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Jumbo Shrimp: 1976 Chevrolet Vega GT Wagon

071816 Barn Finds - 1976 Chevrolet Vega GT Wagon - 1

This cool little thing is a 1976 Chevrolet Vega GT Wagon and it’s in Beaverton, Oregon. It’s listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $1,995 or Make Offer.

071816 Barn Finds - 1976 Chevrolet Vega GT Wagon - 2

This car is the very definition of the term oxymoron to a lot of people, a “cool Vega wagon”. The jumbo shrimp of cars. This Vega looks like it’s in nice shape, don’t let the sprayed-on gray primer fool you. This was originally the seller’s grandparents’ car and they bought it new back when the ol’ US of A was a couple of hundred years old.

071816 Barn Finds - 1976 Chevrolet Vega GT Wagon - 3

They say that the “body condition is solid with some minor rust in the floorboard passenger area front and the battery tray is rusted out.” The seats look pretty decent with a worn/torn area on the driver’s seat, and there is no carpet which is good because you’ll want to do something with the floors anyway. The back area looks pretty nice.

071816 Barn Finds - 1976 Chevrolet Vega GT Wagon - 4

This car has a 5-speed, which is great. It also has the 2.3L four-cylinder with only 80 hp, which isn’t that great, but it’s doable. And, it doesn’t really matter because you’re going to want to drop an SBC in here anyway.. (kidding) This engine has “a new fuel pump and oil sending switch. Runs & drives, does not smoke”. I think this would be a heck of an unusual car to restore, you’d most likely have the only one at the next Cars and Coffee or at your local car show. Or, even at a national car show, for that matter. A yellow Vega GT wagon with a 5-speed is a desirable combination of boxes that just got checked for me. Is anyone else into unusual 5-speed wagons like this one? How would you restore this car?


  1. MH

    I would much rather have the Oldsmobile wagon in the background of the first picture. Those we great cars with lots of cargo room. Most are gone now.

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  2. Rock On Member

    Would be much more desirable after an LS swap.

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  3. 68 custom

    back in the 80s a guy I knew had a 77 Vega wagon he had done the swap with a bone stock 305/quadrajet, the wimpy 305 ripped one of the control arms from the uni-body and he had rigged it up with some angle iron bolted to the floor. when it got to highway speed the body flexed so badly that one fender was at least 6 inches higher than the other. yes it was a death trap! but if I had a Vega it would also receive a SBC swap, just maybe with a full cage.
    I kinda dig it…

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  4. JW

    This would be a nice vehicle to modify in to a race car.

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  5. Mr. Bond

    The last one of these I owned, I paid $600 for. Back in 1978! It was a yellow GT, with the fake wood siding. Cool car, but the engines had an early type of plating in the cylinders, and it wore quickly, causing them to smoke and die, often as early as 60,000 miles. A sleeved block was a solution, but expensive. GM started using the Chevette motor at some point, I think it was 1977 or 1978.

    The front end will need some structural support for a heavy V8. Installing heavier springs isn’t enough. The unibody frame rails were too weak for that much weight and torque. Find a wrecked Monza with the V8 and borrow the undercarriage components from it for your swap! The V8’s are fast, but handling and brakes are not really up to it. A narrowed rear end and beefier transmission will also be required.

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  6. Vince Habel

    These 5 speeds were not very good.

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  7. Rotag999

    I put a Buick V-6 in my 74-GT Be nice to find a 215 Buick v-8 or rover as that swap is only 20 lbs more then the stock oil sucker. As vince said this 5 speed is weak !

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    • marlin1893

      I put a 231 Buick in my 74 GT with a 4 speed, Hooker headers, alum intake and small Holley it ran great, fast little sucker :o) BTW I had a complete Hooker Fiberglass body kit on it also way back in 1980

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  8. Doug Towsley

    My Dad had one early 80’s, I was a late teen and abused that poor car. Twice we had tranny problems. We had a few friends who were GM mechanics and they said there was a washer in there that did nothing but cause problems. They removed it. 2nd time it stuck in 5th gear on the freeway. rebuilt it again. I finally killed it when it developed a terminal engine knock on another freeway. Sold it at a loss. Im sure if gently babied it would have lasted longer. We too were told there was terminal engine issues by the dealers mechanics so we decided not to rebuild the motor. I played in bands at the time and carried a lot of equip. in the back and sometimes the other guitar player would lay across the gear sandwiched between the gear and roof so for fun I went thru a shopping center parking lot and caught a little air off a ramp. We were spotted by the police and got off with a warning. We got lucky. Our car was the SAME yellow as this one. I have pictures of it in our driveway. Would be ironic if the same car all these years later as we are in the same area. But Im sure its just another car. It WAS rather nice for teenage dating as the back seats folded down,,,,,, ahem.

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  9. Steven C

    I would keep the stock engine in it, probably be the last one driving around without a sbc in it. Maybe some webers on it though.

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    • Doug Towsley

      If someone was serious about 4 banger GM power, get yourself a copy of the Chevrolet power catalog, I have some old copies, my newest one i got after returning from Europe is 6th edition and paid $6.95. You can get copies on Feebay and Amazon for nearly the same price and is a wealth of info and how-to including race prep and blueprinting. Cant go wrong with anything in there. An education in itself.

      see: https://www.amazon.com/Chevrolet-Power-Catalog-Technical-Specifications/dp/B000M3NQZQ

      My copy has a chapter on perf builds of the Chev 2.0 liter 4 cylinder and details what parts to use, what years, and factory part numbers. Many of these were used in circle track and some classes of road race and off road. I never messed with them, but I have seen some at races in the past.

      As to whether its worth it for a Vega can be debated, but there is a lot of possibilties. The biggest weak link is that Saginaw 5 speed in this car featured. Great for a granny car commutter, not up to performance specs, But loads of 80s-90s Camaros with beefier 5 speeds out there. I bet you could also swap over the better brakes and some suspension parts as well. If you did all that would be an ultimate sleeper car. Just sayin’……………..

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      • Steven C

        Right on man. Knowing the history of this motor I would get a kick out of building one and making it awesome.

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  10. Junior Johnston

    My 76 Cosworth has a 434 sbc and a 2speed in it, and the only thing I have done to the front end is add V8 Monza spring and Wilwood brakes. The rear is a stock(for the Vega) width 9″, with braced upper control arm mounts. Had to mini tub it so I could run a 28×10.5 slick.

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    • Danny74

      Did you really remove and get rid of a Cosworth engine, in a Cosworth Vega?

      What’s the point of getting a Cosworth Vega if you’re going to swap out the Cosworth engine?

      If you still have the engine I would love to buy it. I’ve been looking for years, to buy a Cosworth Vega engine that had no home.

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  11. AMCFAN

    The Vega should have been the car that transformed GM into automotive world domination but as we know it added nails to their coffin. It is a great lesson in manufacturing and how to kill your product with too many designers. Too many bean counters and not enough engineers. The caveat being it made for better cars today.

    Sadly the Vega was a good looking car. In GT trim more so. It could have had the ability of being Honda Civic with it’s name invoking happy and good thoughts. IF it had the reliability and quality built in, GM had the ability to make. We might have kids rescuing them and building them. For the thousands made too few good examples exist even fewer with with a stock powertrain. The only car where the motor AND body expired around the same time. Had the engines not been a grenade and parts of the body rusting off in chunks we could have seen this car or elements of it being built into the 1990’s. GM was reluctant to add inner fender skirts to the earlier cars at a cost od $2.00 per car. That is how bad. Later they did but a little to late

    It taught the mighty one the shift in American car buyer didn’t care what it looked like they wanted economy and reliability= Just because you built it and say it is new doesn’t mean the public isn’t going to buy it. Hard lesson learned. In 1980 to try and put the Vega fiasco behind them they do a 180 and introduce the Citation. =More nails.

    Always amazed me that a car being such a turd why anyone would consider putting a V8 in one. Must be the Chevrolet mentality. Because it says Chevrolet.

    It worked for Bill Jenkins yes, but he would drive it a quarter mile at a time and his chassis was built for that purpose. Stock Vegas were dangerous enough structurally without one. May look decent on the outside but rusted inside out. Add the home built element and you had a recipe for disaster. I know. A friend lost his sister in a 350 powered Vega.

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  12. Rotag999

    Kenne-Bell was the Buick Guru in the day.

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  13. Tom Member

    In 76 GT stood for Giant Turd. If it were a Vega panel truck it would be more interesting.

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  14. Scotty Staff

    Auction update: this cool Vega sold for $1,995!

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  15. geri

    ouch, in the mid to late 70’s we junked about a zillion of these relics after paying 25 bucks for them, salvation was the parts selling at swap meets like the wheels tires trannys and of course th GT wheel which if pristine we got 50 bucks for the street rodders and columns .fun cars but rust buckets through and thru

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