If striking design and technical sophistication were the prime factors in determining a car's collectibility, the Subaru SVX (1992-97) would certainly make the grade.
Introduced in 1991 as a Giugiaro-designed show car, it wowed the public and the motoring press with its trend-setting Italian design. The SVX was both praised and criticized for its originality, especially the odd two-part side windows. The full-time all-wheel drive in most models presaged what has become commonplace in high-performance cars, but a full decade later.
Appearing in the US in 1991 as a 1992 model, the SVX was Subaru's flagship product, replacing the bizarre XT with its video-game inspired upholstery and dashboard. Sadly, the market niche Subaru had developed in the US for compact four-wheel drive cars and wagons was an odd fit with a high-performance GT car. Sales were leisurely at best.
Several models were offered over the course of the SVX's lifetime. Initially, there was an LS and an LS-L model. The LS-L, which sold for several thousand more than the base model, came with a "Touring Package" consisting of leather, more power options, a better stereo, and the like. The only models to stay away from are the 1994 L and LS models, and the 1995 L, as these were front-wheel drive only.
The SVX had a 3.3-liter, water-cooled, 230-horsepower boxer six-cylinder and a four-speed automatic transmission with manual override. Combined with full-time all-wheel drive and an abundance of luxurious comfort features, the car was a long-distance driver's delight. The engine produces more-than-sufficient punch at any speed, and when motoring aggressively, the third-to-fourth upshift occurs at an impressive 124 mph. For 1992, this was quite a package.
Many discount the SVX as a boulevard cruiser or a poseur's sports car due to its hefty weight (3,525 pounds) and the fact that it was never offered with a manual transmission. However, its considerable poise and balance on the road more than adequately live up to the old Jaguar motto of "Grace, Space, Pace."
There are two potential trouble spots common to used SVXs. The transmission can suffer from heat-induced problems that can be an expensive fix ($1,800 to $4,200 depending on the shop and the problem). Symptoms include a delay while shifting, a thud when shifting to reverse, and the inability for fourth gear to engage. Wheel bearings also tend to fail prematurely, and this starts as a whine coming from the back of the car. Parts and labor amount to $230 per wheel. However, headaches other than these are few.
Retail for a decent SVX LS-L is less than $7,000. Look for one that has already had the transmission replaced, and hopefully has less than 100,000 documented miles.
Japanese cars are rarely collectible, and the SVX is no exception. However, a well-kept example will provide thousands of miles of brisk, sophisticated motoring at a very reasonable price.

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