Chevrolet Vega



  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    The main benefit of the V6 seems to be that it gives extra displacement and smoothness to a car designed to accept a four.

    The advantages of the V6 over the I6 are that the lower height allows a lower hoodline, the shorter crank is less prone to flexing and the intake runners can be pretty much the same length for better air/fuel distribution.

    The differing runner lengths are really obvious on old American sixes with just one carb, and usually a crude one barrel at that. The Hyper Pak slant six was offered with a four barrel intake and Carter AFB that supposedly gave a ram tuning effect because the slanting block allowed enough room for long runners.

    Disadvantages of the V6 over the inline are less room for exhaust manifolding, and more machining (two heads and two banks of cylinders). Also the I6 is inherently balanced while the 90 degree V6s based on V8 tooling (Buick and Chevy) are prone to vibration problems because the power pulses are alternately 90 and 150 degrees. GM got around this with the split throw crank ("even fire") which evens out the power pulses to 120 degrees.

    60 degree V6s like the Capri and Citation are even firing and extremely compact, but supposedly their narrowness compromises intake manifold design--maybe it gives the runners sharper angles from the plenum to the port.

    Both Fords of England and Germany had their own 60 degree V6s in the '60s, and the one we saw in the Capri came from Germany. I think the Saab V4 was also a German Ford design.

    Little known fact: the first production American V6 was the GMC truck six that came out in 1960.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,393
    I'd heard about that. In fact, gotten into a debate with my uncle about it. I'd said that Buick was the first to make a V-6, and he'd said it was GMC. Did GMC's V-6 share anything with Buick's, or was it unique?

    Guess I'll have to go back and tell my uncle he was right! I'd just figured that GMC used the Buick V-6. After all, didn't they use some Pontiac V-8's in the 50's?
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    I don't know much about Jimmy sixes but since the Buick was based on the aluminum V8 I can't imagine that there'd be any shared components. That must have killed the bean counters.

    Yes, GMC used the Pontiac V8 in the late '50s, probably from '55-59. I know GMC used the '57 347 but I doubt they got the '58 370 and '59 389--that would have been a bit much.

    Before '55 they used larger displacement versions of the Chevy stovebolt, a 302 and I think a 270 among others.

    Speaking of GM trucks, the W engine (348 and 409) was originally designed for large trucks.

    None of these engines appeared in the Vega.
  • dweezildweezil Member Posts: 271
    [but before that....]The v-4 from Ford was designed here in the U.S for the Cardinal due to come out in 1962. Seeing that the market was going away from economy to power and luxury [and higher profits] Ford canned the program for the US and shipped it overseas. Sort of like the plans for the initial 49 Ford if I am not mistaken.
    My brother and his first wife took off across the country in a 75 Astre hatchback. I've still got pictures of the car with the windows sporting the phrases "Eat Me" and "Suckers" in shaving cream. They were headed to Tucson from Davenport Iowa and never made it; the car breaking down every 100 or so miles until they got to Colorado.
    He should NEVER have married a GIRL WITH A MOUSTACHE!!! Of course after the pickup they bought to get them to Tucson and the divorce and the NEW wife [a psycho and a hypochondriac but GORGEOUS!!!] he bought a YUGO!!!! [SHE got that in the divorce]. Thankfully he lives in New York and doesn't need a car or he'd probably be driving a Daewoo!!!!
    On another note: I have a question for you guys. Here's a little known fact: Cavaliers and Sunbirds did NOT use the same base 4 cylinder engine from early on in the J car story.What is the history of the 2.0 OHC used in the Sunbird through 94??? I am familiar with the 1.8 OHC. Saw a documentary about GM and a line worker claiming that "this 2.0 [on an over head conveyer belt]is the best engine we build." From the looks of the timing belt cover it was the OHC 2.0.Was this ohc 2.0 built here in the US? Was it an offshoot of the 1.8? I don't remember reading anything about the change.
    My first thought was:"It ain't built in the U.S. it's built in Brazil!!!" What a helluva thing to claim when you're making the case for GM's ability to compete with the Japanese!
    Someone out there KNOWS the story.
    This topic is an absolute SCREAM!!! I've seen TWO Astre Kammbacks and last year spied a showroom condition 71 Vega in that horrible butterscotch color....[of course I really want to upgrade from my white 99 Cavalier 2 door to the 2002 Alpine Green [read Avocado people!] 4 door, so I'm no judge.] but no rust anywhere.This is So.CA. though.Dave !-}
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,393
    Hey, I guess it's remotely related, since the Cavalier/Sunbird ultimately replaced the Monza and its offshoots. Anyways I just took a look in my auto encyclopedia, which unfortunately only goes up to 1989. Looks like for 1982, the Cavalier's first model year, it had a 1.8 (112 CID) engine with a 3.50 x 2.91 bore/stroke. For 1982, my book also lists the Sunbird (called J2000 back then) as having the same least the same dimensions. That engine's also listed as standard on the Firenza and Skyhawk. However, a larger 3.50x3.15 bore/stroke 121 is listed as an option for the Skyhawk/Firenza, and, more oddly, a 3.33x3.12 112 is listed as an option for the Skyhawk.

    I'm guessing that first 1.8 gave way to the more common 2.0 that seems to power most Cavaliers from the 80's. In turn, I think this engine was stroked again to make a 2.2 sometime in the early 90's, and became the base engine for Cavaliers, but also replaced the old Iron Duke in the larger Cutlass Ciera/Century.

    For 1983, I see a 109 listed, which shows a bore x stroke of 3.34 x 3.13. This book is kinda funny about rounding though, so I'm guessing that's the same 3.33 x 3.12. How they get the one with the larger dimensions to come out as a 109, and the one with the smaller dimensions a 112 is beyond me, though! This book does the same thing with the Olds smallblock. All of 'em, whether it's a 260, 307, 350, or 403 all have the same stroke. This book lists some of 'em at 3.38", some at 3.39". I looked it up somewhere on the web once, and it turns out it's actually 3.385". So I guess the Consumer Guide people need to go back to school and take lessons in rounding numbers!

    Anyway, back to the different 4-cyl engines... For 1987, I see a perfectly square 3.39 x 3.39 121 listed for the Sunbird, while the Cav carried on with the same 3.5x3.15 121. The Pontiac's engine could be a little kicker when turbocharged...165 hp. So I'm guessing that the 2.0 that came out for 1987 is some variant of the old Brazilian 1.8.

    Something else of interest I noticed...the Chevy 2.0 has the same bore x stroke as the old Cosworth Vega. Is it possible that Chevy just used an iron version of the old Vega block for the Cavalier? The CosVeg engine's listed as a 122, while the Cav's is a 121, but then there's that rounding thing again!
  • dweezildweezil Member Posts: 271
    I would hate to think they'd try to keep that engine alive in cast iron! But it did get good fuel economy, maybe they should have tried.
    That 1.8 Brazilian and then the 2.0 ohc one is such a mystery, just wonder if it was built here or sent from there for installation.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Your uncle was right. I don't know the evolutionary details of the GMC engine but I do know that it predated the Buick passenger car V6's and it did not look like the Buick engines. It was offered in GMC pickups for only a year or two, perhaps 1959-1960. There was no mistaking the sound of this engine for any of the V8's or inline-6's of the time. Apparently, not many were sold.
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Member Posts: 207
    GMC had 2 V6 engines in the bigger trucks in the early 60s; a 351 CID and a 401 CID. They also had a 702 CID V12 made of 2 351s.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Wow... Those were big sixes. I always considered the Hudson Hornet 6 to be big at 308 CID but that doesn't compare with these GM engines. Was it the 351 CID that was used in the GMC pickups? I must confess that I never heard of the twin V6 - in what type of truck was it used?
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Member Posts: 207
    The V12 was in some of the heavy duty GMCs in the late 50s and early 60s before diesels became popular. The 401 V6 was more popular, I guess the 12 was a real pig on gas. It was a whopping 250 net HP.

    The biggest gas 6 I've seen is the International Red Diamond 501. That was a HUGE inline 6.

    Here's a pic of the GMC V12:

  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    With 12 cylinders and 702 CID, we're just a little off the Chevy Vega topic - but thanks for the information. I believe a look at these valve covers shows this engine family to be unrelated to anything used in the Buick lineup.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Wow.....15 HP per THATS power!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,393
    if there was a feasible way to mate up two Pontiac 400's or 428's to make a V-16, and put the resulting monstrosity under the hood of a '69 or so Grand Prix. As much space as those things have under the hood, it looks like it'd fit!

    Then for real fun, we could try getting the resulting block in a Vega!
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Member Posts: 2,242
    ... but can you imagine the TORQUE that GMC put out!
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Member Posts: 207
    630 ft-lb @ 1600-1900 rpm.
  • lastvegaownerlastvegaowner Member Posts: 4
    If we can get back on the subject....
    I have what I believe to be the last Vega (non-Cosworth) in existence. Rarer than Bin Laden's head on a silver platter, I could almost say it's the last surviving, stock Vega hatchback in existence and I have to also say that my experience is quite different from most of the postings here. I've owned the car for 10 years and it was actually my first car and it's been passed down from my sister to my brother to my other brother, then finally me. It's mostly original and only partially restored and has cast iron sleeves, was rebuilt at 125,000 miles and has 135,000 miles on it today but looks brand new due to the new black paint job I just put on it about 3 months ago. With a black, show condition interior, tinted windows, sunroof, and fog lights, I have to say, it really is quite a beautiful car. It handles exceptionally well, especially on country roads and has the original 2.3L engine, 3 speed automatic, PS, PB, and a/c, however no belt so as to not cause the engine to overheat. Hey, I'm cautious-not stupid.
    Anyway, I'm very pleased with car and get a kick out of people's expressions when I take it out on the weekends. With white letter tires, and the Vega GT rims I got off our old GT Vega years ago, it looks quite menacing and I often have people want to "pick a fight" with me at the stoplight. Mine's a 77 model and it must be noted that Chevrolet came a long way in the 6 years the car was made by correcting many of the problems that the Vega had when it first came out in 71, such as the rusting and brake problems. (By the way, no rust on mine-ever).
    And please keep in mind that the Cosworth Vega really was a completely different animal with a different engine (16 valve, twin cam EFI, 2.0 l), different transmission, and different rear-end. The only thing the same was the block and the body. They were incredibly fast for their time (o-60 in 7.7 seconds) and they still have a very loyal following.
    Keep in mind the Vega was GM's first compact car and really gave the Japanese a run for their money. All I'm asking is to give the Vega more credit...and please don't compare it to the Pinto. That hurts the most.
  • avalanche325avalanche325 Member Posts: 116
    The fact that you probably do have the last Vega standing shows what a poor effort they were, considering that they were on the road in abundance in the 70s. I will admit the hatchback with the right color, wheels, etc. could make for a good looking little car. I will also give way to the fact that the engine was not too horrible with cast iron sleeves. It also handled pretty well since it was fairly low and wide.

    However, the facts are that the engine was lucky to make 30K miles without sleeves. The cars were also known to rust before even being sold.

    I had two of them. A 74 notchback and a 73 wagon. The 74 was a rust bucket and the engine went just after 30K (when I got the car for $50). Another engine from a junk yard and got about another 30K or so. The 73 was much better rust wise, but still had plenty for a car of its age. Again, the disposable engine was its weak point ($200 sans engine- 36k or so). My fathers gas station did business with a parts store that used Vegas for delivery cars. They also had a junk yard. I was allowed to have anything I wanted, including engines. It was unbelievable how many Vegas were in that junkyard in 1979. Technically, they were still fairly new cars.

    Yes, they did make changes, and the last year or two were probably not really bad cars. But overall, GM should be thoroughly embarrassed.

    I did see the last Pinto alive. Maybe you two could race? I don't ever remember losing to one.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,393's something interesting: according to my auto encyclopedia, a Cosworth Vega in 1975 had a base price of $5,916. In contrast, the cheapest Vega 2-door sedan based at $2,786. Further up the line, you could get a base V-8 Camaro for $3,685. Even a Corvette convertible only ran $6,537! $5,916 could get you a lot of car back in 1975, and evidently people wanted a lot more than what the Cosworth was offering.

    Keep in mind that back then, stuff like air conditioning, automatic tranny, etc was usually optional, so any of these would've been pretty stripped down. But still, my Mom bought a LeMans Sport Coupe brand new in '75, with a 350, automatic, a/c, am/fm, ps/pb, and it was only about $5,000!

    It might've been an interesting little car in its own right, but what did the Cos give you to justify more than double the price of a regular Vega? The little OHC engine put out about 111 hp, which sounds better than the Vega's standard 70 or so, and optional 84-87, but I'm sure the average buyer wanted more than that, if they were ready to cough up Corvette money for a Vega!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I can't honestly give the Vega any credit, but I can give YOU credit for keeping it up so well.
  • ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564 stepdad bought a 78 Sunbird brand new w/231 V6, cassette, alloys and air for about $6k. It seemed like big bucks at the time (previously, he had a $50 '69 Impala 4dr HT!).
  • lastvegaownerlastvegaowner Member Posts: 4
    Ok, Ok, I'll admit the Vega certainly had it's problems and that's not news. Maybe I have one of the better ones, but the real joy of having a Vega, especially today, is the fact that you can be assured that you have a one-of-a kind and you're almost guaranteed to not see another one out and about. Plus, it's a hobby to keep up and running and it's extremely easy to work on since there's very little, if any electronics. They were simple, cheap, fuel efficient, and styled quite nicely. Chevrolet's only error, in my mind, was the engine (aluminum block), but it was revolutionary and you have to give them that for trying. Directly from the Cosworth originated the very successful Quad-4 engine that is built in many new cars today. If Chevy offered an optional V-6 or V-8 with the Vega, there's no doubt you'd see one at every car show, but at least Chevy was thoughtful enough to let us do that, if we choose. The Vega was a learning experience for Chevrolet (and Engineers)and a piece of Americana. Like it or not, it's a sign of where we have been. Whether or not you liked the Vega, I know one thing all us guys can agree on- Any piece of American machinery that's 25 years old is pretty cool to have, regardless of what it is.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well, maybe not an Edsel. You have to run the risk of being associated with a car that is the butt of a lot of jokes. Some 25 year old American cars are better off in a scrapyard once their useful life is over. Let's not actually start restore mistakes. What's the point of that?

    Vega could have been a decent car. It was pretty nicely styled, but build quality was bad and engineering...well...we all know about that. Sort of like Delorean...a good idea gone terribly wrong.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Member Posts: 2,242
    Sorry, but the only thing a Quad4 and a Cosworth have in common is DOHC. The Quad4 is actually the last engine developed by Oldsmobile, and in spite of the problems with the early engines (cracked heads) the engine is a technical masterpiece. The 250Hp versions have not to date been released to production as the issue of transaxle durability comes into play. Both supercharged and turbocharged versions have been EPA certified.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    I had the Quad 4 and the early version was strong but rough. I know it's had a balance shaft for a while but big fours are usually shakers.
  • dweezildweezil Member Posts: 271
    That platform lived quite a bit longer than the Vega did with the various off shoots [Sunbird, Monza] being built for a few years after it's demise.
    I remember reading about a guy who made a pretty healthy side income at his shop putting in the steel cylinder liners on these engines.
    Your car sounds great, I know I'd love it. It's just strange enough, and contrary to popular opinion even the mistakes are fascinating and have their place in the hobby.There wouldn't be any Kaisers left to see and appreciate or Crosleys or even CORVAIRS if only those deemed most worthy [by whom?]were restored. Some other Vega fiend will want to pick your brain,Lastvega, and another newcomer to the hobby is born.
    It does no one any good to discourage participation in restoring old cars simply because the "experts" don't approve of the value of your choice.We do that and the hobby will die for lack of fresh blood, different cars,obscure skills and knowledge, ideas and opinions.
    You would think that someone could post on the VEGA FORUM without getting beaten about for having an interest in them and actually owning one!
    Because of the temperate weather here in LA, there are several Vegas still running around my neighborhood and even a Pontiac Astre.
    Perfect wheels for modern times: rare, economical, more interesting than driving a modern subcompact, easy to drive and park.A REALLY different daily driver.
  • lastvegaownerlastvegaowner Member Posts: 4
    Thanks Dweezl. My sentiments exactly. It may not win any awards at a car show, but people would love to to see an old Chevy still around that's not a Chevelle, Corvette, or Camaro. Variety's a good thing.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,393
    ...and my Mom was in the market for a new car, I wanted her to get a Monza! If any of y'all are up for a bit of nostalgia, every once in awhile, on the Game Show Network, Monty Hall gives away a "new" '76 or so Buick Skyhawk on "Let's make a Deal".

    What year did the Pontiac 2.5 come out? I thought it was 1977, and that it replaced the 2.3? Did the 2.3 carry on for a little while longer, though?
  • lastvegaownerlastvegaowner Member Posts: 4
    How's this for an interesting fact...

    Did you know that the first car ever given away on a game show was a blue, 1971 Vega station wagon on the Price Is Right?
  • stumack1stumack1 Member Posts: 56
    since the revival of "Price is Right" (then called "The New Price is Right") didn't premiere until September 1972.
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    Only after they got it home did they realize they should have gone for the other showcase.
    I was watching the game show network one day and they were running old Let's Make a Deals. It was kind of funny hearing what the prices were on the cars, full sized Chrysler's and Pontiac's in the $3000 to $4000 range. Then I thought that all those wonderful prizes that those people had won have all probably gone to the crusher or the dump.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    The concept, styling and suspension were very well regarded by the autmotive press at the time. The engine bay was designed to accept almost any engine GM made at the time, and in fact Don Yenko sold V8 Vegas through a number of Chevy dealerships. Wicked fast. I had a V8 Vega myself, but my buddy and I installed it ourselves with a kit from BlackJack.

    The rust thing seems to be more from a lack of fender liners than anything else -- the Gremlin suffered from the same problem. My 74 came loaded, and it had the fender liners. Never had a lick of trouble with rust, and I lived south of Detroit, so there was plenty of salt to contend with.

    I thought the car -- the 74 in particular -- was just a wonderfully proportioned little car, and with the fat 50-series Goodyears I put on it, it looked mean as a snake. It was silver taupe, with tinted windows.

    The Cosworth was a cluster** due to GM's usual lack of intestinal fortitude and sense of the market. It started out with 170 hp and ended up with 111. My V8, on the other hand, had 300. The only problem with those was you needed to slip the tires or you'd pull the rear end right out from under the car. A lot of guys put in a subframe. I just kept the tire size reasonable, and had no problems whatsoever.

    By the way, there is at least one more Vega in the world -- it's a V8 too, and I rolled up next to it in Torrance about a year ago. Sounded sweet, looked good. Got me all misty, it did!
  • stumack1stumack1 Member Posts: 56
    get a kick out of the game show "Gambit" which also gave away the "new Vega 2300 by Chevrolet!". Instead of an actual car, they showed a 1:24 promo model on a little turntable. I was a kid and it though it was the chintziest thing!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,393 watching "Let's Make a Deal", I remember they gave away a '75-76 Skyhawk with a 231 which, as equipped, had a suggested retail price of about $6,000. They also had a '76 Regal, same 231, with a suggested retail value of about $6000. One episode, they trotted out an Electra, of '75-76 vintage, which was valued at $8500.

    Those prices seem cheap nowadays, but I remember my Granddad telling me that when he retired in '75, he was making $6.00 an hour.

    Oh yeah, if anybody's interested, here's an inflation calculator...

    Plugging in some numbers, $6000 in 1976 comes out to about $18,738 today. $8500 comes out to $26,545. And $6.00 an hour comes out to $18.74 today. Seems like today, you get more small car for your money, but actually get LESS luxury car!

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,393
    I was watching "Let's Make a Deal" tonite (yes, I have no life), and they gave away a Vega station wagon. The funny part was the description..."New and improved engine design, undercoat protection" it's like they were admitting all the faults of the car right there on tv.

    And if that wasn't funny enough, up next was the tv show "Match Game", where they mentioned something about recalled Firestone tires. Only difference was, this was in the '70s'!!

    Oh yeah, and finally, "The Munsters". Herman was looking for a used car to get Marilyn. He was checking out a Beetle and made a comment like "I can tell a woman owned this car. She left her sewing machine in the trunk!"
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    I remember in the early '70s Firestone recalled their "Firestone 500" radials and replaced them with a brand new set of tires. Just before they did that a friend of mine had pulled a well used set of them from behind a tire store and put them on his car. When the recall came he ended up getting a new set of tires on his '67 Impala.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    Hmmm....was it silver? Could've been one by buddy built and sold about ten years ago.

    He put a built 327 in it. It was VERY fast and scared me so much I wouldn't ride in it!
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    Appeared to be a 72. Could still be your buddy's old car, though. And they were scary fast -- my turbo Rolla eats Mustangs like popcorn, but I was not about to choose him off.
  • ndancendance Member Posts: 323
    I've been around a few V8 Vega's and it really doesn't seem like too bad a use for one. A full cage makes an *enormous* difference in the way the car feels and is well worth the expense. The exception, from a practicality standpoint, are big block cars. I can't think of anything much scarier than an LS6 Vega. Funny thing that Motion Performance used to actually sell new ones.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    That's really over the top. Clumsy and heavy. A healthy smallblock is plenty.

    You're right about the subframes -- they really do help, although I kept my tire size reasonable so as not to worry about twisting the thing like a pretzel. I figured if I couldn't take my competition without a litle tire slip, it wasn't worth it -- there's always someone faster, no matter what you have. As a result, my car only cost about $1000 to upgrade to a smallblock, and the performance was startling, to say the least.
  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    ...a co-worker of mine at the Philadelphia Auto Show and he described his first car as a new 1973 Vega. He actually wanted a Toyota, but since his parents were paying , they wouldn't hear of it. The Toyota would've been a much better choice despite the fact its body would've disintegrated in two winters.

    Knowing this, I'm surprised he'd be at an auto show. Experiencing a Vega as my first car might've made me a car-hater for life.
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    The engine was crap, but the rest of the car was great. As I mentioned before, I had the fender liners, and had no problem whatsoever with rust. And with the addition of an IECO sleeved block with a few judiciious upgrades, the car was a screamer. Or simply drop in a small-block as I and many others did (the car was designed to accept it, so it was no big deal). And the styling was best in class -- sleek, sporty and classic, in the Chevy idiom.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,393 bad a rap as the Vega gets, just about everybody I know who had one loved 'em! When I was a kid, one of the neighbors used to hotrod them. I forget what he did...probably just threw 350's in them. That was his answer for everything. He had an old Model A sedan delivery with a 350, a '57 Chevy with a 350, and even an old Willy's Jeep with a 350!

    A friend of mine in one of my Mopar clubs used to have one, and I think the only problem he had was having to have one cylinder sleeved. Back when I was a kid, I'll admit that I used to think they were cheap, nasty little cars, but I can appreciate their style now, kind of like a baby Camaro. But then, I remember when my Mom wanted to get a new car in 1980, I was pushing for her to get a Monza! Shows how much I knew as a kid!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Ah, well, time heals a lot of wounds, but let's just say the owners at the time weren't a happy lot. Remember, they bought a new car and weren't about to go modifying them to work properly.

    But that's true, no car is ALL bad.
  • egkelly1egkelly1 Member Posts: 30
    I had a 1975 Vega-which was a pretty good car-I racked up 87,000 miles before the engine crapped out. A $800.00 rebuild (steel cylinder sleeves) mad it brand new! The car finally rusted out after 10 years. The only really bad problem with the Vega-SEVERE axle hop under braking/decelleration! The rear end would jump like a jackrabbit, until I installed some variable-rate shocks in the rear. Once again, a basically good design that GM could have fixed easily!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You make a good point. We can see from the posts that the car needed further development.

    It's not a great idea to have your customers do your R&D for you (although Microsoft gets away with it, I guess :)
  • badtoybadtoy Member Posts: 343
    Of course, if the Vega was the only car available, GM could get away with it too! +O)
  • cgsangelcgsangel Member Posts: 79
    I learned bodywork on my brand new Vega because of the rust! The first thing to go was the bottoms of the front fenders. Then the bottoms of both doors. I tried to slow it down by keeping the drain plugs open, but that wasn't where the rust was coming from. It was along all the weld lines.

    Then the rust crept along the fenders, around the wheel wells. This was all within the first year! I mean, I had the greatest paint job though... a pretty blue, unfortunately I couldn't find enough touch up paint, so what I did was two-tone the car where I patched it (the bottom six inches along the rocker panel, from wheel to wheel.

    The oddest rust spot was inside the car... below the windshield, in the dash! I could drive in winter without the defrosters on! The air flowing through actually was clearing the fog from my windshield. This is the only car that this ever happened to! I also had rust around both the windshield and rear window frames too.

    I've already mentioned the engine and rear wheel hop like so many others have before me. I never had a car that could dance over a wash board road like my Vega could!

    I will stop now.... it's bringing back all the memories. This was my first new car (1973) after that I got used ones up until 1986. I figured if I had an old rustbucket, I was getting what I paid for. I will add positive comments in my next post.

  • cgsangelcgsangel Member Posts: 79
    I still wish that Chevy could bring back the design of the Vega... especially what they called the notchback. That's the model I owned from 1973 to 1978. The 4 speed stick was decent, although I never could get it by 2nd without a clunk. That was after they fixed the problem getting it into 1st. The synchromesh didn't work on delivery, but they fixed that under warranty. The 3 speed stick in my sister's Vega took any fun out of driving it. At least the 4 speed wasn't a bad driving experience.

    Let's see, I've covered the design and the transmission... hmmmm... what else was good? Give me time... I'm thinking (back to the 70's)... I mentioned the paint, right?

  • ab348ab348 Member Posts: 18,189
    Wow, what memories. They were troubled cars though I liked the style of them. It was just a star-crossed car, I think. The workers at the Lordstown assembly plant were at war with GM and that really hurt the build quality. But then again, there were so many other problems... the rusties, the engine block material, etc. I even remember reading in Consumer Reports back in the day about a woman who laid her cigarette in the ashtray, and set the dash pad on fire. Heck, back in the late 80's my secretary had a Monza, and it spontaneously combusted in her driveway one morning (short in the steering column wiring).

    Collectible Automobile did an article a while back where they mentioned some of the problems. The aluminum block was very porous and they had to take many steps to overcome that, which complicated production and added cost. In the early prototypes, the body metal was so thin that the bodies buckled and one broke in half on the belgian block test track. Engine bore-scuff was common, and the factory remedy was to treat the bores with oven cleaner. The valve stem seals were poor, and caused a big oil consumption problem.

    They also talked about engine vibration causing the carb screws to loosen, which in turn let raw gas into the exhaust system where it exploded and blew out the muffler. A tiny cooling system let overheating occur if not properly maintained. In addition, there was an oil pressure cutoff switch, which meant that the engine would be shut down if oil level and pressure dropped below a certain level. With the oil consumption problems, many owners thought they had a dead engine when in reality they were just low on oil. Throw in a couple of quarts of oil, and presto, it lived!

    2017 Cadillac ATS Performance Premium 3.6

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