Late Giugiaro: 1996 Subaru SVX LSi AWD

The Subaru SVX was one of legendary designer Giugiaro's last major designs for a mainstream auto manufacturer.

SVX stood for "Subaru Vehicle X" and was based off of Giugiaro's concept that debuted at the 1989 Tokyo Auto Show. The concept was a hit and sent to production available in North America in July 1991 as a 1992 model. It replaced the 1985-1991 XT.

While the XT was an exercise in 1980s design themes of pyramidal edges, angles and cuts, the SVX attempted to set a new tone for styling of the 1990s. Giugiaro had been best known for his angular wedge shapes like the 1975 Lotus Esprit, but he always had an eye for simply good design, and towards the end of the 1980s he began to adopt more aerodynamically friendly curves and smooth, minimalist body panels.

The SVX is marked by simple shapes, rounded off corners and as little detail and extraneous flair as possible. The front features a futuristic slim single-peice wrap-around headlight cluster that dips in the center for engine air intake. This theme is mimicked in the rear with a single taillights strip, reminiscent of the Alfa Romeo 164. The hood cowl melds into the side mirrors. All pillars are covered by door seams and glass for an aircraft inspired look and feel. Only the lower portion of the side windows roll down for a low drag coefficient of Cd=0.29. The rear melts neatly into a layered spoiler and hatchback deck.

Most of these are seen in black, white or dark green but this example looks more exotic in red with aftermarket gold-lined cross-spoke wheels that work somehow. I dig the vibes it's giving.

Inside, occupants are treated to an equally performance-oriented interior of soft curves, flowing side door design, and light-colored plastics. I could do without the wood trim, however.

Just one engine was offered, a 3.3-liter 6-cylinder naturally aspirated engine that provided more power than the outgoing turbocharged 4-cylinder of the XT. A very healthy 231 horsepower was sent to all four wheels for superior traction in all types of inclement weather. All SVX came with automatic transmissions.

Despite its svelte body, decent power and AWD layout, the SVX could be considered a failure. It was much more expensive than any other Subaru at the time with asking prices of over $30k, so the public was hesitant to spend top dollar on them. Just 14,257 were sold here until 1996. Only an additional 10,000 were sold worldwide. Subaru lost $75 million on the SVX. It didn't help Japan was going through the start of an awful economic slowdown that would remain for the rest of the 1990s (and one they really haven't recovered from since).

Despite the lack of a more sporty manual transmission, I think these are awesome. It looks great, handles well in bad weather, and Subaru currently offers nothing else like it. At the very least, it is a classic Japanese car of the 1990s.

This example has only 97,396 miles on it. The seller states it runs and drives great, and the leather has no rips or tears.

Available here on ebay in Mount Olive, New Jersey with bidding at $1,025.

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