3k Mile Twin-Cam: 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega

The Chevrolet Cosworth Vega really deserved to be a successful car, because a great deal of research and development went into the great little twin-cam engine that it packed under the hood. While there were probably numerous reasons why the car did not sell in the volumes that Chevrolet envisaged, the price was probably the key factor. Barn Finder Fresno Y referred this 1975 model to us to look at, so thank you for that Fresno. It is located in Kansas City, Missouri, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. Speaking of price, this one is an eye-watering $23,000.

Before we look at the physical condition of the car, let’s look at why the owner considers this particular car to be worth so much money. The simple answer on that is the mileage. During its 44-years on this planet, the Vega has only managed to cover 2,948 miles, and it appears that this might be documented. The first thing that most of you will notice is the wheels because these aren’t the distinctive gold items that were standard on a Cosworth. The owner fitted these for driving duties, but the original, pristine items are stored safely away and will be included with the car. There are a couple of minor marks in the paint, and one of these was actually inflicted by the dealer. Apparently, the dealer received this car when new, and displayed it in his showroom for two years with the hood removed so that the public could get a good look at the engine. When the car finally sold, one of the mechanics scratched a fender refitting the hood. The reason that the Vega sat in the showroom for two years was simply the price. The sticker price on a Cosworth Vega was around $6,200, but for a mere $500 more, a prospective buyer could secure themselves a new Corvette. I think that you can guess which way the majority of the buyers went on that one.

As you would expect from a car of this mileage, the interior is close to spotless. When the car is not being driven, it is kept in a garage out of sunlight, and this has allowed the whole car to remain well preserved. One of the really prone areas inside a Cosworth Vega is that superb gold, machine-turned dash. This can discolor badly over time, but this one has remained as good as new. The only real flaw that I can spot is the fact that the shifter boot looks like it has come loose at the front, so hopefully, this can be fixed.

Powering the Vega is a pretty special engine. A joint venture between Chevrolet and Cosworth, the all-alloy Chevrolet cylinder block was treated to a Cosworth-developed twin-cam cylinder head, along with fuel injection. The result was a typical twin-cam engine, insofar as it was happiest producing its power at higher RPMs. These hand-assembled engines produce 110hp, and this is sent to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. These engines were also the single reason why the Cosworth Vega was such an expensive proposition. These were hand-built in a “clean room” by teams of three workers per engine, which is a time-consuming and expensive process. The original plan had been to have the Cosworth Vega as an initial 2-year production run, and to sell 5,000 cars. The 1975 production sold a mere 2,061 cars, while in 1976, only 1,447 cars were sold. Chevrolet made the decision to end production, even though they were now sitting on nearly 1,500 of the exquisite, hand-built engines. The company eventually disassembled 500 of these for a spares inventory, while the remaining engines were scrapped. With so few miles on the clock, this Vega is a long way from worn out, but it does appear as though it has been carefully maintained. It runs and drives well, and comes with a reasonable cache of NOS parts. Documentation on this car is also interesting. It comes with everything, including the original window sticker. In what is a first for me, the owner even has the carbon paper that went between the various layers of the original dealer invoice, and all of these have been laminated to protect them.

It is entirely possible that with only 2,948 miles on the odometer, this is the lowest mileage Cosworth Vega in existence today. Of course, the elephant in the room here is the price. It’s high, which I guess is a case of history repeating itself with this particular model. It is a long way above what you would expect to pay for an immaculate example with higher miles on the clock, and the more this one is driven, the lower the value is likely to fall. I would be willing to bet that someone out there will probably buy this Vega, but I wonder whether that person is going to be game to drive it.

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Comments

  1. Fred W

    As a photographer I only notice one thing- when you want to photograph a car, don’t do it at mid day! This would look like a different car had they waited til an hour or two before dusk (or early morning). Rant now over.

    Crack pipe pricing. That said, it would be quite a conversation piece at the local shows if you had mileage documentation. The mere fact that ANY Vega survived this long is a miracle in itself. I remember seeing three year old Vegas with 2″ holes rusted in the tops of the front fenders, just in front of the windshield.

    Like 8
  2. Fred W

    Congrats to Barn Finds! You just got mentioned on the Fox News website, in an article about a Superbird, complete with a link to BF. You sure can’t buy that kind of publicity!

    https://www.foxnews.com/auto/rusty-plymouth-superbird-on-craigslist-could-be-a-250000-golden-egg

    Like 13
  3. jmolsn Member

    Hagerty has a #1 valued at $28500. Thats for a concours restoration, this is a survivor with very low mileage. In my opinion, better! But you have to look beyond; but its a Vega. If you can, then this is a keeper!!

    Like 4
    • Paul

      Last winter a 1976 Blue with white interior Cosworth and a little over 3000 miles sold at auction for $26,000. It was concours ready. Also the author has the price difference wrong. A Cosworth base sticker was just under $6100 and the base Corvette was aprox $7200 so not just $500 more. But you could also buy a Camaro for $4800 so it had a tough road to go price wise.

      Like 1
  4. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Great research here, Adam. This is the first I’ve heard about the leftover motors being scrapped-what a waste!
    This car was an opportunity for GM but like many half-hearted projects from the car manufacturers, it was doomed from the get go by the money shavers at the board level failing the standard Vega as they did which in turn failed the Cosworth Vega.
    Too, interesting fact about the Corvette VS Cosworth Vega-which one had more power to weight, and better suspension?
    You’re right about the overall question of actually driving this or not. It’s a shame for someone who appreciates machinery to leave this in a sterile environment as eye candy and not utilize it for its intended design.

    Like 5
  5. Steve

    I had a 76 Cosworth Vega … was actually an amazing car. Handled like it was on rails …. and, for a 4 cylinder … it was impressive. Bosch fuel injection … the car was ahead of the times indeed. Kinda wish I would have tucked it away and kept it.

    Like 6
    • Paul

      I have owned 3 Cosworths #210, #2466 and currently #3087 one of less than 100 painted Hugger Orange. They are fun little cars but not for everyone, mine gets more trophies and thumbs up than my Z28. Mine has an honest 42,000 miles all original and no rust plus runs great.

      Like 5
  6. Philip

    Here’s another way to look at it, or, to argue for the price.
    $100 in 1975 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $476.01 in 2019, a difference of $376.01 over 44 years.
    At $6,200 in 1975, that would be $29,512 in 2019. Of course, you certainly get a lot more options today for that money than was even imagined in 1975.

    Like 4
  7. Lynn Dockey Member

    u cant drive a car like this one should be driven, too many people don’t car about cars and will open their car doors and say oops and then laugh when they hit your car and too many distracted drivers. I sold a very low mileage 2014 Chevy SS for these same reasons. Its not fun when you have to worry about parking the car and careless drivers

    Like 4
  8. misterlou Member

    Prettiest air-injection award.

    Like 3
    • Paul

      I won best engine trophy at a local show of 400 cars last summer for my stock Cosworth :o)

      Like 2
  9. DRV

    Those engines had a thousand uses in the home brewed world.
    So I looked and couldn’t find if the original wheels came with it.
    The gold painted rims were rare too.

  10. TimM

    I only thing I would want to change is the slotted wheels!! Nice car but not in my budget!!

    Like 2
  11. Jann Halstead

    A Vega trailer queen. I’ve seen everything now.

    Like 3
  12. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Hmmmmm.

    So, the slotted mags and different tires were put on to preserve the originals so that the car could be driven. Eh, seems to have been a pointless exercise, because the car was NOT Driven anywhere at all, it would appear.

    3K miles in 44 years is certainly not driving it, unless done 1/4 mile at a time. That does not seem to be the case here. Prove me wrong.

    (Heh)

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