Carbed Cosworth: 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega

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These cars are sometimes hit or miss as to whether they go over with readers, or with collectors. This is a 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega and it’s in Reading, Pennsylvania. It’s listed on eBay with a current bid of $1,775 but the reserve isn’t met. There is no Buy It Now price. This car has been in “storage since 1985” so you’ll need to go through it with a fine-toothed comb before you take it out on the road. This car should be worth between $5,200 and $15,600, depending on condition; according to Hagerty.

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Chevrolet made these cars for only two years, 1975 and 1976. Only 3,508 Cosworth Vegas were made, that’s a pretty limited number and in looking at the amount of restoration work that this car needs and the money involved with that, it’s probably understandable where some folks would think that this car is a bust. But, almost any full restoration is more a labor of love than a money-making venture. Speaking of money, the original dealer invoice price for this particular car was $6,206.90. Cosworth Vegas typically sold for around $900 below the price of a new Corvette. I’d much rather have a perfect Cosworth Vega than a perfect 1975-’76 Corvette, but that’s just me.

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It may be more a case of the car that this special engine is attached to that gives this car such a low thumbs-up rating among car guys and gals: the Chevrolet Vega. The Vega is a car that more often than not is the butt of a million jokes and certainly has more detractors than fans. Or, maybe it’s always just the detractors who let themselves be known, that’s probably the case; the squeaky-wheel syndrome. Speaking of wheels, here’s where the spare tire goes, under the way-too-new-looking cover below the hatchback floor.

The seller says that the “body and floors are solid” but the whole car will need to be painted, at least if you’d go the restoration route; maybe not if you’re turning it into a driver. I might want to pull the engine and do a full respray in there, too. The body will need a little massaging, but I know that mine would, too, after not being used for three decades.

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The white interior looks good to my eye, a weekend of cleaning and detailing and you’d be in business. Although, maybe not, the seller says that the white, “perforated vinyl interior, upholstery is nice, plastic interior trim is brittle and deteriorated.” Not to mention that the factory “AM/FM radio and some dash gauges are not working.” Bummer. Hopefully you can find replacements for those trim pieces and get the gauges working again. This car has a 4-speed manual; a 5-speed was available in the 1976 Cosworth Vega.

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Here’s where you’d want to spend a few weekends, tinkering with this modified engine. As if a Chevrolet aluminum-block and a Cosworth Engineering DOHC, 4-valve head wasn’t enough modification, someone took off the original Bosch fuel injection (it comes with the car) and put on “Hutton dual Weber 42 DCOE (Italian) side draft carburetors & intake manifolds.” There’s something cool about multiple-carbs on a car, I love that look. But, being a purist by nature, I’d rather have the original fuel-injection restored and reconnected. I’m assuming there was a problem with it and that’s why the carb setup went on back in 1977, just two years after the car came out of the factory! With only 110 on tap it was good for 0-60 in around 9 seconds; not fast by today’s means, but on par with a lot of cars, even V8s, of the same era. I could go either way on this car, get everything working great and drive it, or do a total restoration. With not many of these cars being left, I would lean towards the latter. Is this a car that you would restore or just get it working and drive it?

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Comments

  1. Glen

    I’d leave the engine setup the way it is, and get the bodywork cleaned up, then enjoy it.

  2. Healeydays

    Why buy this one when there is another one on Ebay with only 13,000 miles?
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Chevrolet-Other-/142001755250

    • DA

      There is a significant price difference.

    • Scotty G Staff

      That’s a beauty, Healeydays! I’m guessing that it’ll go for $1 per mile, or more?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Actually, that one was submitted as well, I’m writing it up now :-)

  3. JW

    Ditto !!!

  4. p

    I remember the ad…..

    Cosworth.

    One average for the Price of Two.

  5. Van

    I wanted to put that engine in a spitfire.
    I betting it would be fast if it didn’t break.

    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      Van it is hardly worth the effort, this motors were anemic, by the time the Feds got their Regs applied. A Lampredi would give MUCH better performance

  6. Vince Habel

    We had one at our dealership in 76. I was not impressed with it.

  7. Dave Wright

    Being a GM and European car guy, these were always disappointing. Nice clean little body, better built than a common Ford but just underwhelming, I bet rebuilt with some performance upgrades and proper modern brake/suspension upgrade today, they would run………

  8. Ed Faille

    Pennsylvania is all that needs to be said. In other words Pennsylvania = RUST!

  9. Vegas Vic

    Sweet seventies ride
    Great styling
    Some exclusively sold
    Solid Chevy

  10. Dolphin Member

    I was impressed by the handling of the Vega when they were new. The standard cars weren’t very fast but they cornered pretty flat and handled better than most other cars on the road, US-made or not….in some cases way better.

    The problem was lots of NVH. They were unrefined and felt and sounded tinny, even if they weren’t. But that said, I’d like to drive this car because I’m guessing it’s very peppy and could be a good performer for the money.

  11. Tirefriar

    Man, I dig the Cosworth Vega. It’s definitely on my list of “to do” cars. Thanks for posting this, Jesse.

  12. Rando

    Was the bolck sleeved? The original aluminum blocks were awful for scoring and then the motor went to crap. Sleeved blocks were the way to go. I had a couple of Vegas. One had the factory aluminum block. You cleaned and changed the plugs daily – oil fouled. You could NOT keep up with the oil loss. I just ran it with the oil light on. it would finally go off about 35 mph. And the car ran and ran. Plugs, gas, and oil. I was 18 and had nothing better to do with my car. Good looking car, handled reasonably. Started everytime. Only broke down once, when a plug blew out. Actually the ceramic blew out of the base. Change the plug and on my way again.

    I later bought a wagon with a sleeved block to put in the hatch. Then found the hatch has TONS of bondo. It had been done well – the car was very straight looking. But the bondo gave up and started cracking and a chunk fell out, showing me how bad it really was. So I gave up on Vegas. Traded the wagon back to seller and sold the hatch.

    I was young. We all have to learn, right?

  13. Slim Chance

    Let’s stop kidding ourselves and those who are too young to remember this fiasco.

    Junk when new. In 41 years nothing has changed.
    Grumpy Jenkins had the only Vega that ran properly.

  14. Keefer Zeller

    My first car was a 1971 Vega 3 speed. Needless to say, it wasn’t a Cosworth. I put a quart of oil in every tank of gas. Motor Honey, STP, you name it, nothing would stop the oil burning. I knew it was a problem before I bought it but it was 1975, the car was only 4 years old and I was 16. I thought it was cool to have such a “new” car for my first car. I dreamed of dropping a V8 in it but eventually the engine just died and it sat in my driveway for a few months until I got my ’66 GTO! I was a fast learner.

  15. Jay Reynolds

    A Vega was the first car I owned when I was 16. It was very educational. After pulling and rebuilding the engine 3 times I became quite good at it. Should have dropped a small block in and been done with it.

  16. Tyler

    I know they were less than great cars, even for the time. But I still want a Cosworth Vega as well as a 78 King Cobra.

  17. Dick

    Those Weber 42s are pretty rare. Inexpensive compared to 40s and 45s when they came out but expensive now. They take the same innerds as 45s. Put the injection back on and sell the carbs.

  18. Charles

    Bought a used 1973 Vega wagon with 10,000 miles. Burn minimal oil until it hit 30,000 miles. After the 30k miles, it was burned oil like it was going out of style! Sold it soon afterwards. Was a shame as I liked the car, had very few problems, handled nicely, comfortable ride, decent mpg, etc., but could not pass up a quart of oil after 30k miles!

  19. moosie Craig

    In a previous life I worked in the parts department of Driscoll Chevrolet / Jim Smith Chevrolet in Spring Valley New York. We sold a Cosworth Vega and when Anchor Clanker delivered the car the buyer was proudly there with a trailer to take it home. I wonder often where that Vega is today.

  20. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    The manufacturing process (or rather lack of it) is the primary reason that Vegas were so prone to rust.

  21. Scotty G Staff

    Auction update: this car was not sold with a high bid of $4,600.

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