By on May 3, 2012

Living in Colorado, I find lots of junked Subarus. Today’s Junkyard Find, however, is the first Subaru SVX I’ve seen at The Crusher’s doorstep.
The SVX is one of those cars whose Internet Car Expert Perceived Value (ICEPV) tends to be far, far higher than its Motivated Seller Trying To Get Rid Of This Heap Value (MSTTGROTHV). You can find other cars with very high ICEPV-to-MSTTGROTHV ratios (e.g., Porsche 944, Dodge Omni GLHS, any 1960s Detroit station wagon), but none inspires quite the passion that you see when you start talking about the SVX. For example, the Living Waters Church of Subaru SVX that competed (if that’s the word) in several 24 Hours of LeMons races a few years back. When the online car forums caught word that an SVX qualified for the LeMons $500 budget rule, the bulk of the fevered responses were variations on the “NO WAY can you get an SVX for that cheap!!1!” and “It’s gonna PWN everything else on the track!!1!!” themes. Well, of course you can buy a basket-case SVX for dirt cheap, for the same reason you can buy an ugly BMW L7 for cheap: once they’re less than perfect, the cost of fixing them up is too high. As for dominating the race, the Living Waters SVX ran a total of maybe 25 laps in three races, breaking some difficult-to-fix component every hour or so (and while it was running, the ill-handling Subaru got its doors blown off by Neons and Cavaliers).
Right. So, let’s not hear any anguished Internet Car Expert talk about this “$10,000 car” ending up in the junkyard. Nobody was willing to pay just-above-scrap-price for it at auction, and so now it’s going to get picked over by junkyard buzzards and then crushed like it’s a Ford Contour with fire damage.
Of course, a 24-valve EG33 Subaru engine isn’t going to last long in a self-service junkyard; someone grabbed the long block right away.

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34 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1995 Subaru SVX...”


  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    These are the Mother Ship of all things Subarubian. They are the mythical machines with unearthly powers L. Ron Hubbard wrote about in one of his comic books.

    “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!”

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Windows-within-windows. Bad idea all around, but the fact that it had openable rear quarters made it kinda practical. That’s the only thing I recall about these, otherwise, forget about it.

    They were unique in their own way, but only ever saw one or two on the road.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I still see these things on occasion, but even in Seattle, they aren’t in abundance.

    This one looks to be in halfway decent shape, the passenger mirror has been neatly folded in even so I wonder if it broke something expensive and the owner decided it was time.

    Looks to be a lower level model too as the factory (I’m assuming ) head unit looks to be the base unit and cassette only as there is a blanking plate for optional upgrades below it.

    Nice find though.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    One of the most freakish Subaru designed cars of all time, and that’s saying a lot. Thing about the SVX is that it did have its faults, mainly an overworked, under-cooled automatic transmission. It could have also have used a bigger set of binders as this was a pretty heavy grand touring car.

    Alas, such a fix is easily available on the internet. Pull a 5 speed manual gearbox out of a WRX and a big brake kit and the car has most of its problems resolved.

    I contemplated getting one a few years back and doing the manual swap, but I got wrapped up in two other project cars that I never completed.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    EDIT: What is up with your servers? You’d think a company as big as Vertical Scope could afford some servers that don’t bonk out all the time.

    Your cousins over at pirate4x4.com enjoy somewhat more reliable servers than TTAC does. Argh.

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      Amen, thats the truth. I have an old PIII, with one of those PCI networks cards that has a BNC connection that would function as a better web-server that whatever they have now.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Not a bad subject for a future Vellum Venom piece…

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Very nice, Murilee. Definitely makes up for yesterday’s snoozer. :-P

    A work acquaintance of mine owned one of these, back in the late nineties. He truly thought his car was the sh1t, almost had a cult-like fixation on it. I thought it was interesting simply because it was quite different from anything out there, but in my opinion it combined radical styling characteristics with other lame, boring ones so I found it to be nothing more than a hodgepodge.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      This was the car that cured my friend’s wife’s Subaru addiction. It was her third one, and by far the worst of the three. The first one, I can’t remember what model it was, ate brakes like popcorn, and when it’s tranny went out, they got rid of it. The second one wasn’t too bad, some minor issues, but it got wrecked. The SVX was a horror show. The windows whistled constantly, you had to put them up and down all the time to stop it, temporarily. Hit a big bump or a bad RR crossing, and it started again. The dealer tried and tried to stop it, but it always came back. Probably because of all the window operations, it had problems with the power window mechanisms too. When the trans went for the second time, it was time for it to go. It got replaced with a Mitsubishi Eclipse until it was stolen, and then it was baby and dog time, and she got a GMC Envoy, which has just about been perfect for 150,000 miles.

  • avatar

    “Living Waters Church of Subaru.”

    LOLOL!!

    That’s the one thing you can say about Subaru…it IS a religion.

    I’ve seen friends and relatives who went for years and would drive nothing else.

    It happened to my wife six years ago when our family inherited a ’92 Legacy wagon…today my wife is on her third (an ’05 Outback) and seems fascinated by most things Subie…she even finds these SVXs kinda attractive. (Talk about damned by faint praise)

    But to me, the windows are a non-starter. Sorry. But I understand the styling as another one of those Subaru quirks that along with that flat four, all wheel drive and brake/fuel lines run up into the body, make a Subaru…a Subaru.

    And as cars like the SVX, Legacy GT and wagon-instead-of-crossover-based Outbacks fade into history – along with their onetime penchant for reliability – they’re gonna become Just Another Car Company with a few hi-po fanboys thanks to one model of WRX STi.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    I seriously wanted one of these at the time. I can’t remember why I didn’t get one — perhaps it was the price and the fact that it was a coupe (I needed something more practical). I got an Infiniti G20 instead.

  • avatar
    Vipul Singh

    The car had 4/5th of a tankfull? Or is something wrong with the picture?

    Reminds me of the old Skoda joke…

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Bought and sold about six of these over the years….

    The first surprise most folks get when driving these things are the seats. Even today it’s hard for me to find any car that offers the comfort, and in the velour interior case, the outstnading plushness of those seats. IMHO this is ithe only thing Subaru should have ever taken from this car and carried forward.

    The window within a window design is also nice for traveling with the window down while it’s raining. You won’t get wet unless the wind blows in an unusual way.

    Two noteworthy ones I had were a savage SVX that I bought for about $1000 and sold on Ebay at no reserve at the 4th of July. Important note to my younger self, NEVER sell a car on Ebay that ends on the fourth of July.

    There was a 1993 or so model I bought back in 2006 for $700 from an auction. 190k. Smell of smoke inside. But the record… God this thing had records like Ted Nugent has firearms. Turns out it was owned by a long-time relative of the owner of the Subaru dealership. If i remember correctly the vehicle was given a transmission cooler that was inserted at an exceptionally weird angle on the vehicle. I sold it to a Croatian who smoked as well.

    Nice cars if a cruisin’ semi-sporty coupe is what you’re looking for. Driving it reminded me a lot of the late 80′s early 90′s Toyota Supra. Heavy. Kinda luxurious. Too expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      I thought that these cars were unusually and interestingly styled, but in the end, I bought an ’89 Supra Turbo, just as you suggest. But after the Supra [which I loved and kept for a decade], I did make the move to all wheel drive vehicles, Audis for me, and a Subaru for my wife.

  • avatar
    srogers

    Subaru cars througout history – all ugly. But then there’s this one. How did Subaru manage to market such a beautiful car when homely is so embedded in their dna?

    I considered searching for one of these to buy used in the past, but then I discovered that it only existed with automatic transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      jonnyguitar

      Italian automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign designed the slippery, sleek bodywork.

      Of course Subaru also had an Italian design firm work on the WRX, for which I believe the outcome was a very ugly car.

      Subaru bemoans the fact that everyone loved these cars… as soon as they stopped making them.

  • avatar
    rpm773

    Ahh, finally.

    Whenever I see the Chevy Volt, I’m reminded of a car from the late 80s/early 90s from a second-tier Japanese brand. But I could never remember who/what it was. This is it…the Subaru SVX.

  • avatar
    jonnyguitar

    Italian automobile designer Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign designed the slippery, sleek bodywork,

    Of course Subaru also had an Italian design firm work on the WRX, for which I believe the outcome was a very ugly car.

    Subaru bemoans the fact that everyone loved these cars… as soon as they stopped making them.

  • avatar
    red60r

    I test-drove a new SVX when they first came out. It felt heavy and numb. Especially because the same group of dealerships had the new Acura NSX available for testing– not heavy or numb. I was even able to frighten the Acura salesman a bit — he took me on a test ride before turning over the wheel to me; I took the same fast curve he did at the same RPM, then he noticed I had it in 3rd gear, not 2nd like he did. Nice road-holding… The tire-eating propensities and delicate aluminum coachwork of the NSX made it too much of a gamble for an everyday driver. I kept my intercooled Volvo 244 a few more years.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    What I find really odd about this junkyard find is that the radio is still in there. Usually that’s one of the first things to go.

  • avatar
    david42

    I used to own one. Seeing this one at a junk yard makes me want to cry.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    One of those quirky cars I lusted for when they came out. I still think the design is beautiful. I remember some of them had suede inserts in the leather seats. Impractical, but oh so cool to a young man.

    It’s no shocker the car was a flop though, it was expensive, relatively slow and heavy, and had major issues (my understanding is a $20 transmission cooler would have saved the transmission headaches)

    In today’s dollars, they would probably be around $45k out the door for a car that a similar-era 6 cylinder Camaro would smoke. There were just better import offerings for the dollar.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I came close to buying one about four years ago. Read up on them online, talked to a friend who had one, drove a nice one that a local car lot had for sale. Thought about it for too long and it was gone when I came back.

    Then a guy up the road had one for sale for $2500. I stopped to look at it and found that it had a dead battery and a space-saver spare on one wheel. So no chance to test-drive. Someone got it though, it was gone after just a week or two.

    I think there are more of these cars around in western WA than most places. I see one every couple of month or so.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    My father in law bought one of these new. He loved it but I sure as hell did not. It was slow and didn’t handle that well. If they’d turbocharged that flat six and offered a manual trans…..

  • avatar
    millmech

    From what I’ve read, Subaru made its “unbreakable” reputation with the early cars with the disolvomatic body shells. Later ones don’t sound like they’re very unbreakable at all.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    perhaps the departure of Alfa from the states caused this thing to sell at all. That and the end of the SAAB 900

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    I remember driving a few of these in back in my valet days. Nothing special. I think that awful automatic killed it.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    Of the two dozen or so cars I’ve had, my 1992 SVX LS-L remains my favorite. A superlative GT, not a sports car, the SVX had the most comfortable seats, the oddly useful window-within-a-window, and a really good AWD system, not to mention an elegant body. I bought it with 17,000 miles and when I sold, it it had 103,000 miles. It ate wheel bearings, had two transmissions, and collected water in the taillights, but what a great car! As the Packard ads urged, “Ask the man who owns one.”

    • 0 avatar
      MrWhopee

      Pretty similar experience with my 1992 SVX as well. I think it was the LS-L model too. Though I had only one tranny failure before trading it in. I think it might be the best car I’ve owned too. Sad to see one in the junkyard…

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    While all Subarus are interesting mechanically, I believe this was the absolute model that was visually interesting, in a good way. Since the SVX, everything they’ve done has been either dishwater dull in the looks department, or had a retina-searingly-ugly flying vagina on the front.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    Like the Citroen SM, this is a car whose weird factor appeals to me but whose reality of ownership experience will likely always preclude me from actually purchasing. I mentioned to my Subaru mechanic that I’d thought about it, and he told me, “well, a lot of people put a WRX transmission in them, and that seems to work pretty well…but overall, it’s a pain in the ass to work on, not to mention heavy. You’d be just as happy with a WRX.” Which I think was his way of saying, “if you get one, I’ll work on it, but I’ll charge you a premium to do so”.

    I did see a nice one recently in Beaverton, OR…out of commission on a flatbed truck.


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