400 V8 4-Speed! 1976 Chevrolet Vega Kammback

“Drop an SBC in it!” The owner of this 1976 Chevrolet Vega Kammback must have been listening. This is such a good-looking car that even without a monster 400 V8 under that hood it would be appealing to those of us who like unusual vehicles. The seller has it posted here on craigslist in Siren, Wisconsin and they’re asking $6,500 or best offer. Here’s a car for those of you who think that you can’t get anything fun for under $10,000 anymore.

And fun this car would be. Frankly, I was surprised to see the $6,500 asking price on this listing when I ran across it a day or two ago. The Vega itself looks like it’s in outstanding condition and a Kammback/wagon is perfect for a little car like this, providing extra hauling room. And when I saw that it had a big V8, a 4-speed manual, and no rust? Sign me up.

The Fonz says, HEEYYYYYY!!… Actually, they’re trying to cover up the license plate but I give this one two giant thumbs up. The Vega was made for model years 1971 through 1977 and yes, the early cars have nice small bumpers but as the kitchen contractor keeps telling you every time there’s a problem and the price goes up, “It is what it is.” We have to work with a later 1976 Vega wagon and that’s ok. This one has a 400 V8 in it for cryin’ out loud!

Truthfully, unless I’m missing it, I don’t see any flaws on the exterior of this car, do you? I mean other than the huge bumpers. The seller says that it has no rust and it’s been repainted and I think it really looks great. The interior also looks great other than the driver’s seat. I’d maybe go with some plaid seat inserts out of a Vega Estate Wagon for a solid 1970s vibe inside. The back seat looks great and we don’t get to see the rear cargo area or underneath.

This car seems like it’s worth $6,500 in this condition with no rust even without a monster V8 lurking under the hood. We know that this is a 400 cubic-inch Chevrolet small block, any guesses on the horsepower? The original 140 cubic-inch inline-four would have had somewhere between 70 and 80 hp. They say that it’s “pretty fresh” and it has a four-barrel Edelbrock carb and a mild cam. I would love to hear and see this one. I can’t believe that this car will be available for too long at this price. Any thoughts on this V8 Vega?


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  1. Sam Shive

    What’s up with the BUG CATCHER. Nuff Said

    Like 5
    • Melton Mooney

      It might just be the first bug catcher I’ve ever seen mounted to a two barrel carb.

      Like 4
      • Howie Mueler

        The ad says it is a 4 barrel.

        Like 4
  2. CJinSD

    The most powerful Chevrolet 400-4 barrel small block ever offered had 180 net horsepower. Fitting one in a Vega may involve rather more restrictive exhaust manifolds than were used in the large cars 400s were usually seen in. Whatever it puts out, it is probably plenty for the tires that are available in 13 inch sizes today.

    Like 3
    • Lee

      You are underestimating the 400 since you are quoting net horsepower. According to Wikipedia: The 400 was rated at 245–265 hp gross and 150–180 hp net. It developed a reputation for creating tremendous torque up to 400 lb⋅ft. A four-barrel carburetor option became available in 1974 and in theory could produce over 300hp.

      I put a 400ci motor in my 77 Vette. I can attest to the low end torque. Even with the automatic transmission it will put you back in the seat when is shifts to second gear.

      Like 1
      • CJinSD

        Gross horsepower means nothing to most car enthusiasts today, last being used in 1971. The 400’s 245 gross horsepower equated to 150 net horsepower. I had a friend who had the 400-4 in his 1975 Caprice convertible massaged by a racing engine builder. I believe he eventually achieved a 16 second quarter mile, at the cost of being constantly at risk of complete engine failure due to the siamesed cylinder bores and bad cooling of the 400 small block.

      • CJinSD

        “A four-barrel carburetor option became available in 1974 and in theory could produce over 300hp.”

        Just to be perfectly clear that engine was rated at 180 net horsepower, based on a standard about 7.5% more optimistic than the 180 horsepower compact CUVS of today.

      • Lee

        So if I took the motor out of my Vette and put it on a dyno, what hp output would it have? If Summit Racing advertise a 500hp crate motor, what is the net hp rating?

        The net rating was used to underrate the gross hp in the 70’s to keep insurance rates lower and lower the manufacturer’s liability.

        This article about net v gross hp is instructive:


      • Troy s

        The NET rating was used first used cause California said so, there’s news right? Good article, some of the engines mentioned for examples were a bit like comparing apples to oranges.

  3. Blueprint

    The rear tires are probably balding faster than me

    Like 27
    • ccrvtt

      One would hope so! Drive it like you stole it.

      Like 9
  4. Troy s

    Master blaster bug catcher, for looks like the chrome valve covers, maybe 300 hp on the dyno and I doubt that figure really. It doesnt need much more in a hapless Vega, it will go like stink!

    Like 6
  5. Jay T

    It’s gotta be too much motor for that drive train.

    Like 4
  6. Melton Mooney

    The V8 Vega thing is pretty overrated IMO. By the time you get the chassis and driveline shored up for the weight and torque of the iron SBC motor, you’ve sacrificed the charming qualities of the car, few as they are.

    Like 5
  7. Ed H

    Obviously there is no room for the traditional fan to be mounted to the front of the engine, but I do not see an electric fan either. This one might run a little hot.

    Like 3
  8. Ray

    With a Saginaw 4 speed and stock rear it wont hold together long. A high school friend built one, it keep cracking windshields.

    Like 6
  9. Bruce Hotchkiss

    Before fixing the interior as the writer suggests I’d look at upgrading brakes and suspension, getting rid of the stupid bug catcher, maybe replaced the rear axle. Heck you might as well find a bone stock example and start from scratch.

    Like 2

    Those wheels have to go…

  11. flynndawg

    does the assumingly stock front suspension handle the added weight… ???

  12. David Opdyke

    Rear not going to last for long.

  13. Howie Mueler

    Posted 26 days ago, you should remove your for sale sign in the window for the pictures.

    Like 3
  14. Big Al

    total sleeper was ruined with that obnoxious hood ornament

  15. Stevieg Member

    I would drive it like I stole it until something broke…which wouldn’t take long lol.

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