Junkyard Gem: 1994 Subaru SVX

Murilee Martin


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Before Subaru became best-known in North America for outdoorsy all-wheel-drive machinery (but after it was best-known for extreme cheapness), we got some wild-looking Subarus with strong overtones of science fiction over here. First, the wedge-shaped XT, XT Turbo, and XT6 arrived during the mid-1980s through early 1990s, with their video-game-style digital instrument panels and fighter-jet-joystick gearshifts. Starting in the 1992 model year, we saw the XT's replacement: the joyously weird SVX. The SVX cost plenty, especially when viewed against the backdrop of the super-cheap Subarus of the past, and not many were sold. Still, Coloradans love old Subarus, and I manage to find discarded SVXs here every now and then. Here's a screaming red '96, found in a self-service yard about 50 miles from Cheyenne.

This was the first six-cylinder engine design put into production by Subaru and was essentially the Legacy's boxer four-banger with two extra cylinders. With 230 horsepower, the SVX was reasonably quick for its day.

Unfortunately, Subaru didn't have a manual transmission that could handle the six's power, so all SVXs came with four-speed automatics. And, as it turned out, even that transmission didn't fare so well; transmission failures doom more of these cars than any other cause. You can swap in the manual out of a WRX if you have patience and money, and that's what some SVX owners have done in recent years.

This one nearly reached 200,000 miles and the interior looks nice, so it was cared for during its life.

Now this looks futuristic. 

List price for this car started at $29,995, or about $49,800 today. The cheapest Mitsubishi 3000GT cost $30,690 in 1996, and it had just 218 horsepower and front-wheel-drive, so the cooler-looking and quicker SVX seemed like the better deal.

In its homeland, it was known as the Alcyone SVX.

If you jump to 5:10 in this dealer-promotional video for the SVX, you'll see the street corner in Los Angeles where the irradiated corpse of J. Frank Parnell got incinerated in the film Repo Man.