$2,800 Coupe: 1977 Chevrolet Vega

This opening photo is what a lot of us look for as we’re driving around, a car sitting by the side of the road or at the end of someone’s driveway with a for sale sign on it. This 1977 Chevrolet Vega may be that car for one of you. This last-year Vega can be found here on Craigslist in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the seller has a very enticing asking price listed: $2,800. Very, very tempting, let’s check it out.

I prefer the Vega sedan/notchback design over the hatchback but that’s just a personal preference. The notchback was actually referred to as a Coupe for the last year of production. Sometimes a hatchback is more useful but there’s something about these blocky sedans that gets to me. This would be the last year for the Chevy Vega which is hard to believe. Such a, yes, “iconic” car that has been on everyone’s mind for decades, either good or bad, only had an eight-year run and the last one rolled out the door over four decades ago.

The seller isn’t giving out much info on the ad, which in total consists of this: “Clean 1977 Chevy Vega notch back. runs and drives.” They’re a man/woman of few words, no question about it. Unlike me, my listing would probably spend a whole paragraph on the glove box knob and another two paragraphs on the condition of the lighter socket. This person is like, “Car, good”… But, the photos speak volumes and this car appears to be in great condition. They show us a closeup of the rockers and they look as solid as Amazon.com (the new Sears, but that slogan doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well).

The interior also looks good. We don’t see the back seats other than partially in this photo, but they look great. We also don’t see what’s hiding under those seat covers but not to worry, upholstery can be fixed and if the rust situation checks out, and it should if it’s a Colorado car, this would be a fun project for sure. And, it even has a manual transmission for those of us to like to shift our own gears, especially when power is on the low side.

Speaking of that, this engine photo looks good, doesn’t it? Or, not necessarily the engine photo but the engine itself. I’m not here to critique photo quality (although I usually do). There are no underside shots at all to see if there are any leaks, but I would plan on a few gaskets and the usual hoses, belts, tuneup, fluid flush, etc. This should be Chevy’s 140 cubic-inch inline-four with around 84 hp and at least it runs, that’s always good. This could be a really fun winter project for someone. I wish I were looking for another project, this is the right size and the right price for me. How about you?

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  1. S Craig MacDonald

    Step one: attach an IV pole and a quart of 10w-40 that will require replacement every 100 miles.
    I had an earlier version of this car in a hatchback and no one ever saw the rear bumper thanks to the blue smoke it put out. That engine was notorious for burning oil.
    No thanks. At any price.

    • Fred W

      If I remember correctly, the earlier engine (aluminum) was replaced with the “Iron Duke” 4 cylinder, a much better mill. The fact that this Vega is still in existence and in such good shape means it HAS to be one of the better ones to roll off the line. Most rusted into oblivion before the Disco era.

      • Gary A Derian

        Bah. They burned oil only after the engine overheated. If cared for, they last forever. The Reynolds 390 block alloy is the same stuff as current German Alusil blocks. Early cars leaked coolant and overheated regularly, though, so that was bad.

        The Iron Duke was a cast iron Pontiac engine which evolved into the Tech 4. This Vega has a Vega aluminum block engine.

  2. Timmy

    I used to scour the salvage yards for those 4- speed Saginaw transmissions,vehicle weight/power ratio assured they were not hurt and i’ve had better luck with them than Muncie transmissions it’s been years since I got a Vega 4- speed.i thought they were all gone

  3. Bobby

    My Gt Vega throwed a rod at 23000 miles. The last Chevrolet I ever owned. It wasn’t hot rodded and oil change ever 3000 miles plus the 3-4 quart between oil changes. Don’t see a lot of these the few that the engine didnt grenade in rusted out in a few years. I wouldn’t let this car set in my driveway. I can’t believe that asking price.

    • Miguel Member

      We don’t know how many engines have been in this car since new.

      A lot of these cars had replacement engines under warranty.

    • PatrickM

      I’d put a SBC in it with a 6 spd and 12 bolt. Keep it street legal. So there.

  4. Steve M Member

    Come on Mr MacDonald, where’s the fun in that! My friend’s dad had one just like this one that he bought brand new for a commuter car. I always wondered why he had to work on it all the time when it was still new. It was such a POS that he had to get rid of it about a year later. Good memories with that car though. If it was in my area, NW I would consider it!

  5. Rock On

    There are plenty of modern engines that would fit nicely in that generous engine bay. That would seem to solve most of the commentors gripes. This looks like a nice project to take on.

  6. Del

    In the write up you mention :

    “Side of the road”.

    If you buy this that is exactly where it will leave you too 😁

  7. Bob

    Need more Vegas on b/ f like parts cars

  8. dweezilaz

    This would have the Dura-Built engine introduced in 76: the same engine as before with a great # of improvements.

    Yes, Scotty. I like the notchback too. And there is more leg room in the back seat than the hatchback.

    If the engine ever went in this, it would get an Iron Duke from a 78 Monza.

    From Wiki:
    “The 1976-77 2300 engine received a new cylinder head design incorporating hydraulic lifters to replace the unusual taper-screw valve adjusters, factory iron cylinder liners, and better valve stem seals in the hopes of improving sales, along with a new five-year, 60,000-mile (97,000 km) engine warranty (these engines were christened the “Dura-Built 140″). It also benefited from greatly improved engine cooling.”

  9. Tom Justice

    That car was not worth that much when it was new.

  10. Skorzeny

    I would swap a 215 cid into this. A ’73 I drove one with a 215 was a blast! Why malign it when you could do a swap?

  11. JoeNYWF64

    The roof on this 2 door sedan is too high – when the top of a bucket seat is that far from the ceiling. & didn’t chevy realize they could have saved a lot of money if the 2 door sedan & the lower roof 2 door hatchback shared the same shorter door glass, door frames & windshield?
    The later ’70s 2 door nova hatchbacks & 2 door novas with a trunk did, so why not the vega?
    How hard is it to find an iron duke motor? (tho i would throw in at least a V6).
    Do these original vega motors have 4 heater hoses?!

  12. Joe

    Junk then. Junk now.

  13. KawiVulc

    Prettiest girl in my HS graduating class drove one of these that her dad had painted a sort of early Tampa Bay Buccaneers orange with white hood & trunk stripes. The car had a certain appeal even beyond the beauty behind the wheel but I would have never admitted it at the time…

  14. Ben T. Spanner

    I had a boss with 4 kids and no money. His wife insisted that they buy a new house in a new neigborhood. Super cheap construction soon led to problems he could not fix. He broke a toilet when trying to install a new seat.
    He bought the cheapest new Vega available, as they offered Zero down and $750 cash back. The passenger seat was bolted to the floor, so no adjustment. Four little kids in the back seat; brilliant
    He tried to do the first oil change and ripped the oil filter, but couldn’t get it off. Had to pay for a tow to the dealership. It soon deteriorated into a pile.

  15. Blyndgesser

    Stick a Buick V6 under the hood.

    • PatrickM

      That works!

  16. stillrunners

    Yep…buddy’s mom bought a like coupe in green…the first year….and with the low miles she put on it….they still warranted the motor when it went south. I’m sure the factory A/C didn’t help….

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