1974 Chevrolet Vega GT Kammback Survivor

Chevrolet offered three different versions of their small and somewhat sporty Vega station wagon: a Panel Express, without rear side windows, an Estate Wagon with woodgrain sides, and a Kammback as in this 1974 Chevrolet Vega GT Kammback. Disclaimer: the Panel Express didn’t come in a GT version. The seller has this little four-speed wagon listed here on Facebook Marketplace in North Branch, Minnesota and they’re asking $5,000. Here is the original listing.

The Vega was made from 1970 for the 1971 model year until 1977 in hatchback, notchback, and wagon form. I’m getting “that feeling” again which isn’t good, especially right before winter, which here in the upper Midwest is the worst time to buy a collector vehicle. Motorcycles are easy to store but cars, not so much. I don’t see too many flaws on the exterior of this Vega, other than that missing bottom right-front fender trim piece. A period Vega brochure lists that the GT cars had a black stripe towards the bottom but not all of them appear to have that so maybe it could be deleted. It’s a bummer to not see the optional passenger side mirror here, that is a must in 2022. The 1973 models may be the best, visually, with the original style egg crate grille and smaller bumpers.

The new-for-1974 bumpers aren’t eye candy for sure, especially when compared to the pre-5-mph bumpers. Not to mention that they added six inches to the length of this car. But, they are aluminum which was pretty rare at the time. If this car had the early, smaller bumpers, it would look so much better, in my opinion. I wonder if a person could change these big bumpers out to smaller bumpers? Do any of you have any experience with that on a Vega? I mean, I’m just wondering for general information purposes, it’s not like I’m going to buy this one or anything – as far as I know now. The GT version got stabilizer bars, nice mag wheels, and white-letter tires.

The interior looks fantastic in this car and there even appears to be a clear plastic cover on the bottom of the driver’s seat. The Napachi half-knit vinyl seats both front and rear look outstanding as does the rear cargo area. Being a GT, this car has full gauges and even a clock – that’s pert’near luxurious for a Vega and this isn’t even the really fancy Estate version. The optional Saginaw M20 four-speed manual is what you want here. A three-speed manual was standard and a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic was also optional.

There was an optional CB radio available and it appears to have a CB under the dash, next to what appears to be an add-on cigarette lighter. It says Audiovox on it. Wait, that’s exactly what it is as seen here in this eBay listing! This car has air-conditioning but the seller says that it needs a charge, which means that there’s a leak somewhere. A Vega with AC? Cool, literally. I wouldn’t want to put the extra strain on the engine so I’d probably not worry about the AC too much.

Speaking of the engine, this seller deserves a gold star for uploading such good photos, including an engine photo. This is Chevrolet’s 2.3-liter SOHC inline-four, which in the GT version, would have had 85 horsepower and 122 lb-ft of torque when new, a bit more than the non-GT Vega. This car has almost 100,000 miles on it so it isn’t a low-mile car by any means and the aluminum block and cast-iron head engine is legendary for having trouble. There is no word on how this one runs but if it runs as good as it looks, I’m in. Later engines had a “Dura-Built 140” with improved cooling and other features. Enough already, you can’t tell that I’m excited by this car, can you? Any thoughts on this Vega Kammback?

Comments

  1. Big C

    Swap in a Ford engine. And you’d have a nice little car.

    Like 7
    • Tom Farabee

      I drove a brand new 74 Mustang 2, and my dad had a new 73 Vega. The Mustang was a glorified pinto and far inferior to the Vega. Door handles braking off, transmission grinding, rear end going out, motor knocking. Vega ran great, and outlasted the Ford by miles and years.

      Like 1
      • Vegaman Dan

        Bits of each car are still desired today. The front suspension from the Mustang II, and the steering box from the Vega.

      • Big C

        You’re one of the few. Our new 74 Mustang II, V-6, hatchback had 175,000 miles on it, when I sold it, in 1990. My uncle had a ’73 Vega Kammback. Chevy replaced the first engine, and the POS rotted out before the new one ate itself. Round about 1976.

        Like 1
      • karl

        Said no one ever ! There wasn’t one bad engine the Mustang II could be equipped with , the rear and transmissions were fairly bulletproof . The Vega on the other hand was and still is known for terrible engineering ; until the Iron Duke arrived, the engines in Vegas were notorious for burning oil and having head gasket issues. The bodies are legendary for severe and premature rust . Its usually listed as the #1 worst car GM ever built . There a reason you see more Pintos (and the slightly related Mustang II) today then Vegas ; they were simply a lot better car . I’m a Chevy guy too, but you cant argue with the facts

        Like 4
  2. Pat L Member

    The listing reads SOLD. Did you add another vehicle to the collection Scotty? Looks like a pretty solid car for the money.

    Like 4
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      I absolutely, 100% would have gotten it if the seller would have gotten back to me, Pat! (not bitter) (ok, I am)

      I could not get a hold of the seller and I would have gotten it if he would have let me take a look at it. I couldn’t even sleep on Thursday night thinking about this car. He finally got back to me and said he was busy on Friday morning so he asked about Friday night. He wrote back a few hours later saying that he just sold it. Sigh, what a kick in the gut. I’m not a fan of facebook marketplace at all for that reason. There’s never a phone number so you’re at the mercy of someone getting back to you.

      Like 10
      • angliagt angliagt Member

        Scotty,

        You’re a sick man.

        I like that.

        Like 4
      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        Sorry to hear that, Scotty. I’ve also gotten the “I’m busy, I’ll get back to you” , or the “You can come to see it day after tomorrow” answer, only to find out that it’s been sold. It’s the seller playing games, not telling you that he already has a potential buyer and that you are 2nd, 3rd, or 4th in line.

        Like 6
  3. Vegaman Dan

    I would be pulling money out of the bank for this if local.

    The GT stripe in black on light body cars snd white on dark colors was not always done. Those that do also have a band across the rear tail light panel or hatch on wagons.

    The front fenders and headlight buckets are different between early and late Vega’s. While possible to mount the smaller bumpers on a late model, they ha weird gaps at the corners and stick out badly as a misfit. You can swap fenders, nose, and grill to an ear model though.

    I personally prefer the 74/75 style with the larger bumpers. They fit well with the horizontal slotted grill. Those foglamps would have to go though.

    Like 4
    • Tony Primo

      So you would keep the deer warning whistles mounted beside them?

      Like 2
      • Vegaman Dan

        What? That’s called *style*. Gotta ride cool, man Those whistles are where it’s at!

        Okay, yeah, those gotta go too.

  4. Paul L Windish

    We had a Kammback new back in ’74 with the 4 speed. It was a sporty little car, Wife got it in the divorce. If memory serves, there were tons of issues with the 4 cylinder aluminum engine, causing GM to scrap it and bring out the Iron Duke 4 cylinder iron cast block to replace the aluminum engine.

    Like 2
  5. Ed

    I was the service manager at a Chevrolet dealership back then and my wife loved Vegas so we bought a 1974 GT wagon like this one right down to the four-speed and A/C. It was metallic brown with saddle interior and did not have the black accent mentioned in this article.

    The A/C did strain the engine on steep hills but a downshift to third handled that. Ours never had the engine problems but that was because it’s cause was known by then – you couldn’t fill the cooling system completely without elevating the front end until the radiator cap was higher than the cylinder head. The factory filled them by “evacuating” the system like you charge air conditioning do the engine problems usually didn’t develop until after the 24,000-mile coolant change or a leak was repaired.

    We sold it in 1979 and my wife often says she wishes we still had it.

    Like 5
  6. Rw

    4.3 V6 with throttle body would be nice swap IMO

    • S Dean

      The 4.3 v6 was the worst engine I ever had. Bought a new S10 pickup in75, was on the 3rd engine by 108,000 mi.

      • S Dean

        Sorry, that should read 208,000 mi.

  7. Chuck Dickinson

    Strange that it’s a GT w/AC yet it was ordered with the standard flat woven-vinyl seats. The Custom interior cars had nicely contoured pleated vinyl seats nearly the same as the Camaros (which also used the same woven-vinyl for their std. interiors).

    Like 2
    • SDean

      I hate vinyl & leather. Hard on the backside.

  8. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    My favorite feature was the dash mounted analog GPS.

    Like 4
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Same here, first thing I noticed!

      • angliagt angliagt Member

        You mean the one above the CB radio?

  9. TL

    Had two GT wagons in college and they served me well. Add oil and roll on…

  10. chrlsful

    yup (nother chinese product; 20, 21 centuries ago).

    As usual I’ll say “There are many models the waggy looks better than the sedan.” so there I went again. Asa ‘ford guy’ I can go for this. Gotta keep the alu block/iron head even if just to show the concept (now avoided) can be used.

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