I had a car JUST like this one, same color, but sadly, not quite as good of condition, that I bought to save from a California emissions test failure that was going to send it to the crusher. Instead of the State of California paying the previous owner 1000$ to condemn and crush the car, I paid him that much, and had the car moved to the midwest. I later sold the car due to some financial obligations... but I miss the hell out of that car!
There are a few corrections to Doug’s Quirks and Features.
0 - premise level: STOP CALLING IT A SPORTS CAR, it is a Grand Touring Coupe. Comparing it to the other Japanese sports cars is not accurate, and Doug finally admits that in the end.
This should be considered along side Ford Thunderbird, and Toyota Soarer/Lexus SC300, it is not anywhere NEAR an FD-3S RX7, despite both being 2-door Japanese coupes of the same era, although it does structurally relate closely to the Z32 300ZX 2+2, from the firewall back. Changes were required to the front structure for the width of the flat 6 engine, and it’s placement for Subaru’s AWD transaxle.
In it’s day, this was called the affordable alternative to the Porsche Carrera 4, by basically being a similar drivetrain, reversed.
1: Subaru was not the only car to have split-pane windows. McLaren F1, DeLorean DMC12, and Lamborghini Countach do, too. Many cars have hadtriangular “wing” windows to meet the a-pillar also, all for similar reasons.
Answer, the reason: either size or curvature (both in SVX’s case) prohibit stowing the window glass in the door’s interior volume. So the glass gets divided so that the fixed parts can be larger and have the desired curvature, and the retractable part is small enough to fit in the door, and flat enough to seal with a small channel in the top edge of the door skin.
2: The glass-over-pillar was not done to eliminate the A-pillar, or similarly covered B and C pillars also, which A
Answer, the reason: it was done for aerodynamics, to have those small rubber seams be the only surface change in the airflow, instead of bulky, thick window frames and pillar structures. The fixed large door windows that meet the windshield and the roof were done for greater visibility and cockpit/canopy visibility.
3: the B-pillars on the SVX could also not structurally be eliminated, due to those automatic seatbelts. 92-94 SVXs only had driver’s airbags, 95 and 96, and left-over 97 SVXs with passenger Airbags got traditional non-moving seatbelts, IIRC.
4: regarding the glass-over canopy look, not all cars were two-toned, and one option was actually a three-tone paint job.
Bordeaux (the car featured, as well as the color I had), Silver, and Pearl White were two-toned. Green, Blue, Red, and ironically, BLACK metallic, were not two toned, and the roof, trunk lid, and spoiler were painted body color. There was a Ruby Red option overseas, in two-tone, brighter than Bordeaux, with two-tone. The later 94-97 offered Claret Red, which was not two-toned. There was a 3-tone silver option, with a gray tone below the body line, and a black roof.
5: The single-button keyfob, the daytime headlight dash brightness, the variable parked windshield wipers, the climate control, covered stereo head unit, and the alcantara interior finish may seem quirky by today’s standards, but this preceded keyless unlocking, DRLs becoming standard, constant-lighted dashboard, touch-sensitive climate control, and other features, on cars in Subaru’s price class by years, if not decades.
6: the fog lights are integrated into the headlights, again, for aerodynamics, however, the stock bulbs were not yellow. This has been changed, like the aftermarket stereo system, on just this car. However, there is REASON for yellow light as fog lights, and even older french headlights, which is called “selective yellow.”
This is a very informative article about selective yellow lighting.
7: SVX was NOT the first flat 6 Subaru car. the XT coupe that was SVX’s predecessor had an XT-6 model with a smaller displacement flat-6, as well as an XT turbo-4.
8: more about the engine, and transmission... Subaru didn’t have other cars with this sort of engine torque available at that time. The turbo-4 cars weren’t as powerful in the late 80s and early 90s as they became in the late 90s and 2000s.
The H6 engine may have been lower powered than the 6-cylinder turbocharged cars, like 300ZX turbo, the Supra Turbo, 3000GT/Stealth Turbo, but it was MORE powerful and had more torque than the non-turbo variants of those cars, as well as the same peak horsepower as a supercharged Thunderbird SuperCoupe, and 5 more horsepower than the 1992 and 1993 pushrod 5.0 V8 in the Ford Mustang.
Because the engine was detuned and limited due to the gearbox. The only option Subaru had available was that 4-speed automatic that usually only dealt with 4-cylinder Subaru torque output. The TORQUE of the V6 was limited to 230 ft.-lbs. on that engine to try to keep the transmission from burning itself out, which it did anyway.
Every 4-speed subaru since that time, into the 2010s, has had 230 ft.-lbs. of torque or less, including automatic WRXs, Baja, Legacy, Outback, and Forester turbo models, etc... The later 5-speed automatic was also limited to 250 ft.-lbs. in 2005+ Legacy, Outback, Tribeca, and STI Spec-A.
When the EG33 SVX engine, a design adapted from the EJ22 closed-deck turbocharged flat-4 motorsport engine with another pair of horizontally opposed cylinders inserted in the middle, is paired with a later-model, robust manual gearbox from a WRX or STI, that can handle more torque, the EG33 has been tuned to more than 300hp/tq naturally aspirated, and supposedly closer to 400hp/tq with twin turbos and 22B lower compression pistons, and turbo cam profiles.
Keep in mind, WRX debuted in the US in 2004, even though it originated in Japan in 1992, along with the SVX that year. 2004 is 12 years after SVX debuted, and 7 years after it was cancelled, along with the rest of the Japanese import coupes, and most coupes in general.
Comparing this car to modern cars is a fallacy. Comparing this car to other cars from 1992 shows how much closer to today this car is than a Fox Mustang, 3rd-gen F-body, or even Ford’s Thunderbird, or GM’s W-body front-drivers, like Lumina, Regal, Grand Prix, and Cutlass Supreme.
Yes, arguably Subaru did over-commit, and probably net-lost money, because the car shared nothing with other Subarus, and very little with any other car at all. Platform sharing could have saved this car’s budget.
This car could be built with parts bin shared components from WRX/STI, Legacy/Outback, and Tribeca parts today... although Subaru seems to be bent on suffocating it’s EZ36D flat 6 to death.
As tech forward as SVX was in 1992, a theoretical 2022 SVX could be an affordable BMW i8 performance-oriented, high-style PHEV, where the original was an affordable Porsche Carrera 4.
FA20DIT as a generator, and cruise-engaged direct-drive engine, with modest battery/capacitor capacity, and electric drive and regeneration, built for efficient use of power, rather than efficiency as a reason for lack of power.
All in a car as style and tech-forward today as ItalDesign’s SVX concept was back then, in 1989... Subaru hasn’t produced a car so close to their concept cars since.