Final Drive: 1997 Subaru SVX motoring memories final drive car culture car culture
1997 Subaru SVX. Click image to enlarge

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Article and photos by Mike Schlee

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1997 Subaru SVX

Few vehicles have been more bizarre, or sold more poorly, than the 1992–1997 Subaru SVX. Don’t get me wrong, I love this car and actually owned one briefly, but it was as polarizing as U.S. politics. Only 24,379 units were sold during its six-year run and by the final year, 1997, only 640 SVXs made it into customer hands in North America—a fairly sad number. Of the cars sold, it is anyone’s guess how many are still on the road worldwide, but I would be shocked if the number exceeded 10,000 vehicles. So, since this car could be rarer to get a drive in than a classic muscle car, I thought I would delight indulge bore waste-your-time with my account of a final drive behind the wheel of this unusual Subaru coupe.

Final Drive: 1997 Subaru SVX motoring memories final drive car culture car culture
1997 Subaru SVX. Click image to enlarge

0 km – I crouch down to get into the SVX. There is no headroom in this spaceship. I need to put the front seat into a ‘gangsta lean’ to fit my large noggin. The headrest is as useless as a doggie door on a submarine. It is angled so far back I would be near a sleeping position to use it.

1 km – While at a red light, I want to adjust the steering wheel. Shocked that a car designed in 1992 has a telescopic wheel, I spend the next several seconds trying to decipher why the tilt and steering functions require three separate adjustment knobs. Pulling on the wrong lever, I realize one is a steering wheel quick release for easy exit. The steering wheel is now at a school bus–like angle.

2 km – The more I look around the interior, the more suede I see. This Subaru has more of it than a closet full of Uggs.

3 km – As I merge onto a four-lane road, I begin to realize just how low I am sitting in this car. Ah, the 1990s, when low and wide was still in fashion. The modern Civics, Impalas, and Camrys I pass all appear to by high-riding crossovers from where I’m seated.

4 km – Car’s check engine light turns on; I hope it’s not fatal.

Final Drive: 1997 Subaru SVX motoring memories final drive car culture car culture
1997 Subaru SVX. Click image to enlarge

5 km – Stuck at another red light I have time to reflect some more on the SVX’s interior. It could very well be the nicest interior Subaru has every created, which is equal parts amazing and sad.

7 km – Just noticed there is an extra wiper control in the car. I look out back and, lo and behold, I have a rear window wiper. This is pretty rare on a non-hatchback coupe with a proper trunk. It is very JDM; Brian O’Conner would approve.

13 km – Finally on some open road and able to gain a bit of speed. As I approach an intersection, I begin pressing on the brake pedal and nothing happens. I press harder-harder-HARDER-HARDER-HARDER-OHDEARGODPLEASESTOP. I come to a complete stop inches from the car in front of me. No problem! I wasn’t worried… right… right???

36 km – Check engine light turns off.

39 km – I make it out of the city and onto some twisting roads. By turn one I realize the SVX does *not* turn. The front tires just scuff and scrape at the pavement hoping to change the directional path of this heavy Subaru. I will probably need a new set of front tires by the end of this drive.




About Mike

Mike Schlee is the Social Editor at Autos.ca and autoTRADER.ca. He began his professional automotive writing career in 2011 and has always had a passion for all things automotive, working in the industry since 2000.