In the early 1990s, Subaru unleashed a car it would never introduce today. It was expensive and heavy, didn’t come with a manual transmission and performed only reasonably well.
But oh man, was it awesome.
The Subaru SVX was sold during a time when the Nissan 300ZX and Mitsubishi 3000GT jockeyed for position in the entry-level sports coupe market. It was also a time of financial hardship in the United States, which made the SVX a tough sell.
Today, it’s a car you should buy immediately if you can find one.
With leather, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, speed-sensing wipers and more, buyers would have been hard-pressed to find as much luxury in a Lexus at the time. In addition to the comfort, the SVX brought a valiant effort at performance to the table.
Featuring all-wheel drive (but be careful, because later models offered front-wheel drive), a 3.3-liter, 6-cylinder Boxer engine with 231 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque, this car appears to have had everything.
It lacked, however, in two important ways. One was purely bad luck; the other was just bad planning.
The SVX was introduced during a tough economic climate in the United States and was only sold here between 1991 and 1997. With pricing that reached close to $28,000 for top trims, fewer than 5,000 were sold per year.
Subaru’s mistake was the lack of a manual transmission. With the only option being a 4-speed automatic, buyers had to look elsewhere for the privilege of rowing their own gears.
While the car failed in the ’90s, there’s no reason it can’t succeed now. This is the car that would ultimately lead to the WRX, a smashing success by any measure. In addition, used copies of the SVX go for prices almost anyone can afford simply by emptying the change from their cupholders.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say the SVX is a classic, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see values start to appreciate as used shoppers rediscover this hidden treasure.
Which would you choose: a Nissan 300ZX, Mitsubishi 3000GT or Subaru SVX?