Junkyard Find: 1996 Subaru SVX

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1996 subaru svx

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™.

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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.

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?