Nicest One Left? 1996 Subaru SVX

The Subaru SVX has long been considered ripe for becoming a collector car, namely for its exotic credentials and rarity in anything approaching concours-grade condition. These were not easy cars to maintain, by the standards of most Subaru owners in the early 90s, and the automatic transmission was a major weakness. Still, some of them have been cherished and preserved by dedicated owners, and those cars usually command a lot of eyeballs when they come up for grabs (which is rarely). This 1996 Subaru SVX LSL listed here on eBay shows under 70,000 miles and presents incredibly well. The seller considers it one of the best, and has listed it with an asking price of $14,900.

As a 1996 model, this would make it a final year example. The trim line denotes the most luxurious spec available, so this SVX checks a lot of boxes right off the bat. Throw in the gorgeous deep green paint, leather interior, and seemingly no major cosmetic blemishes and it’s readily apparent this one has been loved. The seller has tweaked it slightly, adding a coilover suspension and Mazda RX8 wheels with longer wheel studs and spacers to ensure the larger wheels sit flush with the fenders. It’s a surprisingly OEM look, despite being from another manufacturer entirely. The grill is from the Japanese market version of the SVX, known as the Alcyone – another sensible upgrade.

The Achilles heel of the SVX was the standard automatic transmission. If I recall correctly, Subaru didn’t have a lot of options for a transmission on the shelf that could handle the impressive stock power output of the flat six-cylinder engine. That being said, the autos have held up when maintained properly, and treated to regular transmission fluid flushes. Still, many owners have taken the opportunity to swap in manual gearbox when the original auto starts slipping (or worse), but it’s great to see one that has clearly been loved and kept in nearly stock condition. There’s nothing wrong with an automatic in a grand tourer like this, and it speaks to careful ownership. The leather seats look to be quite clean as well.

I will admit to being enchanted by a Subaru flat-six in my previous life when I had a short dalliance with this car’s spirit animal, a 1988 Subaru XT6. Let’s just say that was not a happy relationship, and this SVX looks like a much better choice if you must own a flat six cylinder model that isn’t a Porsche 911. The challenge with selling a car like this is a relatively narrow target market and the lack of price appreciation for even nicely maintained examples like this. It’s almost too obscure at this point, and Subaru has done a poor job of providing support for owners of its vintage vehicles. Still, if you have to have one, it’s definitely a car you can feel good about paying too much for to have one of the best ones left.


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  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Always wondered why they didn’t sell these by the dozens. Great looking car (thought the windows on the doors will not always well-received) and good performance for it’s time with the manual as I recall. Nice mods and tastefully done.

    Like 6
    • SubGothius

      These were never offered with a manual transmission, as Subaru didn’t have a unit that could handle the engine’s power output at the time. You might be thinking of its predecessor, the XT6. Some folks have done manual swaps with a later WRX transmission that can handle the power.

      Like 3
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    As far as I know,these only came with automatics,
    probably why they didn’t sell to well.

    Like 8
    • Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

      And while Jeff is being polite, the auto tends to grenade short of 100k

      Like 8
      • JP

        The later trannies were much better and on par with any auto. This one should be ok.

        Like 4
      • Turbo

        That’s what happened to mine

        Like 1
  3. PAUL in Ma

    Other than the transmissions these were great cars. I had one for a couple years. Getting certain parts is a real problem now though, things like the windshield. People do manual swaps on them but they are tough to keep on the road unless you drive them like this at 2k miles a year.

    Like 1
  4. Chip

    Knew two owners who had auto trans power flushes done, which killed the transmissions each time. Always follow owners manual!

    Like 2
    • SubGothius

      Also rotate the tires religiously, and replace all 4 at the same time with new matching tires. I’ve read that uneven tire wear, sometimes exacerbated by a clogged intake screen in the transmission cooler line (later SVXs eliminated this screen) contributed to cooking the diff and trans causing premature failure.

    • JEFF S.

      The people who came up with the auto trans power flush, should be sued. A great way to ruin any automatic transmission. Many shops were I live in Montana have stopped using them, thank God. Now they are just setting in the corner collecting dust. This car looks amazing and is only 156 miles south, from where I am staying for the winter. Listing has ended, I may contact seller as I have always wanted one. I need to come up with a reason to drive south with the wife and accidentally drive buy this gem. lol.

      Like 1
  5. Malcolm Boyes

    Another oddball car I have always loved that I believe was originally designed for Alfa Romeo..which would make sense from its looks. When Alfa passed Subaru grabbed it I am sure looking for a “halo” car to attract attention.It got mine and I have always liked them a lot. Did they all come as all wheel drive?

    Like 2
    • PAUL in Ma

      Most were all wheel drive but not all. They had the L version for a couple years, 94 and 95 which was just FWD. About half the cars sold were 92 models which had the biggest problem with the transmission and also had those automatic lap bets. You want a 96 or 97. The 97 have a different grill.

      Like 4
      • Turbo

        I can vouch for what he said about the 92’s. Plus the brakes were barely adequate for spirited driving. You will, however, get a lot of thumbs up driving this car. People dig the odd side windows and usually say “what is it?”

        Like 1
  6. Joe Sewell

    I loved these back in the day-still love’em. Ad doesn’t state whether this one is FWD or AWD.

    • JEFF S.

      Original ad on Ebay says AWD.

      Like 1
  7. BW

    WOW! This could be my car. I had a ’96 LSL in this color combo back in the late ’90s. Absolutely loved it! Got unbelievable eyeball and drove fantastic. The window within a window was a bit weird especially when you had to pay a bridge toll (live in the SF Bay Area). What an absolutely brilliant touring car. Smooth as glass and instilled confidence with the all wheel drive. The PERFECT sports car for snowy locations.

    Like 1
  8. pete

    I’ve owned two. Fabulous cars…except that damned transmission.

    Like 1

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