1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega With 529 Miles!

That heading is not wrong, nor is it a typo. This 1976 Cosworth Vega really does only have 529 genuine miles on the odometer, which equates to a staggeringly low 12.3 miles traveled each year. Barn Finder Pat L referred this astonishing car to us, so thank you for that Pat. The Cosworth is located in Cumming, Georgia, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking a not-insignificant $20,000 for this low-mileage classic.

The Vega in original form is a much-maligned vehicle. Chevrolet produced the car in response to a great many factors, not the least of these being the need to produce cars with lower emissions and reasonable fuel economy. The fact was that reliability and longevity were not the Vega’s strong suit, but the Cosworth was designed to inject some excitement into the mix. If you are going to do this, then appearance is not a bad starting point. The black and gold color combination is very reminiscent of the JPS Lotus Formula 1 cars and is a pretty striking look. I would love to know why someone would buy a car like this and then park it for so many years. Maybe the owner was speculating that values would increase dramatically. If that is the case, then they missed the boat a bit on that one. The original sticker price on a Cosworth Vega back in 1976 was a cool $6,200. If we convert that to current values, then this car would have cost the equivalent of around $28,000 today. As a long-term investment that is now for sale for $20,000, I think that they got it wrong. Anyway, it appears that wherever this Cosworth has spent the last 43-years has provided it with a pretty favorable environment, because there isn’t a lot that can be faulted with this car. Having said that, some clearer photos would be nice when someone is attempting to sell a car at what would be considered to be a premium price.

As you would expect from an original car with such low mileage, the interior of the Vega presents perfectly. The gold, machine-turned gauge cluster is spotlessly clean, and there isn’t a mark or blemish to be found anywhere. There have been no aftermarket additions made inside the car, and I really believe that the owner purchased the car as an investment, rather than as a driver. One of the few pieces of optional equipment available on a Cosworth Vega was a radio/8-track player, and the owner chose not to specify this. That makes me think that he was looking at this car as a “buy and store” proposition.

All of the hype surrounding the Cosworth Vega really surrounded that one word: “Cosworth.” That company weaved its magic on the Vega, and the differences were profound. In a standard Vega, the best that you could hope for in 1976 was to find 84hp at your disposal. The 1,994cc DOHC Cosworth engine delivered 110hp. The result was that the Cosworth could sprint from 0-60mph a staggering 4 seconds faster than a standard Vega, and would rip through the ¼ mile a full 2 seconds faster. Just because this Vega has such low mileage doesn’t mean that the next owner is going to potentially be faced with a mountain of work before the car is fit to hit the streets again. The gas tank and fuel system have all been flushed, new fuel pumps have been fitted, along with new soft hoses, and the car has been given a full service and a new battery. Otherwise, everything is exactly as it was when the car left the factory. The result is that the car now runs, although I would probably be inclined to give everything a thorough check and replace the original tires before I drove the car any distance.

I’ll stick my neck out here and say that I believe that this is probably the lowest-mileage Cosworth Vega in existence today. If it isn’t, it certainly isn’t going to be far off the mark. We’ve seen situations like this in the past here at Barn Finds, and it is cars like this one that tends to spark some pretty healthy debate. One of the major factors that contribute to this car’s value is its low mileage. That means that every mile accumulated is now going to potentially have a negative impact on the car’s long-term value. Do you buy a car like this to merely look at, or do you buy a car like this to drive it as the manufacturer intended? At $20,000, this is not a cheap Cosworth Vega, but the price is not unprecedented either. I have found examples with slightly higher mileage that have sold in the past 12-months for around the same price as this one, which would suggest that the price isn’t outrageously high. Good examples have also been increasing in value over the past year or so, which is also a good sign. However, we still come back to that same question. Do you buy it to drive, or to look at? Personally, I’d want to drive it.

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Comments

  1. Cadmanls Member

    With a price of 20K you had better want to drive it. These cars have moved very slowly up in pricing and don’t see that changing any time in the near future. The baby boomers and I am one have never really seen this as a muscle car and not to say they don’t run well, just it’s a Vega.

    Like 6
    • adam

      Fun with a 307 and fat tires though. Kinda like working up a pinto

    • Robert Spinello

      slowly really. they’ve gone up in value thousands since 2012.

      Like 1
  2. Jason

    Wow, I wonder what else $6,200 would have bought you in 1976. Seems like a lot of dough for this car when new.

    Like 6
    • GTiDave Member

      For a couple of hundred more you could buy a Corvette.

      Like 5
      • Superdessucke

        Yep, and a ’76 ‘Vette was probably not much faster. That says less about this thing and more about how bad the times were. The way to go in 1976, in my opinion, was a Trans Am 455 with a 4-speed. Unless you could afford a Porsche 930. You didn’t have much pickins beyond that.

        That might explain why so many of these pieces of automotive excellence ended up being stored. Everybody thought they were the bomb.

        Like 7
      • Robert Spinello

        Only the bowtie is the same. Why would anyone compare this car to a C3 Corvette because of the similar price.The C3 chassis was a relic in 75. same chassis as the 63. . Chevy was supposted to replace it in 73 for a mid-engined design but it was selling so well it would have been foolish to cancel it with all the profit they made.. until they finally had no choice but kill the 20-year old chassis by 83. By the way a stock 73 VEGA GT outhanded a stock 73 CORVETTE in Road and Track June 1973..and the Cosworth version handles even better. The Cosworth is the better car. I’ve had both. Most C3s have failed to appreciate except the very rare versions ex L88. The Cosworth has appreciated thousands in the last seven years alone and will continue to do so.

        Like 7
      • GTiDave Member

        I didn’t mean to suggest I would prefer a Corvette. I was looking for one a couple of years ago but the prices got out of hand too fast for me.

    • Dave

      My 77 F150 4×4 was $6250 out the door. 351 and four speed granny gear.

      Like 3
    • Robert Spinello

      thats what happens when the engine is designed by cosworth. its a street version of their racing engine which sold for 7,000 at the time yea just the engine. oh by the way GM wrote off 1000 of the engines for 10,000 each. still think 6000 for the car was alot.

    • Keith Estabrook

      $6250 bought my parents a brand new ‘76 Gran Torino station wagon.

  3. JP

    Nice – one of the worst cars ever made with a few extra horses. I think 20 grand would cover an actual car with lots left over…

    Like 2
    • Robert Spinello

      I guess you never drove one. I only take opinions seriously from engineers. They usually know what they’re talking about.

      Like 1
      • John

        Ha ha!

  4. Tracy

    The ad should read “Purchased but never enjoyed” great old car it’s ashamed no one have ever enjoyed it.

    Like 5
  5. Dave at OldSchool Restorations Dave at OldSchool Restorations Member

    Ha Ha .. Comparing it’s performance to a non-Cosworth Vega is the best that can be done. These cars never had good performance, as you clearly see, when you compare it’s ho-hum performance to other cars of the period. This was evidenced by the lack of interest after it was introduced, and people actually got to DRIVE it . What was expected, was not delivered by GM.
    .
    I’ve had two, an early 4 speed, then hoping for spirited perfomance, a later 5 speed. Neither was an exciting car to DRIVE, and I didn’t keep either but a few months..
    This one is a GREAT collectors car, but for a driving enthusiast, there were better choices then, and much better choices now.
    .

    Like 10
    • Keefer F Zeller

      Dave, a base model Corvette in 1976 only had 70 more HP (180). While that was substantial in 1976, today it wouldn’t be. Considering a Corvette of that year was only a few hundred more, I’d surely have gone for that but the performance still left quite a bit to be desired. Even the upgraded version was only 210HP.

      • Robert Spinello

        The president of GM, you know Ed Cole, he designed the Chevy small block for the 55 Chevy, that guy..he test drove a Cosworth Vega prototype and an all-aluminum V8 Vega in 1972. We all know which one he approved for production. Hmm. Maybe you should try one before comparing hp figures and drawing conclusions.

        Like 4
  6. Bear

    My very first car was a used ’76 Vega GT.
    I paid $2200 for it in ’79 or ’80.
    It was silver & black, with black interior, had Keystone Klassic mags & 60 series BFG Radial T/As on it.
    I completely desmogged the 2.3L engine (removed the catalytic converter, air pump, & bypassed the EGR valve), retuned it, & it actually performed pretty decently!
    It had the Borg-Warner 5-speed, so that helped with performance & fuel economy (RPMS were only 2K at 60MPH).
    I drove that car for 3+ years before I parted ways with it. Sold it for $3500.
    Overall it was one of the most reliable & funnest cars that I have ever owned.
    (Yes, the fact that it was my 1st car probably weighs heavily into my memories.)
    ….
    I’d LOVE to buy & DRIVE this ’76 Cosworth.
    1st thing I’d do is remove as much of the smog equipment as possible, install the Weber twin-carb kit that was made specifically for the Cosworth Vega, install a free-flow tuned exhaust, & retune the engine to get as much performance out of it as possible. (One would have to bump up the compression ratio to REALLY release the performance potential of this engine, but that would likely be left for a later improvement.)
    I’d source a set of 15″ gold wheels, + 50-series sticky tires, install gas-shocks (KYBs or Konis), stiffer springs with a 1″ drop, & take it to the track for a day of FUN driving!! (y) (y)

    Like 16
    • scottymac

      IIRC, Chevy thought a whole racing series (like Formula Ford?) would spring up around this engine, and reduced displacement to 2 liters (120 ci) from the stock Vega 2.3 (140ci). Seems like a good way to increase performance would be to find a regular linered Vega block to get back that lost displacement. Or did Cosworth use a shorter throw crank?

    • Robert Spinello

      I own my low-mileage ’76 Cosworth mahogany metallic 5-speed since 2012, a Hemmings Classic Car and Motor Trend Classic feature car. I bought my first one, a ’76 4-speed, same color, in 1983 for just 3000. what a bargain that was. It was featured in Super Chevy Jan. 1988. and I wrote the article. If this car was a ’75, I would have considered buying it. No sense in owning two of the same model year. The car is worth every bit of 20,000. Similar examples have been sold at MECUM for well over 20,000.

      • John

        Ah, no wonder you don’t want to hear the truth.

  7. Grumpy

    Didn’t read a letter. Wow, you got sheep, paying you to to talk smack, Australians. Why?

    • steve

      One thing that most people miss about low mileage cars like this is that there are thing that suffer mightily from NOT being used. The one that is oftem overlooked is valve springs. Some of those springs have been compressed for DECADES. They fatigue. You rev it up and BAD THINGS happen. Hydraulic lifter engines are better this way as the lifters do bleed down over time but…

      Like 4
      • Robert Spinello

        It only matters if you going to drive it anyway. I bought one with 1,500 miles on it seven years ago and drove it to shows 7,500 miles. about 1,000 miles a year average. The alternator belt broke two years ago on a 400-mile trip. I then replaced all the belts including the timing belt. Age, not mileage had taken their toll on the rubber. Some parts need replacing regardless of mileage. The car has had no other issues from not being driven since new until 2012.

    • Gary S.

      Unfortunately the Cosworth came out at the wrong time. With emission standards kicking in it totally ruined the performance of this engine. If i remember correctly the Cosworth had close to 200hp when first designed but after being killed by emission standards it was reduced to the lackluster engine as seen in production.I would have to go back to my research to confirm numbers but i think I’m close enough. Yaay…EPA…..ugghhh.

  8. JTC

    I’ll buy it and go rallying! Oh wait, I’ll buy two used Fiat Abarth’s start a team and go rallying.

    Like 1
  9. Moparman Member

    SIgh! No A/C and didn’t opt for the swing out rear windows…NO deal! :-)

    • Robert Spinello

      you lose

      • John

        Look in the mirror.

  10. John

    of all of the potential collector cars, the Cosworth Vega is the ONE car that I could just parking somewhere. 12 miles would be enough for me.

    Like 1
  11. John Oliveri

    I don’t think driving it sparingly, as I do for my classic car, cruise nights and car shows during season April thru October is gonna devalue the car much, it would be like 2000 miles per yr, probably less, but no a/c and no 8 track, nah I’d pass, this ain’t no Cuda that suffering in the heat is worth it

    Like 1
  12. Glenn

    IF it is the lowest mileage car in existence, then leaving it alone is the only way to go. It transitions from being unique to just another low-mile car. I don’t think $20k is too far out of line. The problem with VEGA’s is that they don’t have wide appeal like a Mustang does. You either like them or you don’t. For $20K, I’d expect a proper reproduction battery, not a $79 Interstate. That driver seat upholstery is wrinkled and should be addressed, and the under hood should be detailed to a much higher degree. If he did all that, I’d pay him the $20K.

    Like 1
    • Paul

      A 3200 mile example sold last winter at Mecum Kissamee for over $25,000

      Like 1
      • Robert Spinello

        They are finally being recognized. and they will continue to go up.

    • Robert Spinello

      There are plenty of these with no mileage, maybe because they were a collectors item when they came out, being numbered and all. what car was a collectors item when it was new. a Cosworth Vega was, and i’m glad people are starting to realize it, 40 years late..but .better late than never. In ten more years it will double in value.

      • John

        Engines blew up with low mileage.

  13. Del

    Not worth 10 grand

    • Robert Spinello

      i’m glad you don’t control the market for what my car is worth. Buyers do.

      Like 1
      • John

        You’re funny.

  14. fran

    Does it run? How many quarts to the mile does it use?

    • Keefer Zeller

      Fran, you are thinking of the standard Vega. This is not the same motor and did not burn oil like that. MY first car, a 71 silver Vega, did indeed burn lots of oil, but, this one would not.

    • Robert Spinello

      give it a break Fran. the engines were hand built..the extra ones were wrote off for 10,000 a piece.

  15. Jack Quantrill

    Why buy a Kia, or Toyota, when you could have this classic “new” car for less?

  16. John B.

    What do you do with a car that is notorious for using oil and rusting prematurely? If you are “The General” you make it more complex, paint stripes on it, and market it as a “special edition”. Sometimes I am ashamed that I own a herd of GM vehicles!

    Like 3
  17. Bob McK Member

    Bottom line… it is a Vega. Enough said.

    Like 2
    • Robert Spinello

      not enough said bottom line. no other american car had a cosworth designed engine.

  18. Robert Spinello

    The Cosworth Vega was put into production for one reason only. To promote Chevrolet high-performance in the non-performance era. The car accelerated as fast as any GM car weighing a thousand pounds more with a 350 140-hp engine and that just happens to be the majority of the cars GM sold. Even a big-block 74 Chevelle required 10 seconds to reach 60 mph. and guess what. that beast got 10 mpg. i’m tired of hearing all this negative talk about this car. It performed as good or better than any foreign sport sedan in its price range, and that’s what it was supposed to do. The Vega had the best-engineered chassis from GM in the 70s, bettering the heavier Camaro and aging Corvette.The Cosworth added power to utilize that great chassis. There has always been more to a sports car than just acceleration. This car had balance. It was the only neutral-handling car available in the U.S. It’s a shame it has been under appreciated for decades, until now, but the word has been out.

    Like 4
    • John

      Glad you like it.

  19. bobhess bobhess Member

    For a car that most of commenters feel isn’t much of a machine it sure got a lot lot of excitement….

    Like 1
    • John

      It was the same when it was new. The idea of a Cosworth inspired motor created a lot of buzz in the car mags (didn’t have YouTube back then). There was an assumption that anything that said Cosworth on it would be magic. The suspension upgrades, essentially a larger roll bar and stiffer shocks along with wider wheels, made the little car handle better. A non-Cosworth car could be made to handle the same. But adding 30-50% more horse power helped only on paper. The higher HP was available only in RPM ranges that were seldom visited on a daily basis. I think at 1500 rpm the torque figures for the Cosworth were essentially identical to the normal motor. But it was a neat looking car, and everyone WANTED it to be great. But the car itself was wracked with design/metallurgical issues that made it leak, rust, and otherwise misbehave. The regular Vega motor had longevity issues and many hoped that a Cosworth motor would be the panacea to save the marque. It was not to be. They remain neat looking little cars (especially the Kammback) but their looks failed to offset the reliability and longevity issues. I had a Kammback. I loved it. It was a horrible car and it rusted in a few short years. I’d buy a reliable and higher quality edition today if it were available. But I never bought another Chevrolet after that experience.

      Like 1
    • Robert Spinello

      It’s plenty a machine, and it was as good or better than the imports in its day. Even the Vega GT out-handled everything on wheels How many times do I have to repeat it. get a back issue of road and track June 1973. read the Vega GT road test. then maybe you’ll understand.

      Like 2
      • John

        You’re so wrong.

  20. JOHN Member

    This has been an entertaining thread for sure! I always thought the Cosworth Vega’s were pretty good cars, but in a way, similar to the Corvair, maybe a little too late? The early body Corvairs were interesting cars, but the later models were excellent handling cars. With the advent of the pony cars, and GM unveiling the Camaro, and some assistance from Ralph Nader, the Corvair just went away. The early Vegas were horrible, but I think the public just didn’t react to the Cosworth’s. Many of the articles I remember reading at the time had nothing but good things to say about them. All that being said, I would love to have a 72 or 73 GT, I think the styling was excellent, they looked great with the stripe and the Goodyear A70x13 white lettered tires on the GT wheels, excellent dash, etc. Maybe a simple 5.3 aluminum LS swap to keep the weight reasonable could be loads of fun!

  21. Mountainwoodie

    As for Mr. Spinello, understandably so, and all these other comments, trenchant or otherwise on the subject of the Cosworth Vega, as Shakespeare wrote, Much Ado About Nothing.

    Like 2
  22. GTiDave Member

    If I recall, the ’71 Vega had the same HP numbers as the ’76 Cosworth. If the Cosworth had been done on time it would have been the monster Delorean intended, but because of delays they had to keep de-tuning to meet EPA requirements.

    • Robert Spinello

      The 110-bhp Cosworth does 0-60 in 10 seconds. The fastest time was recorded by Car and Driver in March 1975 at 8.5 seconds.
      The optional 93-bhp 71 Vega does 0-60 in 14 seconds. 71s were rated gross hp not brake horsepower.

      • GTiDave Member

        Thanks for clearing that up, I never thought about the change over in HP ratings.

      • John

        Wow, incredibly fast. For 1940.

  23. Jim Turner

    Lots of interest in this I see. Pretty cool looking car and engine. I looked at a new one when these came out-too pricey at that time for me. Always figured they were way detuned, for whatever reason. My wife had a Vega when we married. Sick puppy, ac on or off. Good mileage. I have had several-a Vega funny car, an NHRA super street car, an NHRA super gas car, several drivers, so I am a fan of the body style. So, to my point. I walked in to my machine shop in Abilene TX the other day, and lo and behold there, on an engine stand, was a Cosworth Vega engine. So, I ask the proprietor wtf are you doing with this thing? He says we are working on a street engine for this guy with this Vega. I say what did it dyno? Get ready. Nearly 400 hp at 8800. Whoa! Nuff said. I say I don’t even want to be in the same county when that rascal hits 9k. VERY detuned from factory, as was already pointed out I believe. I think originally that engine was at 240, but wouldn’t meet emissions requirements. 400hp would be a hoot in a 2700 lb Vega.

  24. SFM5S

    In 1976, with $6200, you could have taken your pick of super clean, low mileage 60’s muscle cars: Shelby Cobras & GT350’s, hemi cars, L71 Corvette, etc., etc. and still had enough cash left over for insurance. If performance was your goal, or you were “putting it away” for future sale, why would you choose a Vega with a comparatively anemic 110 hp? Help me understand.

    • Jim Turner

      Brand loyalty? The look? The Cosworth name? For me the look, cause 110 hp doesn’t do much. I grew up with GTOs, GTXs, etc., so the Vega performance is not a deal maker. Point A to point B.

      • Robert Spinello

        Drive one. numbers are only half the story. All engines in the 70s were rated low. 6 cyl. Porsche 911s were rated 140 hp in the 70s. Are they point A TO B cars. You muscle car guys have to broaden your horizons.

    • Robert Spinello

      The Cosworth Vega was a BALANCED sports car, not a muscle car. It was the best handling American car at that time. You cant say that for any of the above cars you mentioned. I’LL SAY IT AGAIN. There is more to a car than straight-line acceleration. The car was only disappointing for the fact it lost 30-hp to get get EPA-certified.. The chassis was fine-tuned from the fine-handling Vega GT which outdid a ’73 Corvette on the skidpad – Road and Track June 1973. Opinions are one thing. Facts tell the story. I’ve got em..you will understand.

      • John

        This is a joke.

  25. Robert Spinello

    For further information, facts not opinions, this is where you want to go. https://www.facebook.com/groups/771348593004210/

  26. Robert Spinello

    In March 1975, after a five-year gestation period, Chevrolet gave the Vega a performance boost while offering enthusiasts 3,508 instant collectors items. The limited-production Cosworth Vega’s hand-built, all-aluminum 2-liter engine is a street version of the 260-hp Cosworth EA racing engine. Chevy engineers had to tame the engine’s cam lift and torque curve to make it more drivable on the street. Test engines were revved to 9,500 rpm, a testament to the alloy block and its forged components durability. The car’s balance and near-neutral handling capabilities were praised if not its straight-line acceleration, while still managing to outperform its imported competition. The car’s purpose, like the Corvette, was to project a performance image for the Chevrolet brand, in the EPA-influenced 1970s.. “Cosworth. One Vega for the price of two” as it was advertised, was priced out of the market, and fell well short of its projected sales goal.
    excerpt from the announcement page of my Vega facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/771348593004210/

  27. John

    POS with any amount of miles. Was then, is now.

  28. JOHN Member

    Wow, there are a lot of “spirited” conversations here. Mr. Spinello is a fan and enthusiast, and VERY likely knows what he is talking about. Let the haters hate, I bet a lot of them here don’t even own a collector car. This is a hobby folks. I have cars I love, I have 5 collector cars at the moment, and I bought them for me… not anyone else. I go to shows, and I can appreciate anything that is relatively old, and the owner maintains it, and/or built it. I may hate what he did to it, but it was a labor of love, and if it was well done, I truly appreciate his dedication. We are all car guys. If you don’t like something, why continue to post nothing but negative comments? Get a life… oh yeah, I don’t own a Vega, never have, but would love to find a 72-73 GT to play around with.

    Like 1

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