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Chevrolet Vega

walterchanwalterchan Posts: 61
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
Tell me which is better. The Ford Pinto or the
Chevrolet Vega. Is the Vega used to be a reliable
transportation in the 70's.


  • modvptnlmodvptnl Posts: 1,352
    While neither car will make any top 100 list, the Vega has a disposable aluminum engine that with luck lasted 40,000 miles. The Pinto engine is still with us in its basic form. My vote goes to the mis-understood Pinto
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,371
    I think the Vega may be the worst car ever made in America in the last 100 years.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Well, I think we've pretty well covered the Vega here, as much as it needs to be covered. Four posts is about right.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,371
    It's really not the car but everything around the car that's interesting. Would make a good soap opera....we got your John Delorean, we got your labor/race problems at the factory, we got your American arrogance in the face of foreign competition, we got your half-baked engineers promising the world and delivering about 3 square blocks of bad real estate, we got your consumers up in arms, we got your dealers droppping the ball, we got your major corporation shooting itself in the foot.....oh, it's a juicy tale.

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  • stickguystickguy Posts: 24,958
    At least give GM credit for giving the cosworth Vega a try. I seem to recall reading that the engine should have put aout about 150HP, but for some reason they ended up at about 110. something with the intake or exhaust I think.

    Anyway, still a pretty sharp car, even pretty daring and radical considering what else was going on automotive-wise in 1975 detroit.

    Mr. Shifty, how are the Cos Vegs doing on the collectors market?

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Probably about as well as Mercury Bobcats.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 24,958
    Probably better than that. You don't see too many Bobcats in Hemmings, but you can find a Cosworth Vega.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,371
    Cogsworth Vegas? In the bargain basement, collector-car-wise, but better than a regular Vega. It's one of those marginal cult-cars that might occasionally find the 3 or 4 people in the world who are willing to pay some serious money for one. Like Nash Metropolitans, Corvairs, Avantis and Kit Cars....minor league collectibles, but worth a little something...certainly not what it would cost to put any of these cars in restored condition. EVen with a special cylinder head, the Cogsworth Vega is still a Vega with all the attendant problems and deficiences. About the only good thing you can say about the car is that it isn't bad looking.

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  • gkelly3gkelly3 Posts: 38
    -was it such a bad design? After all, PORSCHE used a similar design for their all-aluminum V-8 (in the 948), did it last? I actually had a Vega-it ran pretty well-I got about 113K miles out of it, after which the engine blew. The engine was rebuilt with stell sleeves, and lasted another 100K miles. As I understand it, the aluminum casting process really saved in labor-does the Saturn block casting ptocess owe anything to the vega?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,371
    The idea for the Vega engine was that the aluminum cylinders could be made hard enough without steel liners. This is a tricky business, and while Porsche and Mercedes got it right Chevrolet really needed more development work on this idea. Perhaps pioneers always suffer in technology?

    Amazingly enough, Chevrolet did not lose money on the Vega, despite premature engine failures and horrible rust problems.

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  • modvptnlmodvptnl Posts: 1,352
    That was the 928. And I believe you have the Vega record for longevity. Another popular swap for the Vega was the Pontiac "Iron Duke" motor.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,371
    BMW used this engine technology for the original M5-V8 in the early 1990s, but they had trouble as well.

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  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    The introduction of the production model Cosworth Vega was the point at which I gave up all hope for GM. I realized that the engineers might pop up with a bright idea now and then, but it would get distorted beyond recognition before it got to the market. The actual car produced, after all the hype that GM threw around at the time (Cosworth! They make racing engines!) was the Same Old Stuff...As an earlier poster said, it was capable of 150 HP but by the time the internal politics were finished at GM, it was down to 110 or so. Pathetic, and no excuse for it. I always thought that there would have been a great market for them.... A GTI before it's time (Assuming that Cosworth was smart enough to put the steel sleeves in at the factory).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,371
    Actually, a Vega at 150 mph is a frightening thought...maybe it's better the way it turned out.

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  • mmcswmmcsw Posts: 29
    How could the same company that produced the small block Chevy V-8 also have made the infamous Vega 4 banger??? This is one the great mysteries of our time.
    We had two in our family, both purchased new: a '71 with the 90 hp 1 bbl and a two speed auto, and a '74 with the higher output (110 hp?) motor with a three speed auto. As I recall they didn't handle too bad, but we sold them before the word was out about there nonexistent reliability.
  • nrd525nrd525 Posts: 109
    My friend had a 350 powered Vega that eventually went to a 502 big block!. He drove it on the street occasionally, I drove it at the strip, mostly because he stunk at "the tree". We had a street set up (low rise manifold and 600? Holley carb, 4.10 gears in a Ford 9" rear, 60 series tires, and a couple of very small turbo mufflers), and the track set up (high rise, 2 big holleys, 5.01? gears in a narrowed 9" ford rear,and some BIG slicks).
    It wasn't right on the street, it had way too much cam, but it still was able to scare any morons in a Mustang II away, if the roll cage didn't tip them off. It didn't handle well, the turbo 400 about broke your neck when it shifted,and it ate gas like a wino likes his MD2020, but was a lot of fun to mess with.
    My best pass at the track was 9.36 at 142+. Best finish was runer up in the "all run" bracket, there wasn't enough cars there to split them up, so they ran as one group. I got a bye in the first round, had an easy second when the guy red lighted, got another bye in the third when my opponent broke his driveshaft on the burnout, actually won easily the next two and then broke out with the above ET, 2 tenths faster than it ran an hour before! We never figured out why.
    Later on, I broke an axle,and whacked the wall, the car got fixed, but my friend sold it, and ended my driving career. He was spending a lot of cash on it, and decided to get out.
    I knew a guy who was in a "Vega" family, they had FOUR of them! Mom had a wagon, dad and both older daughters had the ugly notchbacks. They all had engine problems sooner or later, and happily, the son got a 72 Camaro when he started driving. The Vegas were gone by then.
  • In 1977 my brand new Impala was wrapped up by some drunk in a Ford. The Insurance Co.totalled it out and just as I was about to sink a big chunk of change($5500, yes; you could've gotten a new car for that in those days) on another new Impala, some nurse came up to me & asked if I knew someone who wanted to buy her 4 year old Vega. "Sure, I'll take it," I said, she wanted $50 bucks! Now, normally I wouldn't be caught dead in this rattle trap, but how bad could it be. It was lemon yellow to boot. I was surprised on how well it actually drove. the car only had about 50,000 mls on it,and I really liked it. It only needed tires. Six months later I moved up to New England, the car was parked and some drunk in an Olds wrapped it up so bad it spun around in the street. I got a grand from the Insurance Co.Oh well, only Vega I ever owned. Michael
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,555
    That's a great R.O.I.!

    Too bad you couldn't find another 50.00 car and another drunk!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    What is that, a 4000% return on investment annualized? But you're right, it'd be difficult to duplicate consistently unless you lived near an all-night 7-11.
  • "I think the Vega may be the worst car ever made in America in the last 100 years."

    Hmmmm......Actually the Vega was considered a fine-handling car for its time, and I think the styling was great. While the silicone-embedded aluminum block was a bust, you could get them sleeved and build them to hell and back, or install the engine of your choice. GM designed the engine compartment to accommodate just about any powerplant they could make (it was originally supposed to have a rotary), and small-block swaps were common. Don Yenko supplied V8 Vegas directly to dealers, and they were screamers.

    I had a '74 with a 327/350, turbo 400 and 50-series Goodyears, and I regularly beat up on a guy with a Vette who used to race me on the way home from work every day. The thing handled, and it went like stink. I rust-proofed the body, kept the winter salt washed off religiously, and had no problems with rust. It was truly one of my favorite cars.

    I honestly don't think GM's screw-up with the alumninum engine qualifies the Vega as the "worst car of all time" -- especially considering the unreliable British roadsters preferred by the author of that comment!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I'll pass on this comment from Brock Yates, made in the early '70s: "Apparently the Vega has replaced the Corvair as the car America prefers to break down in." The only thing those guys waiting for tow trucks needed was a completely different drivetrain ;).
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    after the engine blew and got a 64 Corvair. From there, he went to a Buick X-car, which gave him two transmission failures and an engine in less than 50,000 miles. From there? An Olds diesel. What more could one ask for from GM...
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    Damn, talk about bad luck! Looks like your friend purposely picked the worst of the GM lot! I have a neighbor who used to fix up and mess around with Corvairs, and then he moved on to Vegas, and now his thing is Chevy II's from the early 60's.

    The only GM lemon our family had was a 1982 Malibu station wagon with a 229 V6, but most of the cars we bought were mid-size and full-size, and at the time I don't think GM had found a way to really mess them up yet (other than putting a Diesel in them!).

    I have another friend who had both a Pinto and a Vega, and he said they were both pretty reliable. Better, in fact, than the 1994 Chrysler Concorde he's driving now! Not that the Concorde has really been a bad car, he just got lucky with the Pinto and Vega!

  • Number one the Vega needs help in the engine department. Small block swaps seem to be the answer. The stock aluminum engine was...well....not something you could see yourself driving 100,000 miles down the road (although there have been a few).
    The Pinto got a bad rap in the safety department. My solution is to build a "cage" around the gas tank or do that with a fuel cell.
    My dad had a pinto, a 71, he said it ran fine for him durring the gas crisis's, exept for burning a little oil. But if you see my username below, my second solution for the Pinto is also a small block transplant (302,351)
    Of course with these mods they wouldn't be stock but oh well too bad.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,371
    I think a 351 in a Pinto would make a scary car even scarier. It could just about handle the power it had stock. Serious brake and suspension mods would be in order, and by then you'd have $5,000 in a $250 car.

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  • b4zb4z Posts: 3,372
    Wasn't the monza built on the vega chassis. Why didn't the monza have the bad rap that the vega had? Different engine and no rust problems? The monza with the the small block chevy was quick for its day.
    Does anybody remember the monza mirage?
    The yugo gets my vote for worst car ever. Followed, i'm sure by the Pontiac Aztek because i feel like i have been assaulted just looking at the thing.
  • Delorean did an admirable job on the Cosworth Vega given the problems. It had some of the same features 25 years ago that some small cars have today.

    The Vega makes a decent drag car. They are real good you increase the wheel base by stretching the nose alittle.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,371
    Yes, the Vega body is really okay if you can find one that hasn't gone biodegradable on you said, the rust and the engine were the two biggest problems...other than that...(LOL).

    Too bad about the Cogsworth, but really, with such a bad name as "Vega" attached, the car would have been doomed even if it had a Ferrari engine in it. Still, it's an interesting collectible today for a low price. Not a great car, but interesting...

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  • stickguystickguy Posts: 24,958
    The Monza was based on the Vega, but I'm not sure how much they changed. I once looked at a used '75 (or so) Monza hatchback (this must have been around 1980). Silver hatchback, mag wheels, V8 w/a 4 speed stick. Real quick car, compared to my 6 cyl. Duster.

    I think it had a little rust on the drivers door, probably from a clogged drain. The mechanic who looked at it said it was overall in sound shape, but don't bring it to him for a tune up. This was one of the cars where they had to lift the engine to get to the rear spark plugs.

    I still would have bought it if the owner would have some down a little on price (seem to recall he was stuck on $1,900. Oh, the good old days).

    Better forget about the '75 Mustang II mach 1 that I saw for sale yesterday in someonw yard..The aftermarket (DIY?) hood scooped looked real cooool.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • lbthedoglbthedog Posts: 198
    Had a Vega. Wasn't a bad car. Sure it rusted but I took absolutely no care of it. I was happy as hell to drive around getting close to 30 mpg when gas was 35 cents a gallon. My friend who bought a Honda Civic at the time was another story. He read all the magazines about what a great car it was. It was for a short time. While my Vega ran and ran and ran and rusted and still ran, his Honda didn't, it broke and it rusted too. How time distorts the truth, the Japanese cars of the late sixties and early seventies were mostly trash. Some were fairly durable but most weren't. Guess the higher profile that the Vega got by carrying the Chevy emblem has hurt it's reputation over time but if those of you who endured the ownership of those early Hondas were to tell the truth, the car wasn't that good. Neither were the VW beetles of that era. How many ever got more than 50 thousand miles out of a motor? As bad as the Vega was, and many were, there were far worse vehicles of that time.
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