350 V8 Power! 1976 Chevrolet Vega

The Vega, introduced in 1971, was Chevy’s response to the imported subcompact car movement. The auto would be produced over eight model years and would gain some unwanted notoriety. Sales were winding down by the time the seller’s ’76 model was built, but unlike the production cars, it now has a 350 cubic inch V8 engine under the hood. Located in Kissimmee, Florida, this nicely upgraded Vega is available here on craigslist for $15,000. Thanks for another cool tip, Pat L.!

Conceived as a sporty little runabout, the Vega saw the production of more than two million units from 1971-77, so you’d have to call it a sales success. That’s even though they developed a reputation for overheating and premature rusting. Presumably, all that was sorted out by the time the seller’s car was built. It was one of 77,000 hatchbacks assembled in 1976 as the Vega end was getting near.

The seller refers to this car twice as a Vega/Monza, which we assume is because the Monza replaced the Vega and could be had with a V8 engine later in its run. Perhaps this 350 engine here came out of a Monza and it has received some fancy tinkering, including a rebuilt Holley Street Avenger carburetor, headers, alternator, and bearings in the Hurst shifter that is paired with the famous Muncie M22 “Rock Crusher” 4-speed manual transmission.

We’re told there is no rust on this car and the paint job looks newer and well-applied. The chrome and glass are also good and the interior, though somewhat spartan, presents well with no issues. The reported mileage is 45,000, but there is no indication if this number is verified. The car has air conditioning, so the engine compartment is rather crowded compared to when the stock motor was there. A typical Vega of this vintage is not a valuable car unless it was a Cosworth Vega in this kind of condition. So, buyers will need to decide if a modified version of the car is a worthwhile investment or a good weekend cruiser.


  1. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    If I was looking for a nice Vega . .

    Like 17
  2. CJinSD

    I prefer the styling of the pre-impact-bumper Vegas, but that is one sweet build.

    Like 18
  3. SMS

    Was in HS when this car was new. My friends and I were driving muscle cars and a vega was seen the same as a Pinto. Only interested when they had a V8.

    Now I look at the Vega and think it was a good looking car. A V8 Vega isn’t my style anymore but it sure looks good.

    Like 13
  4. Terrry

    You could special order a V8-equippedVega from the factory from 74-76, also the Monza V8 was a 262.

    Like 8
    • Ron

      Nope, you couldnt, but you could get a V8 Monza

      Like 45
      • Lynn Member

        No factory V8!

        Like 17
    • PETE W.

      My first new car was a 1974 Vega wagon. The only engine available was the 4 cyl, OHC aluminum block with the specially treated, guaranteed to fail, aluminum cylinder walls. I drove it from Massachusetts to Florida on my honeymoon and by the time it hit 25k miles, had overheated and started using oil at a laughable rate.

      GM told me to pound sand when I went to them for relief, so I threw a junkyard Olds V6 in it (pretty much a bolt in as it had the same front subframe as the Starfire/Monza/Skyhawk) and dumped it ASAP.

      Last GM car I ever bought.

      Like 14
    • Mel Hilgenberg

      Monza also had a 305 V8 stock from the factory.

      Like 7
  5. terry

    The Vega got restyled, not only because of bumper regulations but to let more cooling air into the engine. It looks better too. I’d be leery of the way a 350 Vega would handle though, too much weight in the front for the car.

    Like 4
    • Mark

      Vega’s handled like crap without V8’s… They rode even worse, sounded like the struts were coming through the hood and they made that rattling noise…. Junk

      Like 3
      • BrianT Brian Member

        That made me laugh because i had a Vega wagon and the struts DID end up coming through the hood. Vermont salt will do that.

        Like 3
      • Joey 66

        A Vega didn’t have struts on either end.

        Like 3
      • BrianT Brian Member

        It was, actually, the frint shocks that bulged the hood. I stand corrected.

        Like 2
  6. Will Fox

    The “V8” The later Monzas came with was a much smaller one–262 C.I. and not much on HP. This 350 should be a nice step up for this Vega! I bet this thing rips!!

    Like 8
    • Tony Primo

      You would get the 350 in California Monzas as an emission engine. I bet that it would be hard to get those 13 inch tires to hook up with the 4 speed. Would have to buy rear tires in bulk.

      Like 9
  7. JohnH

    A 262 or a 305 could be had in the monza. The vega was never offered with a v8.

    Like 16
  8. Rogue Android

    I grew up in this era and hated these. But boy this is a nice throwback. A pleasant break from generic people pods . I love the color but I’d want an automatic and daily driver EFI Vortech V6 TBH.

    Like 3
  9. hyatt

    don’t M22 have a drain plug same side fill plug. just saying

    Like 3
    • Old Beach Guy

      That’s not an M22.

      Like 4
  10. Bob S

    True, the Vega was never offered with a V-8. I had a ‘75 Monza with the 262, a lot of weight up front made it a dog to handle, not to mention the 6 plus hour job to change the spark plugs. U you would think that it would of went like a bat out of hades, but mid ‘70s emission devices pretty much took care of that. This does look like a good build though.

    Like 9
  11. Evan

    Made sense back in the day, but no more. Today there are all manner of 250+HP 4-cylinder engines that will fit better, be more serviceable, and not upset the weight balance.

    Like 5
  12. A.G.

    There’s not much room under the hood. It’s interesting how the steering column is routed through the header (image 16).

    Like 2
  13. Stan

    Cool 4spd.
    Buddys mom had an oldsmobile like this in the day.. 305v8 auto. i believe
    cant remember what it was called

    Like 2
  14. Psychofish2
  15. Mark

    V8 or not that is an ugly car…. To each their own, not one of my favorites.

    • Motorcityman

      The Vega always reminded me of a mini Ford Maverick, same flowing body lines.
      I wouldn’t personally call it ugly and the millions of people that bought them over the years would disagree with u too.
      Now the Pontiac Aztec is another story……..and I always thought the Corvair was a ugly car, looked almost the same to me coming or going like a early Audi TT, 😝

  16. hank

    Actually, the CORVAIR was GM’s answer to imports. The Vega was merely the FIRST in a LONG LINE of attempts to replace Corvair. Yet to be accomplished.
    Vega, Chevette, Spectrum, Sprint, Geo, Cobalt, Crapalier, Cruze, and no Sonics and Sparks. NONE of them had the styling, handling, and performance of the Corvair.

    Like 11
  17. Fireman DK

    Had it been a GT and without all that blacked out chrome it would be a much better looking car in my opinion, having owned a plain Jane sedan and also a 76 orange GT .

    Like 1
  18. Lowell Peterson

    You might save money on tires with some sticky rears and good trac bars. Just feather that throttle and keep the fronts almost? On the ground. Lots of fun for the money here.

    Like 2
  19. Howie Mueler

    This looks like a great deal!! Listed 4 days ago.

    Like 1
  20. its1969ok

    Very tasteful build. Graphics are a little dated but otherwise….

  21. David j Opdyke

    Sorry that rear not holding up!

    Like 1
  22. butchb

    It would be interesting to see how long it would idle with the AC on until it overheated. I’ve owned and built a number of these and cooling them is a challenge without a good aluminum radiator and dual electric fans. Without mod’s to the rear axle housing these wheel hop like mad but this car appears to have the necessary modifications. Mashing the gas pedal on this will send it swinging 90* left and right. Stopping with the stock brakes is almost as hair-raising. Building a one of these right cost’s about the same as building a more valuable muscle car, but the Vega’s just don’t bring the same money. About 1/2 his asking price is all the money for a V8 Vega.

  23. Al

    A friend Dave L. done this to his ’73 Vega back in ’77 back in Stratford CT. A 350 built & an M-22. I suggested he put a roll cage in & all our friends laughed & said ‘If he drives like you, YES, put one in”! He did! Good thing. He was flying down a road and into the S curves when a tire hit the curb causing it to roll 7 times. Engine flew out of the car over 300’. I go to the hospital & saw him the next day all banged up & bruised, black eye from something. He looks at me & says ‘Good thing I took your suggestion about that roll cage”. No kidding. Was a nice car before that. Never rebuilt it that I know of.

  24. 19sixty5 Member

    I’m pretty certain that the transmission is a Saginaw, it certainly isn’t a M-22. It would be a fun car to drive, but would take a light right foot to avoid lighting up those little 13″ tires. While you are enjoying the smoke show, I hope you budgeted for third member that can handle the power…

    Like 1
  25. Haynes

    A 400 hp 4sp Vega wagon w modern suspension and serious brakes would rock my planet… especially if it was that hideous green color so many had…alright alright alright

  26. XTrminator

    I had a 1974 Vega hatch with 350 V8 and turbo 350 automatic. I used V8 Monza exhaust manifolds and Monza 3.42:1 posi rear differential. Also had a ’67 4-core Buick Sportwagon radiator. Wasn’t the fastest guy at the track, but still turned consistent low 14 second 1/4 miles. On the street I surprised the sh*t out of some guys with Camaros, Mustangs, Firebirds etc.!

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