PPG paint and a 140-mile-per-hour top end did not automatically qualify the SVX as a pace car for the racing series. Banowetz commented: “The cars were used on the actual tracks as needed during competition. The goal was to give the PPG guests and spectators ‘excitement,’ so the car had to perform. Wally Dallenbach, Sr. (Indy Car Chief Steward and PPG Pace Car evaluator) and the PPG team were not convinced that 3.3 liters and 230 horsepower would be adequate. However, after an audition at Phoenix International Raceway, Mr. Dallenbach came away surprised and impressed. The SVX was in the program.”
Preparation for racetrack duties came at the hands of Roush Industries in Michigan. “The car remained amazingly stock,” explained Banowetz. “FHI provided struts and springs for a tighter and lower handling package. The brakes, wheels, engine, and transmission received no modifications. The muffler was changed to add to the excitement factor. Other changes were for safety and the attention-getting appearance.”
Safety is always a concern in racing, and pace cars receive comprehensive modifications to that end. Banowetz listed the work done for the SVX: “Safety enhancements included an unobtrusive, tightly integrated roll cage. A lot of work was devoted to the cage construction. In addition to providing accident protection, the cage was to be as transparent as possible to the PPG guests. The idea was not to look like a racecar. Also, the cage needed to be out of the way for entry and exit. The time allotted for on-track pace car activities was limited, and PPG wanted to have as many guests experience the ride of a lifetime as possible. Climbing through a myriad of roll-cage tubes was not an option. The cage was hardly noticeable in the headliner.
“Other safety equipment included a means to shut off the electrical system in the event of a rollover, replacement stainless braided fuel lines, racing-style seatbelts, and a fuel cell. PPG added the roof-mounted strobe, replaced the tail and headlights with strobes, and added a crowd-warning beeper for transits through the paddock.”
That wasn’t all that PPG did to the car. “PPG took the lead for the paint and interior color,” said Banowetz. “A unique front-to-rear fade was chosen – very unusual, as most fades are top to bottom. The color needed to be striking and one-of-kind, and the purple fade accomplished exactly that. The coordinated interior color rounded out the package.”
“Most pace cars saw only one season of use before being retired. The SVX, being a driver favorite, remained longer.”
More Subaru performance vehicles in the attic can be found here, starting with part one in Version 3.2.