It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green: 1975 Chevrolet Vega

To paraphrase the great sage (no pun intended) of our time, Kermit the Frog, It ain’t easy bein’ green. Chevrolet found that out when it produced this car. Well, not this particular 1975 Chevrolet Vega, but, in general, the Vega. This green machine is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and it can be found on Craigslist with an asking price of $1,995. Here is the archived listing.

I didn’t expect to see this boy-racer wing on the back, but other than that it’s a pretty solid looking car. The seller says that this car has a “Solid body driven here from out west.” This is a notchback but there were also hatchback, wagon, and even panel delivery body styles available. There was a lot of hype, thought, and buildup to the release of the Vega, even including how they were designed to be shipped vertically in rail cars, that it should have absolutely dominated the market for small cars. We know now that it didn’t. But, over two-million of them were still sold between 1970 and 1977.

There appears to be a little rust in the cracks and crevasses but compared to a Midwest car it does look pretty solid. The floors look like they could be fixed without too much trouble, most likely a solid weekend for sure. Lay down some Dynamat under the new carpet, fix a couple of areas on the seats (no word on if a back seat is even included) and you’re set. Well, maybe not set, check out the A-pillar on the photo above, is that crunched? Ouch. I can weld but that repair is light years beyond my skill level. I’m guessing that a lot of Barn Finds readers have done more intensive repairs than that.

There were supposedly over 250 changes to the Vega for the 1975 model year. Maybe the biggest change was offering the fuel-injected Cosworth Vega, Chevy’s first production electronic fuel-injection on a passenger car. This is GM’s 2.3L inline-four that would have had 90 hp when new. This engine with its cast-aluminum block became somewhat legendary, and not in a good way. The 1976 and 1977 cars had a redesigned engine which helped with the cooling problem. The seller says about this example, it “runs and drives, has full tank of gas , you can drive it home.” If the bodywork isn’t a deal-breaker, this could be a fun little project.

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Comments

  1. FarmerBoy

    In the fall of 1975, my wife decided that we needed a better/newer car than the ancient Toyota wagon we were driving so we went to the nearby Chevrolet dealer where they had a new Vega wagon in this same color with an automatic. Salesman wouldn’t let us drive the Vega but kept pushing us to a huge Impala wagon. We gave up and left to buy another Toyota. In hindsight I guess I should go back there and thank them for not selling us the Vega :)

  2. Phil B

    I have a number of 1974 Spirit of America parts (mostly front end and dash) and have tried to find a new home for them, but have been unsuccessful. Wonder if there are any Vega fans that could find them a place where they could be loved.

    • CATHOUSE

      I have had pretty good luck selling Vega parts on ebay. Most sell the first time I list them. They do not bring big money but I was happy with what they sold for.

  3. Chevrolet Baby

    My mom had a dark green 74 notch back dad bought from his fellow Chevrolet corporate employee in 1984. Paid $200 for it. Horribly rusty since it was an orig. Pennsylvania car. Had the 1 bbl Rochester carb w/4spd. Would climb the 6% grade out of downtown PDX going West in 4th gear at 65mph. Really! Didn’t burn oil either! Best part was shifting gears w/o using the clutch. For a grand I’d buy this one! Still have my orig. 77 Vega motor and 350 THM trans as back up!

  4. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Not sure about the big tach and wing, but I really like the NHRA emblem on the front bumper. I was in the neighboring small town yesterday and saw a black Vega in my rear view mirror. I pulled over to check it out, as he passed it turned out it was a wagon in great shape. Kind of hate to say it but it made my day.

  5. PAPERBKWRITER

    Saw a finished Vega wagon at a car show with a Chevy smb, 4-speed, and nice wheels. I loved it but I’ll bet the guy was a long way under water on that build.

  6. MGSteve

    Someone can fact check, or ??? this perhaps Urban Myth. That said, I have heard from a friend who worked at GM during this period, that one of the initial issues of shipping these cars vertically on rail road cars was that no one thought to leave the batteries out. Hence, when they arrived at their destination, the acid had been pouring out, for xxxx miles, causing considerable damage . . . and probably not doing the batteries a world of good either. The story goes that subsequent to this “learning opportunity”, a memo came out stating that batteries would be instaalled by the dealer.

    • DweezilAZ

      No, the batteries didn’t leak. They were shipped with all fluids and batteries as they were designed to be shipped in the Verti Pack containers.

      From Amusing Planet: “Chevrolet’s goal was to deliver Vegas topped with fluids and ready to drive to the dealership. In order to be able to travel nose-down without leaking fluids all over the railroad, Vega engineers had to design a special engine oil baffle to prevent oil from entering the No. 1 cylinder, batteries had filler caps located high up on the rear edge of the case to prevent acid spilling, the carburetor float bowl had a special tube that drained gasoline into the vapor canister during shipment, and the windshield washer bottle stood at a 45 degree angle. Plastic spacers were wedged in beside the powertrain to prevent damage to engine and transmission mounts. The wedges were removed when cars were unloaded.”

      • MGSteve

        Hi Dweezi–I can’t believe I’m even responding, because I’m no fan of Vegas, but did want to pursue the “thread” with my good friend, who was a GM engineer, specifically working on the Vega, during that time. He confirmed that the INITIAL cars were shipped vertically, with the batteries installed. This caused considerable damage . . . not to mention angst and embarrassment. It was very shortly thereafter that the Verti Packs you mentioned were mandated. Better late than never, I guess.

  7. Del

    Worst car ever built ny GM.

    The aluminum heads were crap.

    There should have been a class action suit brought.

    I had the Pontiac Astre. Same car. Dumped it quick.

  8. David Miraglia

    Rustoeum on wheels

  9. moosie Craig M. Bryda

    I was a Chevy parts guy back when these beauties first came out and I remember an old time mechanic whose penance was to repair these ” gems ” when they came in for warranty repairs. He was the same poor soul that was tasked with correcting wayward Corvairs. So when he worked on these Vegas he said he preferred Corvairs because they didn’t leak water into the oil. R. I. P. Joe

  10. Gary

    Had a ’73 Vega GT…hatchback…good looking little car but engine was crap…oil consumption 10 miles to the quart..aluminum block didn’t hold up…46000 miles…car was finished…

  11. Paul

    Vegas, Pinto’s and Mustang II’s oh my. What a time.

  12. Mark P

    When I see pictures of how these shipped it reminds me of the movie I Robot, the way the killer robots were delivered. Sounds like GM put more thought into how to ship them than they did into the cars design.

  13. Shawnga Shawn Gerhardt Member

    Can’t say they were the best vehicle Chevy ever offered but at one time was the second highest priced offered in the GM line-up with the Cosworth. I’m pretty happy with my ’77 Estate Wagon. Spends a lot of time in the garage but starts and runs well every time I want it to. Yeah, it will get a 350 some day but not rodded out. Nice stock sleeper.

  14. Jacob

    I actually ended up buying this for 1500 absolutely love this thing drove it around all summer no issues. Plant on swapping a V8 in it this winter. Definitely was worth the money. 😊 Kermit an I are very happy

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