American Sports Sedan: 1975 Cosworth Vega

If the 91 mile Cosworth Vega from the other day was a little too rich for you, then may we suggest this one instead? It has covered 36k miles and is in excellent condition, but is less than half the price! Some may scoff at the fact that it’s a Vega, but that’s just because they don’t understand how special these cars really are. They are underappreciated and I predict that they will be going up in value soon. This one is located in Bucyrus, Ohio and is listed here on eBay for $15k obo.

Vegas weren’t the most loved cars ever built so what’s all the fuss about this one? Well, let’s start with the engine. It was designed by Cosworth and although it wasn’t as potent as originally intended (emissions and manufacturing requirements tamed things down a bit), it’s still a little masterpiece. Dual overhead cams, electronic fuel injection, and trick headers make this thing more race than econo.

Inside you will find more special touches that are unique to the Cosworth. After seeing that metal turned dash, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that John DeLorean had a hand in this machine’s creation. Just compare it to that found in the GTO or Trans Am! This car isn’t about looks though. The 4-speed transmission, Positraction rear end, and upgraded suspension prove that this thing meant business.

The Cosworth Vega was designed to compete with Europe’s finest sports sedans. That may sound strange, but just compare it to an Alfa Romeo GTV or BMW 2002 Tii. Small four-seat body? Check! Twin cam engine? Check! Fuel injection? Check! Sport-tuned suspension? Check! It may have arrived too late though. The GTV and Tii were already gone and new emission rules made things tough so only around 3,500 were built. That makes them exclusive today though. This could be the perfect car for the guy who wants something American, but that drives more like a European sports car!

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Comments

  1. rdc

    I almost considered a Cosworth back in the day. I recommended a Vega to a co-worker. Had to live that one down. 🙂

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  2. Tirefriar

    Cosworth Vega is my bucket list car, but I’m not sure I’m ready to give up my W208 CLK55 for it. Still, this car is a good deal provided. Being a ’75 it’s perfect for California’s smog exemption status but the 4speed is a bit a downer. 5 speed came in the 76 model, which by the way IS subject to smog. I also happen to like ’74 styling over ’75, although the first gen open grille are my favorite. I’d love stuff a Cosworth engine and entire set up into a gen 1 wagon….

    I’m on the fence about f.i. It’s really the same argument I used to deal with when I owned Alfas. Many SPICA cars were converted to side drafts. At the beginning I was also in favor of conversion. My ’79 Spider had dual weber side drafts, wouldn’t pass smog and drank gas like it was going out of of style, but ran strong and sounded great (those that heard all venturis open at full throttle know what I’m talking about). However, all it took for me was one ride in the properly set up SPICA car and I was all done with carburation. I wonder if this would be the case here. Side drafts do look cool though…

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    • Pablo

      Hutton Motor Engineering sold a dual Weber setup. As I recall, it was only an intake and the carbs. It brought the HP from 110 to something like 150-170. I think people got 200 HP if they changed cams, etc. Engine was designed for power, but essentially got detuned for smog more and more as it reached production.

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  3. Gunner

    The 3508 were for both 75 & 76. I have always loved the Cosworth. A lot of research went into these cars in so many different ways. Ever one of those engines were handbuilt, which was 5000. It is sad to know that they disassembled about 500, and scrapped the remaining 1000. These cars are undervalued IMHO. This one is very clean and orginial, complete with the numbered plaque on the dash. The black and gold theme really works on this Cosworth. You can park it in my garage anytime. My wife will understand. 😉

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  4. steve m

    I had a chance to buy two of them for 5k in Orlando back in the mid ’90s, both were near perfect….wow the shit you learn over the years. It was a very advanced head design in a production car for the time, what could be done with this engine and modern technology? Porting, new cam grind, Fuel injection, toughen up the bottom end, piston/rod/displacement change?????? 250hp????? Im guessing. Interested in others thoughts.

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    • Dutch 1960

      From reading the development history of the engine, Cosworth wanted to run a very high compression ratio (11 to 1?), but the car could not pass emissions, longevity, or fuel requirements with such a set-up. GM made them reduce the compression ratio by steps, to the point where it was in the 8’s. That seems to be a major element of the horsepower loss, from high 100’s to low 100’s.

      So if I were going after this thing, I would start by going back to Cosworth’s starting point on the engine. After all, they were the experts on such things.

      Keep in mind that an engine like that would demand to be driven in the high end of the rev range to get the power out of it, so doing it right would mean screaming around, downshifting early and up shifting late. Sounds like a lot of fun but maybe not much of a daily driver thing to do.

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  5. Tyrone Shoelaces

    Drove one of these back in the day, it was #1278, and it was quite the car, People didn’t accept it because it “was a Vega”…their loss. On the street it would pull like a small block and would make believers out of many who doubted it, and then come back for more. Drove it down to The Street Machine Nationals in Tulsa in ’75 or ’76…what fun memories.

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  6. angliagt

    A buddy & I went down to a Chevy dealer in Fortuna,CA,
    about 20 miles South of here,to look at one in the showroom.It
    was the only one ever sold new around here,& we were impressed
    with what we could see,from outside (it was at night,when the
    dealer was closed.

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  7. Matt

    Beautiful car, but for God’s sake, lose the cheesy used car lot “75” sticker on the windshield.

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  8. Bingo

    I’m glad the thumbs are gone for the downers that I would be getting for this comment but here goes:

    For decades I’ve been collecting v8 Vega and Coswoth information. I was even in the CVOA for a spell but I always wanted to build a v8 Cosworth. Make it an extremely factory looking car under the hood. No chrome, Edelbrock, Holley etc. The Cosworths were never rusty or beat up and would be a good palat for a v8. Of course I’d keep all of the parts to put it back to the true original specs.

    Sorry BFrs that’s my dream.

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    • Tom Member

      Great car here and these are great cars too but make no mistake, the VEGA was on the top 5 or 10 rust problem cars of all time. They were rusting at the dealership with the sticker in the window. If the car was in the Midwest with road salt = beginning of the end guaranteed. As the pioneer Ziebart dealer here in Chicago in 1964 we know a little about rust. We also owned a Vega Panel Truck which was pretty cool, for a Vega. I believe, could be wrong, but the metal used in the Vega was either recycled metal or some other issue about the metal which created most of the rust and corrosion problems these cars had.

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    • Loco Mikado

      Here goes

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  9. rmward194

    Nice looking car! It sold at Mecum in Harrisburg last year for $7,150. That was a deal!

    https://www.mecum.com/lots/PA0716-247733/1975-chevrolet-cosworth-vega/

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  10. dirtyharry

    The thumbs or feedback made this site a lot more fun and interesting. No one should have cared so much about what people thought, that it became necessary to drop them entirely. I follow my passions and don’t give a flying rat’s ass if it was up or down. I hope you build your Vega.

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    • Bingo

      Dirtyharry:

      It was tongue and cheek. I love the feedback also and quite frankly am disappointed that the Barnfinds staff is using “a server issue” as an excuse for no feedback available.

      Barnfinds, we’re not that stupid!

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      • Jesse Jesse Staff

        It wasn’t an excuse Bingo. The plugin we were using had old code that caused errors when we updated php.

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  11. Tirefriar

    I wonder what the weight difference is between a Cosworth engine and the SBC lump? Increased weight upfront will effectively kill handling of the Cosworth. Plus one cannot avoid irresponsible mods if one is to build a proper SBC Vega with respectable power and torque output.

    A properly set up V8 Vega requires a rear subframe to keep the torque from ripping out the rear end. It effectively would make a Vega a straight line sling shot, and the drag strip is where these ended up anyway. I guess one can argue the factory option of the 350 or the more powerful 305 in the Monza but that engines developed a whopping 125 hp and 145 hp respectively, so no massive torque stress to the rear crossmember. Even so, GM still adopted the rear suspension from the Cosworth Vega to handle increased torque.

    Assuming the reason for an SBC under the hood is much higher torque (and HP), then significant rear structural modifications will be required unless you want to face a serious risk of the rear end ripping off its mounts during a spirited take off.

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  12. Dave at OldSchool Restorations Dave at OldSchool Restorations Member

    I’ve had two… a clean ’75 4 speed was no more fun to drive than a similar MGB … the nice ’76 with a 5 speed was a little better as a Tourer, but no great handling, and no where near as much fun to drive as my Honda Prelude 4WS

    . not desirable when new…
    ……………. and now collectible, but not “desirable ‘ , if you like to DRIVE

    That said, this is a nice example, and in the right price range, as they are slowly increasing in collector value.

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  13. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    As I’ve said before, I thought the Vega handled very well for a ’70s No American car. But the NVH was just too much.

    Maybe a V8 might make a Vega / Vega Cosworth a car to own as discussed above, but it would need to be something like a 3.5 GM/Rover aluminum to work, and leave the Edelbrock etc stuff off. What that might get you is both performance and less NVH, since it’s likely that a lot of that was due to the econo 4-cylinder that the car was born with.

    But the bottom line is, unless you need to have a Vega, there are just so many better driving cars out there for the same or less money that it just doesn’t make much sense. MAYBE if someone has already done it and is selling for reasonable money……and if the V8 really does cut the NVH back to tolerable levels, and if the drivetrain remains intact, etc…

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    • Tirefriar

      I’d argue that the stock Vega handled like crap. Even with a inline 4 aluminum block it tended to fishtail. That seemed to be the bain of a lot of American sport coupes (I used that term loosely when applied to a Vega). At least both the ’74 Vega and ’73 Ford Mustang loved to wrap themselves around during braking in the wet.

      Dolphin, you are correct that there are many better cars to have at this price (I drive one of them) but the Cosworth Vega is something special to me…

      NVH is really the least of my concerns when it comes to cars, and it’s certainly not even in the thoughts of those dropping SBC’s into Vegas…

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  14. Vintageracer

    Always amazes me when people put $2.00 tires on a car they want to sell for $15K!

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  15. John

    It’s hard to imagine that I would ever have seen a Cosworth Vega compared to an Alfa GTV. While this cool little motor has all the right adjectives — twin-cam, fuel-injection, etc. — it’s still attached to a Vega. One of those cars with plastic grills that warped and bumper fillers that were different color from the rest of the car. There is nothing that would ever be able to put a Vega into the same class as an Alfa GTV. We all had high hopes that it would be something special back in the day. But it was really just a Vega, it’s neat little twin-cam notwithstanding. I owned a Vega wagon, and then, I owned this car’s twin. I actually bought two Vegas. I still can’t believe I did that.

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    • Jesse Jesse Staff

      I don’t know John. I’ve owned a GTV and it had its fair share of problems. It’s possible that it was even more rust prone than the Vega too.

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      • Tirefriar

        Jesse, you didn’t just hint that a Vega is similar to a GTV, or did you? Vega is not even in the same global garage as the GTV, no matter what year. Soviet, ahem, Italian steel was known for its susceptibility to rust. There were ARs that had sat on docs during dock worker strikes and would have rust by the time they would hit show room floor. Everything else about them was great. I never owned a Giulia GT or a GTV, mainly Spiders and Berlinas plus a short stint with a 164. These were some of the most reliable cars I’ve owned which never left me by the side of the road. I also happened to own a ’74 Vega which I bought used and sold after a few years. Maybe I had a premonition but the person who bought the car from me with about 65k miles on the clock burned a hole in the block a short time after buying the car. There’s no way, no how an Alfa can even be remotely compared to anything The domestic trio put out in the ’70s and ’80s.

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  16. Moparman

    I learned to drive a manual in a 3 speed 71 Vega, and I still like then today. I’d remove the horrid window tint, try to locate a pair of the rare swing out rear windows, and be happy! I like the tail lights on these better than the fake “tri-color” ones! 🙂

    BTW: My daily driver is a 5 speed Honda, I still enjoy driving stick! 🙂

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  17. Tyler

    A Cosworth Vega is on my bucket list also, but the decent ones are inching their way out of my budget. Back in the 90’s, friend of mine had both a 75 & a 76. The 76 was original, the 75 had been converted to Webers, but he had gotten the original fuel injection system with the car. They were both great running cars, & handled quite nicely, probably better than any other car of that era I have driven. But both of the cars suffered from typical Vegarustitis compounded by all the road salt used during the several harsh winters we had in the late 70’s.

    If these cars were introduced today, they would probably be hot sellers. The as envisioned engine would certainly benefit from current technology, or substitute in a 275hp turbo charged Ecotec from the Camaro or CTS, & you would have a hot little compact car, especially if they built it as a front engine/rwd vehicle.

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    • steve m

      BMW did it with the 135i

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  18. Duaney

    Yes, the earlier H bodies (Vega) rusted, but GM did respond, and by 1975 and through the last 1980 H body, considerable anti-rust measures kept the H bodies fairly rust free, and in comparison to say, the 1975-76 Cadillac, the H body was much more impervious to rust. With over 3000 cars in my wrecking yard, you can look at the Vega’s and Monza’s with no rust, and then look at the Cadillac rust buckets. Go figure.

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  19. Joe Howell

    I really like it, great eye appeal, but then again I had two Vegas. One was a base 72 purchased new and 3 years later used a 73GT after I totaled my 68 Corvette. I think these cars are real head turners and under appreciated. Too bad SMOG crap crippled them so . The similar but larger 3 liter DOHC 16 valve 10.9 compression ratio 4 cylinder in my 1989 Porsche 944S2 produces 211 horsepower, the smaller 2.5 liter “S” version put out 190 . So De-smogged and with 200+ HP as conceived in a well balanced chassis these Vegas could have been a really fun little car.

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  20. Dave at OldSchool Restorations Dave at OldSchool Restorations Member

    .. Haha… before we get to gushy about these cars because of the Cosworth ‘connection, those of us in 1974, who waited patiently for many months were totally unimpressed that the car when it hit the Dealers, could not get to sixty in less than 10 1/2 seconds… while a lowly Fiat could do it in 8 1/4 and the scorned Lotus Éclat in less than 7……… AND…when they hit the SCCA race tracks they were an embarrassment ….
    I speak from experiencing ownership of 2 Cosworths Vegas, race a Fiat Spider and own a Lotus Eclat, and not just from what someone told me, or what I have read…It wasn’t because of rust that they sat on showroom floors, it was a total lack of performance.
    0-60 in well over 10 seconds in NOT performance, even back in 1976, and the handling was mediocre at best

    as a novelty to collectors they have value… as a “driver’s” car, not so much.

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