$4k 27k-Mile Project: 1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega

For two model years, Chevrolet teamed up with Cosworth to create a limited-production, performance-oriented variant of its Vega compact car. This 1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega that Barn Finds reader Russell G. found here on Craigslist is the 3330th out of 3508 manufactured examples, and it is also a low-mile specimen.

This Cosworth Vega is available in Southampton, Pennsylvania with a clean title. The seller notes that the vehicle is in mostly original condition, though items such as the windshield and cowl received a replacement at one point.

The exterior of the vehicle features untouched original paint with patina in various areas. However, there are a variety of spare body parts included with the vehicle’s sale, such as an extra hood, front and rear bumpers, front grille, front fenders, a hatchback lid, and even more.

Inside the cabin, the tan interior theme provides a nice contrast to the dark green exterior color. The interior is well preserved, with no rips or tears present in the seats, and the carpet also appears to be mostly clean.

Under the hood, you’ll find a 2.0-liter twin-cam 4-cylinder engine, which has only traveled 27,000 miles.  The engine pairs to a 4-speed manual transmission to drive the rear wheels, and while the engine does run rich at the moment, the seller notes that this Cosworth Vega starts, runs, drives and shifts without issue.

The seller is asking $3,995 or best offer for this compact sports coupe. Could you see yourself fixing up this limited-production Vega?

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Comments

  1. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Pretty rusty car.
    And without documentation, it must be assumed to have 127K miles.

    More of a project than a casual buyer might realize. Might be unusual for the color combination, though, and fun to drive when mechanically sorted.

    3
    • Superdessucke

      Something seems off here. Somebody just got $8,000 for a 1973 AMC Hornet. Why is this half the price? Something is not as it seems with this one.

      2
      • CJinSD

        A huge percentage of Cosworth Vegas were put away with the hope of someday realizing an appreciated collector value that never came. Also, selling one in the period would have meant accepting a sizable loss for the dealer, since they were priced between top end Camaros and basic Corvettes. Many a dealer became an involuntary collector. The end result is that there are always several low mileage examples with condition only deteriorated due to their low quality assembly and propensity for attracting natural disasters while in storage. Good cars have a much harder time surviving over twenty-five years. They get used up because they work as cars. Then they become collectible because people who used them when they were just cars get nostalgic

        5
      • Superdessucke

        Good points. And a natural disaster to a Chevrolet Vega could be 65% or greater humidity.

        12
      • James Schwartz

        The 8000 dollar AMC Hornet was a factory 360 V8 car, in better shape than this 4 banger Vega is. Not comparing Apples to Apples. If it were a inline 6 hornet, that would be more comparable.
        The 360 equipped Hornets were incredibly rare. Try finding a decent one for sale (almost impossible)….Then try finding a Cosworth Vega for sale (several out there at any given moment).

        1
      • Superdessucke

        A 1973 Hornet with 360 made 175 horsepower. According automobilecatalog.com, 0 to 60 came in 8.4 seconds and the quarter mile in 16.4. While respectable for the times, that’s no muscle car.

        While this thing is no barnburner either, I don’t think the comparison is that far off.
        The bottom line is the market’s gone crazy, so it’s fair to ask why this is so cheap. Maybe the craziness hasn’t touched this, kind of like it hasn’t touched my E36 M3 yet, LOL!

        1
      • James Schwartz

        I see what you were saying Superdessucke, but I wasn’t referring to 0-60 or quarter mile times when I said it wasn’t an apples to apples comparison. There’s just so much more to it. you were questioning why a ’73 Hornet Hatchback with a factory 360 (an incredibly rare car to see these days) would sell for 8k, but this Cosworth Vega is going for only 4k.

        I like both cars, but they are two VERY different cars, even if the 1/4 mile times were fairly close. On one hand you’ve got a compact car with a fairly large displacement V8 in it with an automatic (that they made very few of, and only a handful remain), compared to a subcompact with a 4 banger and 4 speed.

        But the biggest difference is rarity today, and that’s why they just aren’t comparable. There are currently 5 cosworth Vega’s on eBay right now. And there are ZERO AMC Hornets with the factory 360.
        Similar story on Hemmings: 7 Cosworth Vegas, and ZERO 360 equipped AMC Hornets.
        I watch for them all the time. I used to have a green Hornet Hatchback with the factory 360, and I’ve wanted one badly since. I was a bidder (but came up short) on the one that sold for 8k. The hatchbacks with Factory 360’s were only available 2 years (just like the Cosworth Vega), and they show up for sale only about one every 2-3 years.
        The Cosworth on the other hand: Take your pick of many for sale at any given time.
        I wasn’t talking about performance, talking about availability. It’s the law of supply and demand, and it’s the answer to your initial question. That’s why a 360 Hornet Hatch sells for 8k and a Cosworth is going for half it’s price.

        3
      • Superdessucke

        I respect your views and they make sense. But I guess I’m still in the mindset that rare doesn’t always equate to valuable. My M3 is one of 13 in its striking color combo and one of only 4,500 sedans built with a manual. But if I tried to use that to get more cash, you’d be able to hear the laughter from 3 states away!

        But again, those are remnant thoughts from a different time. People are spending, spending and spending (except on E36 M3s and Cosworth Vegas apparently), and I’m absolutely sure said Hornet’s purchaser justified parting with that big pile of cash via the rationale you just described for us.

        So in a way, that’s why I’m still a little shocked at this present car’s low price. For all its faults, and relatively generous supply, you’d think someone would be all over a rare dark green Cosworth Vega. Most are black, so you’d figure someone would shell out a grand or two more to have green given the way things are going!

        FYI, I had a Hornet too, though with the 258. It was a pretty quick little car, and fun to drive, though again, I could not see myself spending anywhere near 8k for one, 360 or not (well, maybe an S/C 360 I would but not a ’73 360 2-bbl). But obviously there are those who disagree.

    • Tony Primo

      My family owned a 1974 Vega GT 4 speed and a 1975 Vega automatic. Between the two of them they didn’t reach 127,000 miles. This car is probably under 50,000 miles.

    • Tony Primo

      My family owned a 1974 Vega GT 4 speed and a 1975 Vega automatic, between the two of them they couldn’t reach 127,000 miles. This car probably has fewer than 50,000 miles on it.

      5
  2. BRAKTRCR

    As groundbreaking as these were, I only see it with a V8 in it. I’m sure that is blasphemy to some. I think the Cosworth, was too little, too late, to save the Vega’s reputation. I imagine the novelty of the 4 cyl, would wear off pretty quickly for me. It seems only the Cosworth’s we’re the ones saved, all the others rusted to death, or became racecars.
    I had a 74 wagon full race car, and a Pontiac Astre, that I put a 355 in. Both were a blast. I miss them both

    3
    • Chebby Member

      I would be fun to build one of these using a modern GM 4-banger with 200+ horsepower, so you could achieve what they were originally trying to do. But you might as well start with a base Vega, and use one of the better-looking earlier ones.

      4
      • blyndgesser

        Exactly. An Ecotec engine would be the right update.

        3
  3. Dan

    Cowl replacement is not a good sign. Makes me wonder what else has been, or still needs to be, replaced. This would be a great car if restored, but the asking price seems way too high to me.

  4. sir mike

    Western PA car….watch out for rust issues.

    1
  5. stillrunners

    Lots of these hiding out – guess it’s time to try and get some money out of them………

    2
  6. Camaro Joe

    sir mike,

    This is in South Eastern PA; the Philadelphia area. They get around 1/5 the snow that Western PA does. 1976 Vegas lasted a couple years in that climate before they rusted to death. In the snow belt south of Erie PA (between Cleveland and Buffalo) the fenders fell off in the first winter. The “Cowl has been fixed” statement is NOT a good sign for body integrity. I’d either look real hard at structural integrity . . . . . . or just run away from it.

    4
  7. George Mattar

    Sir Mike. This car is about
    10 miles from my house near Philadelphia. Last I checked that is southeastern PA. They throw 100,000 tons of salt here for a quarter inch of snow. I was the assistant service manager at a very busy Chevy Olds dealer on 1976. We had one of these cars. It sat unsold for months. It is still a Vega. Biggest POS DeLorean dumped on us.

    2
  8. JOHN

    The Cosworth Vega’s are an intriguing car. Call them rare, call them anything you want, but they just don’t have the collector’s attention. As mentioned by CJinSD, many were bought and put away thinking that they would become serious (valuable) collector cars… it just never happened. If you want one of these, they are available frequently, and many are in really nice condition. Personally, I would rather have a 72 or 73 GT, with a drivetrain swap of course, but the GT was a nice little factory package (RPO Z/29) that included front and rear sway bars, gauge package, wider and styled factory wheels with A70x13 white letter tires, a nice stripe, but that engine… hmmm, I have a LS2 sitting on a stand…

    7
  9. RandyS

    I absolutely loved the dogleg T50 5-speed when it came out on later models and the Monza. Too bad it was not designed to be stronger as would have been a great option for the Corvette of the day.

    1
  10. Russell Casey

    I recommended a standard Vega to a friend as a family car Well, ex-friend. So sorry as he had all the problems. I seldom recommend cars to anyone anymore. :)

    1
  11. Wellington

    The narrative is wrong, and so is Wickopedia about the years built. They first came out in 1974, available only as black on black. I had one in 1974 and still have the 39 page owner’s supplement to the owner’s manual. Anyone who desires can have a photo of the supplement cover, if they wish.

    • James Schwartz

      I was under the impression that they were introduced in 1974, but as a 1975 model year car, just like most cars. I’d like to see this supplement if you have a photo handy.

    • Dick Baumhauer

      The Cosworth Vega was first available for sale in March 1975, GM received the EPA certificate March 14, 1975. It was delivered with 110HP from its 122CID engine when at the same time the Corvette 350CID V8 was rated at 165HP. Read the Road Test Magazine article. In 1976, Road Test magazine conducted a ‘Supercoupe Shootout’, with the Cosworth Vega competing against a BMW 2002tii, Alfa-Romeo GTV, Lancia Beta, and a Saab 99. RT wrote about the Vega: “It had the fastest 0-60 time, the fastest quarter-mile time, and tied with the Saab for the shortest braking distance.” The middle 70’s were terrible times for performance cars, the first emission regs were tough on everyone. Go to http://www.cosworthvega.com for Club info.

      1
  12. Dick Baumhauer

    The first Cosworth Vega’s were available for sale in March, 1975. GM received the EPA’s Certification of Compliance on March 14, 1975. The Cosworth engine was rated at 110HP from a 122CID, a 90% ratio of HP to CID. During the same year the Corvette had 165HP from 350CID, a 47% ratio of HP to CID. The middle 70’s, due to new emission standards, was a very poor time for performance vehicles. In 1976, Road Test magazine conducted a ‘Supercoupe Shootout’, with the Cosworth Vega competing against a BMW 2002tii, Alfa-Romeo GTV, Lancia Beta, and a Saab 99. RT wrote about the Vega: “It had the fastest 0-60 time, the fastest quarter-mile time, and tied with the Saab for the shortest braking distance.” For more information check out http://www.CosworthVega.com

    1
  13. Tom Justice

    Who would have thought any Vega would get this many comments? Seems like there are a lot of people in the know about these cars, good place to sit back and listen. I remember them well and am told if you got the cylinders sleeved they did pretty well afterwards.

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