Giorgetto Giugiaro, maestro of design, penned immediately identifiable silhouettes belonging to the DeLorean DMC-12 and Volkswagen Golf to create a permanent mark on the automotive landscape. Less known: the masterful Italian stylist’s curriculum vitae began with the 1967 Isuzu 117 Coupe and grew to include several remarkable Japanese vehicle models over several decades — including the Subaru SVX.
Descended from the Alcyone XT, Subaru’s two-seat grand touring coupe grew out of its predecessor’s angular chrysalis to emerge with flowing curves, a glassy cabin, and a new name: SVX. The year was 1992, and in the United States, where almost nobody knew of the “Subaru Tecnica International” high-performance division by the nickname “STi”, Subaru banked on the SVX to bring luxury and sporting credentials to the brand. In its era, the highly specialized SVX played the plodding hound to hares by the name of 300ZX and 3000GT. Compared to those rivals, the Subaru was more comfortable but less quick on dry pavement; more affordable, but less overtly athletic. The absence of a manual transmission in the US precluded performance purists. By the numbers, the SVX was hard to justify against its peers — but as true car aficionados know, numbers never tell the whole story. Giugiaro’s evocative penmanship captured the hearts of at least 14,000 US buyers, according to production figures hosted on SubaruSVX.com.
Ownership communities devoted to the SVX have become even more tightly knit over the years, as quality spare parts have become more difficult to find. Recently, we spotted a Laguna Blue Pearl example at Pull-A-Part of Norcross near Atlanta. We sent an APB to SVXNation, a Facebook Group that grew out of an Instagram account started by Vonya Jaime Price. Within hours, one member planned a cross-country trip to save hard-to-find parts from the limited-production color and trim level.
“I’ve been a Pull-A-Part customer for at least 10 years,” said Ryan Van, who traveled nearly 200 miles from near Asheville, North Carolina to harvest parts from the rare find. “I spent about $700 between parts for myself and parts ordered by people in the Facebook Group. I would have probably bought a lot more.”
Van managed to save a carload of impossible-to-find parts. He pulled a hood, unbolted a trunklid, scavenged a complete set of taillights and found myriad interior trim components, switches and details needed to make any Subaru restoration project complete. From the fender liners to the ECU, many of the parts in Van’s haul could be considered priceless — especially as the car becomes more rare as the days press on.
“The club began on Instagram as a way to show my newfound obsession, and the response was humbling,” said Price, who started SVXNation in September 2015. “By all means, my wife and I are new to the SVX family. Our first SVX was purchased one year ago: a red 1997 LSi.”
Since then, SVXNation has grown to become a 6000-strong legion of fans from around the world. As a Do-It-Yourself used auto parts salvage yard, Pull-A-Part does not pull or ship parts — so SVXNation members are trained to mobilize as soon as a Notify Me alert indicates one of these rare cars landed on a yard.
“With the limited production run of our cars and their age, finding certain parts is impossible without the help of the community through the use of parts yards and private part outs,” Price said. “Items like the special glass can only be sourced from parts cars, and even then, can cost thousands of dollars. Having a parts yard where you can source it yourself really is the lifeblood of the community, since not everyone lives somewhere with room for a parts car.”
It’s a fraternity of Subaru enthusiasts who keep each other on the road, and celebrate with multiple annual meet-ups at venues such as the Tail of the Dragon and Reading, Pennsylvania. The brotherhood is somewhat different from the rest of the Subaru fandom, Price said — and it all comes down to design.
“It’s how ‘un-Subaru’ the vehicle looks in comparison to the rest of the production line that attracts the cars’ fan base,” Price said. “About a third of our members are those who own either own the previous Alcyone, Vortex or XT, or they own another Subaru with an EG33 engine swap. It’s not the typical Subaru fan base. What we have discovered is, the majority of our members are very unique.”