This Italian-designed grand tourer costs way less than you'd think.
Subaru was a very different automaker back in the early 1990s. Although its vehicles had all-wheel drive, as they still do today (save for the BRZ), the small Japanese automaker was still not quite the family and dog-friendly brand it has become today. But what it was, and still is, is quirky. Just look at the SVX, for example. Launched for 1991 and on the market until 1996, the SVX was, and remains, unlike any other Subaru.
This grand touring coupe was actually styled by none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro, the famed Italian car designer behind the original Maserati Ghibli, DeLorean, Lotus Esprit S1, and the first-generation VW Golf, among many others. Originally appearing as a concept at the 1989 Tokyo Auto Show, the SVX was a big departure from what Subaru typically built at the time.
Remember, this was way before the likes of the Outback and Forester. Your typical old school Subaru was something like the Leone, the predecessor to the Impreza. Before the brand found its crossover groove, it experimented a bit, and the SVX was one way of doing so. Power came from a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter horizontally opposed flat-six paired to a four-speed automatic. There was no other powertrain option, unlike the SVX’s predecessor, the also quirky XT but Subaru did briefly consider building a shooting brake variant. As Subaru didn’t have a manual available that could handle the horsepower and torque, a total of 231 hp and 228 lb-ft, only an automatic gearbox was offered.
However, the SVX actually had two different versions of the Subaru’s all-wheel-drive systems, depending on which country it was sold in. Models sold in the UK, Japan and Brazil had a more advanced variable torque distribution system while US-spec models came with a still very capable varied torque split active system. Like all Subarus, the SVX was very well engineered.
As for exterior design, well, it was sort of a love it or hate type of thing. Subaru even decided to incorporate some of the SVX’s styling into the facelifted 1992 Legacy.
But the SVX was definitely more upscale than the old XT. In fact, it was kind of the right car at the right time for Subaru because Acura, for example, had just launched the NSX a couple of years prior. The glory ‘90s Japanese sports car era was underway and Subaru felt it was in a good spot to cash in. However, there was a bit of a problem.
Subaru buyers weren't accustomed to more expensive Subarus and balked at the SVX’s $25,000 price tag. Naturally, this hurt overall sales and as part of an effort to boost that, Subaru launched a less expensive front-wheel-drive version for 1994. But sadly, the SVX also had to contend with another factor in the US during its lifetime: an economic recession. Despite the cheaper FWD variant, SVX sales in the US never took off. Just 640 examples were sold in its final model year. This 1995 Subaru SVX we spotted for sale on Craigslist Miami looks to be in remarkably good condition with around 85,000 original miles. The exterior and interior are nearly flawless and we can’t see any signs of rust or even paint damage. And at just $4,000, or best offer, it’s also very cheap.
We wouldn’t classify the Subaru SVX as a serious collector’s car, but the classic car market can be weird. What was considered uninteresting one year could, for whatever reason(s), do a complete one-eighty a few years later. Aside from that, for very little money you can get this AWD GT coupe designed by an Italian legend with plenty of life left in it.