Subaru Made A Huge Mistake With The SVX
Subaru messed up with the Subaru SVX. And they know they messed up because Subaru had too discontinued the SVX in 1996. Subaru’s mistake was not putting a proper manual transmission in their 90s halo sports car. Sales reflected people’s lack of love for the automatic transmission because only 14,000 Subaru SVX’s were built from 1991-1996. Subaru’s four-speed auto that came in the SVX was notorious for not lasting past 100,000. Just about every transmission had to be rebuilt due to overheating issues.
It’s a shame because Subaru put a serious amount of time and effort behind the Subaru SVX. Subaru went to an Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro for the design. And design he did. My goodness. I absolutely love the look of the SVX. The expansive windows, long body, long front lights, rear wing and infamous split windows make it a legendary design. The design element of the split windows were typically seen in Lamborghini’s and other exotics of the time.
The Italian design wasn’t Subaru’s only trick. Subaru shoehorned a 3.3-liter flat-six boxer engine in the front – just like your favorite Porsche 911 but backwards. That flat-six produced big power for 1991, making 231 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque. All of that horsepower was the reason that it came with a four-speed automatic. At the time of development Subaru didn’t have a manual transmission that could handle all of that power.
The Subaru SVX also had all-wheel-drive on some models (later on front-wheel drive was an option to drive down price). That’s right – a Porsche engine, Italian design and all-wheel-drive in one great package. But you can’t have all that greatness without comprimise. And the comprimise came with price. At $30,000 this was sticker shock for most Subaru buyers. Most people couldn’t wrap their head around spending that much on a Subaru in the 90s. That is shocking because now Subaru buyers drop $40,000 consistently for the WRX STI.
Why The Subaru SVX Won’t Be A Future Classic
Some might say the SVX had Porsche engineering with Jaguar refinement. But why can you still buy one on Craigslist for $2,000 and a RX-7 of the same years is ten times the price? It’s that damn automatic transmission breaking all the time. The SVX weighed 3,600 pounds and Subaru didn’t equip it with proper brakes to handle the weight. So the brakes would tend to warp under heavy use. It could also be the styling, it was never loved by enthusiasts (besides me and my Dad).
But I can look past all of those failures and see the beauty in the SVX. It’s a car that Subaru will never build again. It’s a car that you take to Cars and Coffee and be the only one there. And it’s a car I hope to one day own.