The Subaru SVX remains one of the most distinctive Subarus ever built, and was full of exciting details that made it seem a bit like someone stole a little commuter spaceship from the year 2163. But how much of that look is original, and how much came from a 1985 concept car?
"Stolen" is probably the wrong word to use here, really. Car design details and trends come and go like ocean tides, sweeping everyone up in their particulars before washing back out to the big design sea. Even so, Giugiaro's radical design for the SVX sure looks a hell of a lot like the Ghia/Vignale concept built on a Mustang SVD platform.
At the time, Ford owned Ghia, who was redefining Ford's design direction, most notably with the at-the-time revolutionary Taurus. A Ghia-ized Mustang certainly made sense, and this concept was one possible direction.
In fact, magazines like Motor Trend speculated it might be the direction for upcoming Mustangs, as they wondered aloud about "Tomorrow's Mustang?"
It was a reasonable guess, and while it didn't literally come true, the Subaru SVX brought almost everything the show car offered to the public about six years later, in 1991. Giugiaro may not have inspected the car in person, but it's a pretty safe bet that Italdesign was at least aware of the car, which was shown at the Chicago Auto Show in 1985.
It's not that there's a hint of the Ghia car in the SVX, it's that all the details that make the SVX so distinctive are in there, and the overall proportions and shape are quite similar.
Most obviously, of course, is the novel, aircraft-inspired window-in-window design for the side windows, which was a very rare detail on a mainstream car. There's also the way the hood line flows into the rear-view mirror housing (more elegantly done on the SVX), the line of the roof, the sloping, very thin front end, the general shape of the light units, the fender flare and swage line for the rear wheels — the cars are strikingly similar.
When I first saw the Ghia, I thought it was an SVX prototype. Officially, it wasn't, but maybe it sort of was, unofficially?
Also making my suspicion gland secrete skepticol is that Italdesign cited two other show cars for the inspiration for their SVX design in 1989: the Oldsmobile Inca and the Ford Maya (not to be confused with Maya Ford, bass player for the Donnas). I'm not sure what the heavy Mesoamerican influence in the names means, either.
While both those concepts have some general similarities to the SVX in overall shape and a certain character, neither is as close to the SVX as the Ghia Mustang was. Not even close. The Inca is a much longer gull-winged design, and the Maya is much more angular and looks and feels like a Lotus Esprit.
What do you think? Is this just the normal overlap of design trends and I should add a second layer to my tinfoil yarmulke, or could there have been a bit of professional peeking going on here?