern interior. It seemed like you were getting a lot of “future” for the money. The SVX? Not so much.
Yep, I liked the XT better too. This seemed like a step back or a start in a new direction. I never got to drive an XT6 but I enjoyed the XT turbo 4 that I borrowed for a month once.
My 1992 SVX LS-L, identical to the car that Road & Track tested, served me admirably, over the 85,000 miles that I owned it, other than the failure of the automatic transmission, an often cited problem. That SVX and my Datsun 240-Z were not the most reliable cars that I’ve owned, but nonetheless my favorite cars. I’d buy another SVX if parts were easily obtained, but, alas, they are not. If Subaru offered a modern SVX, I’d buy it without hesitation.
Aside from anything else, a lack of a manual transmission availability did not help. I always liked the look, but then I dig vintage French cars too.
A nice looking car that I don’t ever remember seeing, even in the state with the highest Subaru sales back then. I still see an XT once or twice a year in or around Denver but don’t ever remember seeing an SVX.
Too bad. It’s a cool car.
Keep your eye out, I seem to find one in each of the local junkyards about every six months, so they are trickling in from somewhere in the area!
That’s probably the best place to look. I think I’ve seen a grand total of one of these actually on the road in the past year.
I’ve seen several over the last year here in Carlisle, PA, but since it’s a car show town people tend to bring their interesting cars even to go see other interesting cars.
That said, there is an abandoned car dealership, dare I call it a Curbside Graveyard, nearby with some really interesting cars just getting old. They occasionally get moved so the grass stays under control, though God only knows who moves them. One of them is a SVX. I have lusted after that car, because if I screw it up it was probably dead anyway, but if I fix it and manual swap it it’s all mine.
One of these days I’ll get pictures. You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff they have there.
I almost bought one of these as a 10-15 year old used car. I really dug it. My wife not so much and we ended up with a 1996 Mustang GT instead. Probably dodged a bullet with the fragile automatic transmission in these.
I most likely read this article when it was first printed as I had an R&T subscription back in those days. How perceptions change: “…and ‘quickly’ describes how the SVX responds to heavy throttle inputs: 60 mph arrives in 7.3 seconds…” Today, that would be dead-dog slow. I think the current WRX STI gets there in under 5 seconds. Sheesh, even my lowly Scion xD (well, if it were equipped with a manual) would only be about a second slower than the old SVX. Not that I’ve ever really cared about those sorts of things, but R&T’s enthusiasm for the performance of this unusual car back then is sort of charming. Whether or not this was a good car at the time is debatable, but it was undeniably interesting, then and now. I miss the days when the Japanese had the resources to take risks like this. Even if they didn’t pan out.
I park behind one daily. It looks like an old dog. The styling isn’t shocking anymore. Most folks around here don’t even know that it is a unique ride.
The interior looks like it has held up pretty well, considering how it had been baked under that glass canopy for the past twenty five years.
Had the SVX being badged as Acura or Lexus instead of Subaru, things would have been different…
Only Subaru that ever appealed to me. I remember seeing these quite a bit as a kid on our annual trips to Denver, I almost never spotted SVXs in Chicago so it was exciting, my Dad thought they were cheesy and rolled his eyes whenever I wanted to look at one in a parking lot I spotted in the distance rather than continue our walk along the trails. I love the greenhouse, no fake panes of black plastic faux glass to give it that shape like you get on various models today, that’s a real deal greenhouse design you can actually see out of. I never realized until recently how much I took 90s car design for granted, it really was the last era anything daring happened that wasn’t just a retro throwback or pointless flame surfacing with LED eyebrows around the headlamps to catch attention. I also liked that this was a sporty Subaru that didn’t look like a souped up penalty box sedan with a giant wing on the trunklid.
One day in 2000 I test drove a few cars as my 90 Sunbird had just blown its head gasket. Within about 6 hours I drove the following:
1996 Ford Probe GT
1998 Subaru Legacy GT
1997 Honda Civic DX (hatch)
1998 Nissan 240SX SE
1994 Subaru SVX
I wound up getting handed down my step mom’s 1990 Nissan Maxima SE. But I wish I could have saved them all.
I had never seen an SVX in the flesh before that test drive. I was absolutely struck by it and I fell completely in love. Driving it was incredibly ordinary, but looking at it was plenty exciting. We probably both dodged a bullet as it would have grenaded the transmission on me and I would have probably done some questionable, low budget “mods” to it which would have ruined it.
Not a bad car…but between the weird styling, lack of manual shift, high price, and fragile transmission, it was doomed from the start.
A 50 buck tranny cooler has taken my ’92 SVX from the 70K on it when bought it 20 years ago, to the 160+K today without a hiccup. The current tranny was a replacement for the original that melted at around 60K. The car’s a dream cruiser, & if the manhood’s dwindled by forced to accept a PNRD set-up, buy a 60’s Beetle to play with.
CC effect in full force, I saw one today and had a chat with the owner, a local character. She has had better than 20 Subarus.
I still think this is a remarkably attractive design but I could never get past the auto trans only. And not robust enough to boot. A real shame. I know there are a few die hards out there that did what the factory couldn’t/wouldn’t but I can’t imagine it’s easy. Is the trans bolt pattern even the same as the 4 cylinder?
Soy de Uruguay un viejo amigo tiene 2 uno bordo y otro negro. Hace años que estoy tratando de convencerlo que me venda uno.
Lamentable mente están guardados hace mucho tiempo.
I could never figure out what Subaru was doing with the XT6 and SVX. I thought the XT6 was ugly as hell, but it was at least priced so it was affordable. The SVX, OTOH, was quite good looking, even with the jet-fighter gimmicks. The only problem was it was too expensive.
So, why couldn’t Subaru have built an SVX with an XT6 drivetrain that was priced accordingly? That would have been a winner.
+1 to all of that!
I knew of three of these in the rural area northwest of Richmond (Ashlnd-Bumpass-Montpelier), and every ones of them has had a transmission replaced. That was definitely the Achilles Heel of these cars, and it still floors me that Subaru couldn’t come up with a manual that handled that engine.
Randall Rothenberg, Where the Suckers Moon, covers the advertising and marketing of the SVX, but also includes a history of the Fuji-Nakajima-Bricklin-Subaru company that, for me, explains a lot about how Subaru’s career unfolded in the USA. Subaru was clueless about marketing here back in the day, and remained so, in my opinion, until they began receiving guidance from Toyota around 15 years ago.
I’m amused to be reading lately how some auto writers seem to think that “shooting brake” is some kind of revolutionary idea. Of course Subaru did not invent it, but they did have their individual take on the concept in my favorite SVX, the Amadeus.
The SVX and preceding XT are some of the weirdest Japanese cars of their era and are the basis for saying Subaru is the Japanese Citroen.
I was looking to see whether someone would say that!
Their handling is somewhat French-style too. Relatively soft, feels like it’s understeering but it’s not.
I have to say that I really think it was the insane window treatment that doomed the the SVX. What were they thinking???
Clearly not the same people who figured out the dog thing, that I believe has proven quite successful.
Subaru: Great except for that
“one issue” since forever.
(Meant to post this back when but forgot)
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