By on June 22, 2012

The Subaru SVX, as I explained in the text of the previous SVX Junkyard Find, is one of those cars with a real-world price tag far, far lower than Internet Car Experts would have you believe. So low, in fact, that it is not at all difficult to find Subaru’s amazing last-gasp-of-80s-silliness car in wrecking yards. Here’s a ’96 I found in Denver a few weeks back.
I think the XT has the more appealingly bewildering Moon Base Japan controls, but the big 3.3 liter boxer six beats the XT6′s engine.
This car is pretty clean for a junkyard resident, and it ought to be with just 117K on the clock.
Subarus have become more reliable since the heyday of 80s/90s design madness, but they’re lost a lot of character on the way.

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18 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1993 Subaru SVX...”


  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    The snow tire I can understand – but you’d think by now people would know not to mount them backwards.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Judging from the aftermarket wheels and the black Earl Scheib job over the original red, I’m guessing that car led a “shady” final existence. Pity, I was no fan of these when new but I’ll bet they’ll be sought after collectibles ten years from now.

  • avatar
    bauerjw

    Murilee must be livin’ the good life now and frequenting the Denver U-Pull-Apart lots *with paving* for the discriminating picker. I don’t recall seeing one in any of the Bay Area posts.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    If that engine is attached to a transmission that gave up the struggle of rowing its four gears a while ago (most likely) then this would be a good candidate to put into a GC Impreza.

    Quite a few people have done this already, with great results.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah – transmissions are the weak spot on these. Shame as the rest of the car is quite nice. Apparently Top Gear USA was spotted with one of these.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      I’ve heard of the SVX fix of swapping out the original transmission for a WRX manual unit, but I hadn’t considered dropping the 3.3 into an Impreza–not a bad idea. (I still have pangs of SVX lust now and then, but my Subie mechanic has talked me out of it thus far.)

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    There seems to be somebody in my neighborhood who owns one of these. I see it parked on the street now and then, in apparent working condition.
    An interesting, quirky, car. You have to wonder where there will be many more of them (interesting, quirky, cars) coming down the pipeline given the huge costs of development and the risk of failure.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    To see the motor still in it is interesting. That said I don’t think much character was lost on the original generation of Impreza. It definitely wasn’t as weird, but it was still my favorite car that I owned.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    A friend of mine had one these. Dark green. He got a set of wheels for it, lowered it, and for some reason thought a 125-shot (dry!) of nitrous was a good idea.

    His had a shorter final drive ratio out of an automatic Legacy installed. Electric cutouts that blasted flat-six exhauset gas out just behind the downpipes. Really cool car.

    He junked it after the transmission sh*t the bed a SECOND time. The first time, he had it rebuilt – and installed an external transmission cooler to prolong the explosions, as well as removing the mesh filter inside the transmission which over time gets gummed up and blocks flow of trans fluid, leading to death. You’d think eliminating the flow blockage as well as reduce the temps would do the trick. It did not.

    It ended up sitting at a local Japanese hot-rod shop in Raleigh (Phantasm Racing) for a few years before someone crazier than him bought it.

    And he was crazy. He also had an XR4Ti with no interior, blown shocks, and a frankenstein T3/T04 turbo. An Audi 5000 CS Quattro Turbo with an IAP chip, K26 turbo, 3″ straight pipe (and the locking center/rear diff and defeatable ABS!) And then a first-generation TT 180 Quattro that he upgraded nearly everything on, then put 100,000 miles on.

    He came to his senses and… just kidding! Bought a DA integra with a quarter-million miles on the shell, with a fresh B16A swap. Type R cams, intake manifold, AEM cam gears, Toda header, HKS exhaust, and a 7-lb flywheel with an unsprung 2-puck race clutch. Thing went like a scalded cat. most reliable car he ever had.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      Sounds like a fun car. But did he keep the auto SVX trans? From everything I’ve ever heard, after the original goes south (or even before then), you want to go with a WRX manual.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    That is too few miles for a Subie to die, something must have gone wrong!

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      Aforementioned transmission woes and wheel bearing issues, probably. One of the more flawed Subarus around (way too heavy, especially front-heavy, and more power than the trans could handle for long).

  • avatar
    oldyak

    groundbreaking car in its time..I remember the 20 page brochure…too bad they end up like this!
    but whats worse is seeing a BMW 740(which I currently drive) sitting next to it…shame,shame,shame. Those looking for a real collectors car in a few years will groan at what they see in past TTAC junkyard finds!

  • avatar
    Nick

    Apparently those engines make excellent motivators for these:

    http://www.sterlingsportscars.com/

  • avatar
    gmrn

    I recommended the purchase of a very nice 1992 vintage SVX in 1999 to my soon-to-be-wife, later-to-be-ex-wife. This was a one owner car and only had 30k on the odo. It was a totally loaded LS-L version. She bought the car and we both loved it, for a time. The ex and I parted ways in 04′ and by that time we had already replaced the tranny x1 (then again in ’06 by her report). In addition to the trans and wheel bearing issues menitoned by other folk, it also it loved to dine on brake pads, warp rotors, leak water into the tail light housings, and had a god-awful creaking noise from the dash assembly. The dash noise had a TSB associated with it, that required removing the whole dash and basically applying felt to the underside, but as it was long since out of warranty this was not done.
    As an interesting aside, the SVX had a true dual exhaust system. That lead to the OTHER problem. Our exhaust also liked to get tiny rust holes in it that I would have welded vs. replacing as the sections were pricey. As one of my final “husband” gestures I took it to the welding shop for her as it had developed yet another exhaust leak. (While I had moved out of the house by this time, I had a vested interest in ensuring the divorce proceedings went as smoothly as possible). As I was pulling into the welding shop with the windows up and AC on, due to hot weather, I noticed some very excited “hand-signs” from an employee in the shop. He was trying to rapidly convey that he wished me to turn my engine off due to GASOLINE LEAKING FROM THE CAR.
    I found out in short order that this is something welding shops frown on in their place of work.
    After waiting a fair amount of time for the liquid gas to dry, and the fumes to dissipate via opening every garage door in the shop (mind you, all welding ceased during this debacle) they placed her car on a lift. They diagnosed the problem as a rusted fitting on the fuel pump appeared to be leaking. I say they “diagnosed” but more perhaps more accurately, they theorized this to be the issue. As none of us could actually see the leak due to it being on top of the fuel tank. They were kind enough to say that they could “fab” something up, but this would require dropping the rear suspension to gain access to the fuel tank. They were not interested in dropping the suspension, nor was I.
    They proposed a solution to this dilemma. They could create an access panel though the floor pan, under the rear seat to facilitate access.
    I chose the latter.
    From the limited communication to my ex, the car continued to have various maladies, but served her mostly well. Interestingly the windshield sealant they used to waterproof the newly created access panel (which I omitting disclosing to her when I returned it) never had a chance to develop a leak by the time she got rid of it in 2008. The 3rd transmission need was apparently the final straw before it was gone.
    Regardless, someone snag & swap that engine. They sound wonderful and are oh-so-smooth!

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I saw one of these on the road yesterday and it made me smile. Too many still stock WRX’s in PDX for me to ever seriously consider one of these. A shipmate back in the day had a new one. It wasn’t as fast as it should have been even then. Quirky if you like it, stupid if you don’t design. I like that they’re out there, but not for me.

  • avatar
    Haakman

    One of my all-time favorite magazine stories (from Car Stereo Review, March/April 1993 issue) described a trip in a new SVX from the US into Canade to see a Tragically Hip concert. My memory is fuzzy on it but I do recall a prominent feature of the story being something called the Very Necessary Speedometer test. It was amusing to my 14-year-old self anyway. Anybody have that old rag stashed away?


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