There aren’t many ’90s coupes with all-wheel drive and a flat-six engine. In fact, there are only two. And this one’s Japanese, so it’s not the Porsche 911 you were thinking of. It was styled by Giugiaro, and it’s got windows inside windows. It’s our Find of the Week this week, a 1992 Subaru SVX.
The SVX was supposed to be the start of a newer and less quirky Subaru brand. It had an electronically controlled all-wheel drive system, four-wheel steering in some markets, and a drag coefficient of just 0.29. It was intended to be not just a performance car, but a luxury model as well.
Subaru gave it an all-new engine. It was a 3.3L flat-six, related to the flat-four that Subaru used in the Japanese market Legacy and Impreza. With 3.3L of displacement, it had dual-overhead cams and higher compression. The engine made 231 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque. That was a big number for 1992, more than what many V8 coupes were making at the time. The only transmission was a four-speed auto, since Subaru didn’t make a manual that could handle the power.
Subaru set the bar high for the car, trying to hit the luxury level of a BMW 5 series or an Infiniti Q45 while offering the same level of driving enjoyment and performance as a Nissan 300ZX or a Chevrolet Corvette. This was their flagship, and it got everything thrown at it.
Those strange windows-in-windows were designed to give you the best view possible. If the window was the full size, it wouldn’t be able to roll down. Subaru would need to either shrink the door glass by raising the belt line or accept a window that wouldn’t roll. Their solution gives the driver the maximum amount of glass, while still letting the window roll all the way down.
The details don’t stop there. Subaru used unusual double-lip gaskets that stop water from dripping from the roof onto the seat when the door is open. Most new coupes still haven’t figured that little trick out. The side sills have a small ledge that prevents the mud that naturally gets into the door jams from getting on your pant leg. They even installed all of the power seat motors at the leading edge of the seat. That maximised foot room for rear-seat passengers.
It all made for a coupe that was revolutionary at the time. Unfortunately for Subaru, that styling was very polarizing. Even today, it’s either love it or hate it. We think it’s undeniably ’90s cool.
Our find of the week is the result of a road trip gone right. The owner and a friend were inspired by Roadkill’s adventures of flying across the country, buying a car and driving home. But when your own garage holds such right-hand drive strangeness as a kei-roadster Honda Beat and a Toyota bB – that’s the Japanese model that spawned the Scion xB – with all-wheel drive, then you aren’t looking for the usual vintage American iron.
He wanted a Lexus GS. That’s the easy button for eating up miles in comfort. But when they arrived in Florida, his friend saw this SVX listed and a decision was made.
The car looked great, and it had a recently rebuilt transmission, but it had been sitting for a few years. After trying to boost it using an undersized booster pack and two dead batteries, the car was up and running. Everything was working well, so some cash and some paperwork traded hands and the owner was headed back to Nova Scotia.
On the first day, everything seemed great. Walking out to the car the next morning showed that when a car has been sitting for a very long time, things can dry out. There were oil leaks from the valve cover gaskets and what appeared to be a transmission fluid leak. But when you’re making this kind of trip, you’re expecting some issues. The valve covers were an easy fix, and the transmission fluid was just a loose hose clamp.
It made the rest of the trip to its new home without a complaint, and the owner has been driving the car since. But the steering wheel is on the wrong side for him, and there is a shiny new wagon getting ready to get loaded on a ship for the trip to Canada. That means that it’s time for this SVX to go.
The SVX was a rare car. Fewer than 25,000 were sold around the world, with fewer than 1,000 making it to Canada. This one has just 131,000 km and looks to be rust free. If you’re looking for quirky ’90s cool, then it’s hard to find more of either than this Subaru SVX, for sale in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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