2,078 Mile Garage Find! 1976 Chevrolet Vega

This incredible time machine is without question the nicest original 1976 Chevrolet Vega that I have ever seen or probably ever will see, at least in notchback trim. It’s listed here on eBay in Choctaw, Oklahoma. The bidding is a bit of a frenzy, starting out at $1.00 and now is up to $8,900! Are you sitting down? The reserve isn’t met yet; no lie. And there is an $11,500 buy it now price. Let’s dial things back to 1976 and check it out.

This car must have spent a lot of time in someone’s living room surrounded by bean bag chairs and hanging yarn lamps. Ahhh.. the 1970s. This Vega has an amazing 2,078 miles on it and, no, it isn’t 102,078. That’s an average of 49 miles a year! We all know “that guy/gal” who has a perfect collector car and they rarely use it. This is one case where it will probably pay off, at least if the owner hasn’t paid storage fees for all of these years. Let’s see, at $200 a month.. ouch. By the looks of the seller’s perfect, shiny concrete driveway and garage/house, I’m guessing that this car has had a very pampered life even with the current owner.

The big news for the 1976 Vegas were the 300 changes and/or improvements. That’s a lot of work to go through when they unplugged after the 1977 model year. When you’re as big as GM was/is/was/is.. was… that’s no big deal I guess. It’s hard to beat the notchback design for me, but then again the estate/wagon would be good, too. Or, a hatchback. I like them all, big shocker. The current owner, the seller, bought this car from the daughter of the original owner, who was her grandfather. The “car stayed in the garage with a cover until a few years ago (after his passing) they moved it outside and under a carport with the cover still on. It does have a few very minor defects from a leak in the carport.” They say that “The only thing the car is missing to make it 100% complete original, is the chrome side trim that went down the middle of the car. The daughter said that was the only thing she remembers him taking off because he didn’t like it.”

Good grief, gor-geous! I’m an incurable sucker for a red interior and especially one that’s as close to perfect as it gets and even more so with one that’s original after over four decades. And, it’s a manual transmission car! Not that anyone would even drive this one, I’m assuming that it’ll be relegated to show duty for the rest of its time on earth.

An orange engine?! The most negative aspect of the Vega that always comes up in the comments would have to be the first engines. Or, the first few years of engines. In 1976 that all changed, the 2.3L inline-four engines were redesigned to take care of the majority of the overheating issues that the early engines had. They were painted orange starting in 1976 and this one is all original other than the battery. The original battery, being a side-post configuration for use in vertical shipping, leaked at some point and the seller changed it to a new Delco matching side-post battery – a very nice touch. Those details are no doubt what is driving the price up, up, and up for this incredible time machine. I can’t imagine that there is a nicer original Vega out there, have you seen one?

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Comments

  1. 68custom

    the rarely seen even when new notchback! man that is one cherry Vega (oxymoron). still, it needs a small block chevy or a boosted LS to make it any fun! love the red interior!

  2. txchief

    I’m not sure on this one. Seems too good to be true. Who bothers to remove trim pieces on a car they never drive? As well, why is there a wrap on the steering wheel? People typically use those to cover a cracked or worn wheel. The center of the wheel/horn panel looks smooth and a bit worn for a 2,000-mile car. There seems to be a little more than expected wear on the engine bay items for a never-used car, even if it did sit for a long while. The plastic shoulder belt guides are faded out far too much for a car that was supposedly always covered, and the scratching and wear on the rear seat side panels. Buyer beware.

    • Moparmann Member

      If you’d driven with one of those thin, hard plastic steering wheels for any length of time, you’d not be asking why it was wrapped! :-)

    • Jwinters

      well you know it isn’t 102k miles. because no vega ever made it to 102k

  3. Rich Tague

    Never understood why the amber signals in rear were not hooked up to work that year ….Strange

    • Miguel

      It is possible they were planning on selling this in Europe where the amber turn signals are required, or they wanted to make it look European when few other American cars had amber turn signals.

  4. Derek F

    Other than being a rather attractive car ( to me ) I find the whole vertical shipping aspect the most interesting Vega fact. Not only does GM need to buy or lease a bunch of specially constructed railcars to move these ( well in advance of production ), but GM had to engineer the entire car from the beginning to shipped this way- that means every engine and transmission seal needs to allow for that, but even the windshield washer bottle needed to be specially designed! Cool!

  5. mark

    In 1976 the Vega did get better. If it was graded like school work it would have improved to an F+

  6. John Newell

    Scotty you could not have spent as much time in those cars as I did to be so enamoured of it. It is a clean example and I for one believe the odometer reading. I know txchief is suspicious but I find the wear in the engine compartment is easily enough explained by the fact that the print on the oil cap for instance would come off easily on your fingers right from brand new. The alternator is oxidized as you would expect and the paint isn’t perfect. It never was. The engine compartment does not appear to have been primed properly as rust is bubbling up in different areas. Just what you’d expect from GM and its infamous cost cutting. The back seat side wall has some dirt but that’s an indication of lack of use and maybe a window left open for a year or so. The seat belt fade doesn’t look like fade to me it looks like sheen from the sun when the shot was taken. If you look at the pinch seam behind the rear wheel in the side shot, you’ll see that it appeasers to be perfect. That would not be the case with much more than the mileage claimed because that area of the car got sand blasted since it lined up with the back wheel. Even if only summer driven, it would have shown rust by now. For the spot rust in the engine bay that indicates micro-moisture that could not escape even though it was protected from above. The steering wheel cover was a common mod. I expect the wheel is perfect underneath. If anything that cover was added protection from drying out and cracking.

  7. Beatnik Bedouin

    Amazing find, Scotty, although I couldn’t see spending that kind of scratch on a Plane Jane Vega.

    • Jake

      well, we have a none plain jane, vega cabriolet, 1976. very rare :-) will sell for $900

      • Josh Mortensen Staff

        Hi Jake, Email us more photos of the Vega!

      • Ching-A-Trailer

        Vega Cabriolet?? Is that a Vega that had a fight with a can opener??

  8. BarnfindyCollins

    Now all you need is a low mileage Pinto to do a retro comparison shootout….

    • KKW

      The Pinto will win.

  9. Sparkster

    Bidding is up to $9000, who knew ? Anybody here know if these were still four speeds or five speeds in 1976 ?

    • Ching -A-Trailer

      I suspect the bids are of that famous eBay regular Mr Hill, S Hill as he is actually known.

    • Tiberius1701

      These were four-speed cars, the only Vega that received a five speed was the 1976 Cosworth version.

  10. cidevco

    OK not a believer on this one. The rim of the spare tire looks to have been installed and used at some time. Also some of the engine compartment pics have brighter white paint that other areas.

  11. Canadian Mark S. Eh! Member

    It really doesn’t matter about the milage these were a POS from the word go. To bad about that too these were not a bad looking car. But nothing held up on them. I guess if you were looking for a museum pc. this would be ok but $9k not a chance. Maybe $1k on this because it’s so clean, but the minute you roll on any miles it will be a $500.00 car.

  12. Ohio Rick

    Nice to see one with its front fenders intact. They seemed to rust on the showroom floor on early models.

    • Suttree

      GM was an industry pioneer in using compressed rust as a building component.

  13. Rube Goldberg Member

    Certainly a rare find. Looks like one of the cheapest Vegas you could get. Even if the mileage is correct, I find it comical, the paint is already worn off the oil cap and valve cover, so in 2,000 miles, it still looks like the oil cap was well used (how much oil could a 2,000 mile car use?) I can’t believe this car has that low of mileage, and looks like a freshened up job, of an already clean car to begin with. It could be a new speedo. And then there’s the price,,,

  14. David Ulrey

    I have owned 3 Vegas and I may have been lucky but I never had any of the problems I hear about. Worst problem I ever had was a stretched clutch cable. Easy fix. The notch back was my least favorite body style but I could live with it because the car is so darn nice in condition. Only problem I have with this car is the price. I am a Vega lover but idk about that price.

  15. Henry Drake

    It looks ready for a crate 350. On the outside, maybe some of those 4 spoke Cragars. Oh, and one of those 2 foot tall import spoilers. Yeah…..

  16. Jwinters

    well, at least we know the seller is not lying about the mileage. because no vega ever made it to 102k miles haha

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Ha, good one. I have known Vegas to go over 100K, took a couple motors to do it though.

  17. racer99

    Was driving yesterday and pulled up next to a pristine Yugo — doesn’t mean I’d want one. Same here. As mentioned, this will end up in someone’s collection never to see the road again and that would justify the pricing ’cause it sure isn’t the build quality or performance of the car that’s driving the bid prices.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Sadly, I think you’re right. These have to be cheaper for the average family to enjoy. Like you say, for the sheer novelty, not because they were such good cars.

  18. KSwheatfarmer

    Nex-Tech, our local cable provider has a classified ads site which from time to time features a Vega from the Lambrect sale in Nebraska from a few years back. Ad states it shows 3 miles and I think the guy wants 15-K. It’s been for sale for a long time. Kid in high school was into Vegas, hopped his up and claimed a top end of 160. I can’t help smiling every time I see him at the grocery store,recalling his claim of some 40 plus years ago.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      All those Lambrecht cars were grossly overpriced. I bet the reality set in, and they can’t unload them for what they paid for them.

  19. SAW

    “The current owner, the seller, bought this car from the daughter of the original owner, who was her grandfather.” So bought it from her mother?

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      No, I think the mother was involved but not as the seller, if the daughter was also the granddaughter.

    • Suttree

      Or possibly her aunt?

  20. Steve

    In fall of 1971, my dad sold his (1966) Lincoln Continental sedan and bought a “loaded” Vega hatchback. In 3 years, its engine was replaced twice. Transmission was replaced once. Sorry excuse for a car.

  21. Jubjub

    Reminds me of a math text book my brother had from 1974. There was head on shot of a Model T next to a new Vega on the cover.

    • KKW

      A Model T next to a Vega? Apparently that was meant to be an example of American success as opposed to American failure. Lol.

  22. Comet

    Nice car no doubt. But that engine bay looks a bit too weathered for a two thousand mile car.

  23. Del

    Vega/Astra. Same junk.

    Worst cars ever built by the GM mark of excrement.

    Not worth a plug nickel. Aluminum engines blew up regularly.

  24. KKW

    If a Chevelle was to eat a Camaro, this would be the result of the ensuing bowel movement.

  25. mdc

    could be shill bidding to drive the price up??

    • Ching -A-Trailer

      Could be?? Gee, certainly!! No serious bidder is going to act before the final couple of minutes!!

  26. DABIG KAHUNA

    2k miles. That means it’s only 1/2 way worn out!

  27. Bill Owens BillO Staff

    From summer 1979 to fall 1980, my neighbor and I worked at the same place which was a 50 mile round trip commute in North Carolina. We took turns driving each day. On my days to drive, I allowed him the luxury of riding in my 1978 Ford Thunderbird (air conditioned of course). On his days, he subjected me to ride in his 1976 notchback Vega (manual speed, didn’t care myself, but no air conditioning). I think his parents had bought him the bare bones Vega when he went off to college. Finally, in mid summer of 1980 he upgraded to a 1980 Pontiac Phoenix (with air, thank goodness).

    • KKW

      That wasn’t much of an upgrade.

      • Bill Owens BillO Staff

        Probably true, but while I was riding with him it was still pretty new and it didn’t have any problems. I moved away in fall 1980. Not sure how long he kept it.

  28. Bill Owens BillO Staff

    Another thought, in looking at the eBay pictures, why would the recommended tire pressure be 24 for 3 tires, and 28 for the right rear?

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Probably for that awesome power to keep the drive wheel hooked up,,,actually, it’s 24 front/28 rear for up to vehicle capacity, otherwise, 24 front and rear.

      • Bill Owens BillO Staff

        Oh, thanks for clarifying. I didn’t read it carefully.

  29. Bill T

    Seller says “The bottom of the passenger door has a small area of rust” (where water ran down on the inside of the door from the window seal and did not have a place to go.) I looked for a photo of this area, did I miss it? And I know I will catch some flack for this statement… but…. if you want us to believe it’s really a two thousand mile car, and want to get top dollar, take it someplace pay a few bucks and put it on a lift and show us the undercarriage. I keep looking at the side profile pictures and the bottom of the doors, dog legs, quarters look like more than 2K miles. The interior sure looks right for the most part, but as others have pointed out, there are other areas that raise an eyebrow. These were “disposable” cars… and it’s great to see one that “survived” however… GM was using “recycled” metal on these and who knows what the inner fender-wells really look like.

  30. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Sold for $10,600.

  31. John Zornow

    Don’t understand the need for the steering wheel cover

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