Junkyard Find: 1996 Subaru SVX

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

One great thing about living in Colorado, where new residents are issued a dog and a Subaru when they arrive, is that I can find examples of just about every Subaru model sold here since the late 1970s in the local car graveyards. That means that I have plenty of opportunities to observe the gloriously weird SVX, once its street days are finished.

The SVX, known as the Alcyone SVX in its homeland, was the successor to the somewhat oddball XT. It was the most expensive and most powerful Subaru ever offered in North America when it appeared here for the 1992 model year, and especially impressive considering the agonizingly proletarian Subarus we got here just a decade or so earlier.

There’s no way crazy side glass like this would ever make it past Subaru of America’s focus groups today, but the 1990s saw the last gasp of the lengthy battle for weirdness supremacy between Subaru and Mitsubishi.

1996 was the final model year for the SVX here, and the list price for a 1996 SVX AWD L (which is what we’re looking at) came to $28,750 (about $51,755 in 2021 dollars). The most expensive Legacy Outback you could buy that year cost a mere $20,005.

The 3.3-liter H6 engine in this car made 230 horsepower, good for a quarter-mile time in the mid-15s.

Because Subaru didn’t have a manual transmission that could survive behind the H6’s output, every SVX made came with a four-speed Jatco automatic. Even so, the transmission proved to be the weak point in these cars; most junked SVXs I see have been fairly clean and uncrashed, so I assume that transmission woes ended their careers.

This one has a red tag from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s, citing it for having been “left unattended and unmoved on the roadway.”

The key is still in the ignition switch, so perhaps the ol’ SVX finally blew up in Arvada or Golden and its owner just walked away.

In its heyday, a Wolf bra protected its snout from chips.

It thinks it’s a BMW, only better.

I expected the home-market Alcyone SVX ads to be frantic, but they’re pretty schmaltzy.

For links to thousands more Junkyard Finds, take your tow truck over to the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.








Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Settsu Settsu on Dec 28, 2021

    I'm an auto enthusiast who specifically has always had a thing for the SVX. I think the number of times I've seen one wouldn't require every finger. Didn't know of their issues until reading the comments here, so I'm glad having never fallen hard for one, but I still wouldn't mind one populating my dream garage...

  • Graham64 Graham64 on Dec 29, 2021

    The red reflectors on the boot/trunk to visually integrate the tail lights was a bit of a styling fad in the 1990's.

  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
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