$7,500! 1974 Chevrolet Vega Estate Kammback


I feel guilty posting this one because this is the only photo in the Craigslist ad. But, this somewhat rare 1974 Chevrolet Vega Estate Kammback in Billings, Montana is just too perfect not to show it off! Or, I think it is, there are no interior photos and no mention of the interior what so ever, other than it has a 4-speed. And, they aren’t messing around with offers, this one is $7,500 FIRM! Don’t even think of a back-and-forth dealio on this one, bring 75 $100 bills and that’s that. Or, I guess they’d take any denomination or combination of bills, just so it adds up to $7,500. Not $7,450 or even $7,499.99. The price is $7,500. Period. For an orange “Little Woody Vega” with woodgrain vinyl on the sides, and no interior photos, and the new 5 mph bumpers front and rear, and “a little rust, but extremely minimal”.. Soooo.. yeah. The Estate Kammback included a custom interior with deluxe seats (although this orange car appears to have vinyl seats?), a sport steering wheel, wheel covers, and not one but two rear seat ashtrays! Our own Josh wrote up a similar car almost two years ago, and it has vinyl seats.

This is a one-owner car with 65,000 miles on it and it was garaged, and has been parked since 1992 and the seller just bought it from the previous owner’s family. The seller mentions recently putting $2,000 into it, “Everything gone through front to back. Starts, runs and drives like a new 74 Vega”, which I guess is supposed to be a selling point (kidding, I’d love to have this Vega). Although, it still has bias-ply tires on it, so unless you’re going to trailer it to shows I’d want to change those out to modern tires, but that’s just me. This car has, of course, GM’s 140 cubic-inch, overhead-cam, inline-four with around 75 hp. The 4-speed will help move this car a little better than the automatic would, but 78 hp isn’t a heck of a lot of power. What do you think of this car? On paper this thing checks most of my car buttons: it’s small, it’s orange (!), it’s a wagon, and a 2-door wagon at that, and it looks to be in great condition. But, that price! I’m all over a little orange woody wagon with a 4-speed, though! Anyone else like Vega wagons?


  1. Larry K


  2. Mikey

    Just what did he spend $2000 on if it has still bias tires? And if it is to be an unmolested car why did he spend two grand to do “upgrades” nevertheless he doesn’t say what the updates are. Would be a really cool car! Just a shame the person who would buy it now be the third owner. Also some more information pictures would be awesome.

  3. Chevettedudes

    2500-3000 after serious inspection just for sh*ts and giggles.

    • Vegaman_Dan

      Darn Vegas cost a lot these days. I used to buy them for $100 in the late 80’s. They have exceeded their original MSRP.

      • Richard Ochoa

        Anyone who pays that kind of $$$$$ for a :Freakin’ Vega has a Mental Disorder & needs a complete Head Examination!!!!!!!!!

  4. Vegaman_Dan

    I *love* 74 Vega Kammback wagon as my favorite, but only as a GT . These wood sides are correct, as is the orange. Tan interior as well. It would have a one barrel Rochester carb. It should also have front and rear sway bars. It might have power steering, brakes, and AC. All are correct for the car.

    I would rather have a 74 GT wagon. I’ve had 26 Vegas over the years, but the 74 GT wagon was my favorite. I wish I had one now. Maybe one the Spitfire is done.

    • mat

      2 barrel carb was an option on these.

  5. Lemble

    I think the price is a little steep, but how many Vega’s do you see that are this clean that do not have a V8 under the hood.
    I would find a Cosworth 4 cylinder to put under the hood if it was a little cheaper.

    • Vegaman_Dan

      A rebuildable Cosworth will run you $5k And still would be anemic in this vehicle. V8 is overpowered and breaking traction is not going to get you going. Nose heavy too.

      These cars were designed first the even fire 231 Buick V6 originally. One of the reasons V8’s fit is the space designed for a V block. When Ford pushed their own Pinto and the political situation with gas supplies forcing economy over power, GM was forced to go with the 2.3L four cyl. Later on they dI’d drop in the V6 in the Monza followup, and those things scooted crazy quick and were solid engines for reliability. The first manual transmissions were 3 speed Opelika models, later replaced in 73 with the standard 4 speed Saginaw used in Camaros and even Jeeps. Seats were the same in Camros as well.

      Today, the ideal combination is to drop a 4.3L V6 in there. Lots of power, fuel injection, cheap parts, and pretty smooth runners.

      Makes me daydream.

  6. Philip

    I had a red one I tricked out. No woodgrain. Removed the rear side glass and welded in metal with small plexiglass van type portholes of the small size, it had the Black Camaro interior with Borg Warner 4speed. After a full cage was installed with strut by tower braces fabricated, we dropped a 327 with 54 cc aluminum heads and a cam with headers in it. The car was garage kept previously so the paint and interior were perfect. With slicks that little wagon would pull the front end off the ground. Later I traded it to a guy fot a mint one owner 67 Camaro RS Convertible, again with a 327 stick and air, all original. The guy wrecked the Vega, crossed it up racing some guy on the street. He fixed it but it was never the same and eventually sold it. I never saw it again
    Bad little car with a V8 if done correctly. A blower makes it a genuine race car on the right motor..these are so light and fast, you easily can stay under 3.08 gears and get better traction and tip end power.

  7. JW

    Cool time capsule of the 70’s gas crunch and I like the orange color also but he’s dreaming on that price, it’s still a Vega just like the Pinto it’s nothing special just a early economy car.

    • Vegaman_Dan

      If you ever get a chance to jump in a GT model with the 110 hp two barrel carb and a set of good radials, you’d find these cars are great for autocross. They plant really well and don’t wallow. Pretty decent low end torque, but flatten out so not great on straight runs. Corners are where they do great.

      74 GT models got posi rear ends. Didn’t seem like you really needed it until you compared standard and GT models. Normally GT badging was just trim packages on cars, but it did mean something in these little cars.

  8. Howard A Member

    I’m not sure what really makes a car rare. The fact they didn’t make or sell many originally, or the fact that no one kept one of the millions made. The Vega was a good car, certainly didn’t deserve all the negativity associated with it. They just needed a maintenance schedule, and driving style that American’s weren’t used to. Price? IDK, try and find one like this today. I did find a ’75 Vega wagon on Minneapolis CL for $2500, but not near this nice. I’m sure everybody’s heard of a Vega, but never spent any time in one. Again, they were good cars. http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/hnp/cto/5855554458.html

    • 70kingswood

      lack of rust is what makes it rare…

  9. Fred W.

    So by ’74 they had the “Iron Duke”, not the aluminum block correct?

    Not sure about the rest of the country, but in Pensacola FL where I lived at the time, I watched 71-73 Vegas rust through in certain spots in a two or three year period.

    • Vegaman_Dan

      The Iron Duke didn’t come along until late 77, which was the last year of the Vega. It was the standard engine of Monzas and similar that was reliable if unexciting.

      Prior to that, the aluminum block was subject to expansion issues as the cylinder head was cast iron and the two metals expanded at different rates. If the engine overheated, the aluminum would warp and drop the center two freestanding cylinder Dees enough to compromise the head gasket. Fairly common issue. The solution was to bore out the cylinders and dry fit steel sleeves that would maintain the seal. Once set up, the engines were reliable, but the damage to the reputation was done.

      70-73 Vega’s were transported on special railcars with fold down sides where the cat would drive onto the side like a ramp, get locked down, and then tipped up by forklift until the car was stored vertically on their noses. Very different from circus loading autoracks. The problem came that the railcars were not water tight and rain water would get onto the vehicles, pooling up in places the designers could never predict. Collecting behind trim around the windshield, in the rocker panels, etc. Locations that had no drain holeso, and spots that got little to no corrosion protection during assembly- who would ever believe you need drain holes halfway up the fenders or on top of the windshield cowling? Ridiculous! As a result, the trapped moisture stayed in those locations even after delivery with no way for it to drain and no easy way to dry out. The cars actually started rusting on the show room floor.

      This transport method stopped in 1973 and all 74 and onward cars were transported normally with no more rust issues. GM also started treating those area during assembly as a precaution.

      I do miss the little buggers.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Vegaman, I had seen that method of shipment and wondered if any ill effects were caused by that. http://jesda.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/wpid-vega1-2011-04-7-16-39.jpg

      • Loco Mikado

        Think also what happened to all the oil, fluids and battery acid. Supposedly from what I read they were shipped dry but if that was the case you couldn’t drive them on or off.

  10. Rex Kahrs Member

    Back in ’76, our retired neighbor drove his 1958 Olds 88 coupe, which was a tour-de-force of 50s-era chrome and fin styling. He offered the car to me for $300, and I was crushed when he rescinded the offer, afraid that neighborly relations might be strained if something went wrong with the 18-year-old car.

    He instead traded the Olds in, and showed up one day with a brand new Vega, this same model. I couldn’t believe he’d traded that beautiful Olds and brought home that POS Vega. I’d take the $7500 and go looking for a 58 Olds.

  11. Mark S

    I’m not a Ford guy by any means but I am a mechanic. These Vegas were a POS engines that would be burning oil by 30k miles, and rust buckets in no time. The pinto on the other hand were solid little drivers that would just keep running. Did I mention that I’m not a Ford fan? Anyway side by side the pinto was the he better car over the vega. I think if you want to keep this a running econo car you swap out that engine and trans for a Toyota 22r engine and an sr5 trans and then it will last as a daily driver as long as you park it inside over the winter.

    • Vegaman_Dan

      The Pinto had the more reliable engine, but the Vega had the better styling and ‘performance’ if you can use that word for 70’s econoboxes.

      Ford had their own issues with transmissions. And the whole fuel tank placement on early models that earned their own explosive reputation. They were all pretty horrid little cars of the time by comparison to today.

      Once you sleeved the 2.3L Vega engine, it was solid and reliable. About the only real issue then was valve spring seals, but with better nitrile rubbers around 1980, this also went away, too late for the OEM, but a worthy choice when rebuilding the cylinder head.

  12. Rock On Member

    Fred W- Nope had a 1974 Vega GT 4 speed and a 1975 Vega with auto. Both were aluminum blocks.

  13. Zaphod

    Can’t tell if the $7,500! is elation or outrage…

  14. Larry K

    Grandma had yellow Vega, with stick. I liked the looks of it. Traded it in for a Hyundai pony. 😳

  15. RS

    In 1972 or so my brother and his friend and I went out looking at used car lots on a Sunday when the dealers were closed. There was a Vega GT just this color on one of the lots, all of maybe a year old? The top of one of the car’s front fenders had a funny look to it – I put my thumb on it and pressed and my thumb went right through and made a nice big hole in the top of the fender. What rust buckets these were. I think even stored in a museum they might rust out.

  16. RS

    In John DeLoren’s book “On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors” – a fascinating look at the US auto industry in the 50’s through early 70’s – John D indicated that these cars were trash forced on the divisions by the corporate engineers. Yet I still recall him appearing in print ads for the Vega, talking about the aluminum engine. He said “It’s destined to become a classic. It’s that good.” LOL

    He also said (in his book) that the first Vega prototype broke in two pieces on the test track, right at the firewall, after crossing a bump.

  17. David Miraglia


  18. John

    “…perfect Vega…”.

    The original oxymoron.

  19. matt grant

    there is a reason they stopped making them (other than people hated them). they were clunky and rattled like crazy, seriously under powered and noisy, not comfortable and, frankly, they felt unsteady and dangerous. i know, i dated a woman who had one when i was in high school. my mom’s gremlin was a better car and it was horrible!

  20. Tom

    When I was in high school my dad bought his company car , a 74 Vega wagon made for Ma Bell no back seat and no rear windows it was a major POS but I couldn’t kill it. In 80 I bought a 79 Monza Wagon with the 231 V6 4 speed a fun little car for its time. If some one gave me one today I’d drive it for old times sake but not gonna spend $7500.00 for one LOL

  21. Ck

    $7500 bucks is too much money to yank out the drivetrain and replace it with a 383 stroker a 4spd muncie and oh i dont know how bout a 9 inch ford rear .I’d leave the rest of it the way it is . Sorry but whenever i see a vega in my head this is what must be done.Go ahead give me the thumbs down.you can make believe I care if you want to.

  22. ROTAG999

    I bought new 1974 Vega GT same color orange as this wagon with motor going thru oil i bought a 75 Buick oddfire V-6 out of a wrecked Skyhawk that had only 500 miles on it.The even fire Buick V-6 did not come out till 1977. The early vegas did get the weak Opel 4speed, but believe in 1973 got the much tougher Saginaw 4 speed.
    My GT did not have posi and believe if you did not check the posi option you surely would not get it for free. Base or GT.

  23. Al Member

    Found out when I was transferred to Ft Carson that I had bought a new 76 Vega Wagon. Within 50,000 went through 2 motors and 3 heads and 1 wife. She kept the car. Bought a used Vega Panel Delivery at an auction without looking at it. Ended up the previous owner dropped and Iron Duke engine in it backed with a 5 speed trans. Kept it for 3 yrs till reassigned to German. The guy who did the mechanics did them well. Saw upwards of 40+mpg and no problems. Another car I should have kept.

  24. Rando

    I had a 73 Vega hatch. Fun car but crappy. Also had a Vega GT wagon. Yellow with green doors and a sleeved motor. We called it the “Poverty Wagon”. A lot of fun. Still a crappy car. Bought the wagon to fix the hatch. Never got around to it. Found too much rust in the hatch. I was young and a little dumb. Love this one.

  25. Seymour
  26. Cleric

    At 7.5 kilobucks, it can rust into the ground.

  27. jaymes

    dosent really want to sell it

  28. james boyd

    My uncle bill put a fire-breathing 350/4sp combo. when he gouged it in 1st or 2nd the door would pop open, warped it bad enough the hatch leaked and the drivers door was hard to shut. Oh the good old days, don’t we miss em.

  29. Ed

    I read that Vegas were sabotaged at the factory by union workers because of a labor dispute.My friend owned one when we were in high school.It was pretty cool looking, green with black racing stripes. He had to add a quart of oil to it every week, finally the engine blew . As far as Pintos, they caught on fire alot if they got rear ended and lots of people died.The fix costed a dollar per car,but Ford opted to settle claims saying it would be cheaper than a recall.

  30. Michael Greening

    I owned this exact (almost) car in 1974. Mine was the Kamback Estate GT. Black interior 4 speed and I bought a Cosworth Vega Dash insert so it had the gold swirl dashboard. When the 140 went south at about 60,000 miles like most Vegas with aluminum blocks and CI heads I swapped in a used 327 and being a 1974 1/2 Vega it was alredy set up for the small block to be available in late 1975 which I don’t believe the car never made it to. Same orange body and chrome headlight bezels too. Since I was a high school senior at the time i bought it for $3500 I added a quad 8-track take player with a custom 8 speaker install. It never won any races butv it sure did sound good. I would probably buy this car sight unseen at $4500 just for the nostlgia but at $7500 it had better be close to flawless inside as well.

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