Another Cosworth! Is This The One For You?

v1

We have featured quite a few Cosworth Vegas on this site, and inevitably like their Pinto rivals (ok, that’s a stretch, there isn’t much of an equivalent Pinto performance package, but bear with me) they are very polarizing; some folks (like me) are intrigued by the handsome styling and high tech (for the time) specifications, others dismiss it as an under powered failure of a vehicle that was rarely loved in the first place. This particular 1976 Cosworth Vega is #3329 and is located in Orlando, Florida. It’s up for sale here on eBay, where the buy it now is $8,000 but lower bids are encouraged.

c4

I personally find the story behind this car a little sad. The seller claims they purchased this supposed 8,800 mile car for their 16 year old (cool parent!) but they are apparently unable to learn how to drive a manual transmission (not so cool child). It appears the car has been repainted with a driver-level paint job (appropriate for a 16-year old’s car) and only requires a striping kit ($209 + shipping) and a carpet set ($159.52 with free shipping) to be ready to go.

v2

I know a lot of you don’t agree with me, but I love the lines of the later Vegas. I can even put up with the big bumpers. This is a particularly attractive angle, showing off the useful hatchback area. I really believe that this could be a useful daily driver, as long as you kept up with the potential body corrosion issues.

v3

The interior of the car is the main reason that the 8,800 mile claim doesn’t have me doubting. It really does look nice. Actually, the carpet looks nice to me here, but there must be some bad spots. The story goes that the car sat in Pennsylvania for 14 years without being driven, only to be “rescued” by the seller about a year ago. It’s had a lot of light refurbishment since then, such as new paint, battery, exhaust, plugs, wires and a good cleaning.

v4

I would argue the under hood area could stand for some more cleaning, but it does look stock and un-abused. I would love to be driving this every day, and I say that as a Ford lover! What do you readers think?

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Comments

  1. Dave Wright

    If you wanted this to drive every day, you would need a chevrolet pickup to go with it so you could make it to work ………………….

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Dave, I drove Triumphs and the occasional MG and Austin-Healey as daily drivers, covering an average of more than 20k miles per year, from the time I was 16 until I was 50 (2013) as daily drivers. A Chevy Vega, even a Cosworth one, would be easy-peasy. With the right preventative maintenance and a little bit of spares and tools carried with you it’s not that hard.

      • Dave Wright

        How many times were you late to work?………….

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Actually, only once as a result of the car breaking down. I’ll bet that’s below the average for the miles and trips I drove.

  2. Scotty G Staff

    This looks like a heck of a nice car, even at $8,000, and it sounds like they’re willing to take less than that to pay for a few odds and ends. Nice find!

  3. Dave at OldSchool Restorations

    These are ” interesting ” cars to own. I assume , since it’s a later one, it has a 5 speed w/ overdrive top gear. The car appears to be worth the asking price ( subject to close inspection)

    ………Not really a ” drivers ” car, as the performance is far below what you expect it would be. The Cosworth was hyped, but by the time EPA finished with it, it was/is anemic, That is why many sat on dealers floors for a looong time. I have owned two, both 4 and 5 speed, and did not keep them long because they really lacked performance.

    As far as Jamie’s Pinto comparison, there are a LOT more performance options available reasonably for the Pinto, and if properly prepared I believe the Pinto is much more spirited and more fun to “drive” ( and cheaper to maintain.

    But clean ones are not common, and if I wanted to own one again, I would ” fly and drive ” , and maybe buy it.

    • Dave Wright

      Off course the Pinto platform benifited by the British obsession with racing, The Formula Ford to the 2 Ltr racing classes. Or even the early Anglia 1100 engines. It was always amazing that an engine for a FF could cost as much to build as a F3 that had twice the power, but the compition was brutal in these classes that were designed as inexpensive entry legal open wheeled race cars. So Brutal a big guy like me had no chance at being really competitive. A little guy that weighed 50 lbs less would pull away in a straight away……………The best “street” Coswworths were the Mercedes 190E 16V. Now that is an engine……

  4. Alan Brase

    I don’t understand what would make it so unreliable. Is the DOHC engine that fragile? Nothing else on the car is!
    I bought a heavily used 1973 Chevy Vega GT Hatchback with a busted rear axle in Sept 1973 for $800. Jacked it up in the seller’s garage, noticed the R&P was MOSTLY intact, so paid about $20 for spider and side gears and gasket and drove it home, hoping the ring gear would make it. It made it another 7 years. I LOVED that car. (This was the 2.5mph bumper model that was a bit prettier than subsequent year models.) I admit that I did a little tweaking with the Holley-Weber carb jetting and advance curve. The engine used a little oil and there was some vibration, but all in all a great daily driver. I was 24 year old and drove the STUFF out of it. EVERY DAY. (No hole shots, with that ring gear, tho.) I think I could really dig a Cosworth version. Did It have a 5 speed? Mine would have been better with a 5 speed. Finally gave it to a younger friend that was also a Chevy guy.
    I say- anybody can learn to drive a stick. Just gotta have the right teacher, a car with a big flywheel, and let them make mistakes in private. My diesel Vanagon helped a couple young people learn. One friends daughter, 20 years later, says: I ONLY drive a stick!

  5. Tirefriar

    Ok, i happen to dig Cosworth Vega. ’75 is the only year I’d go for because of California smog exemption even if I can’t get the 5 speed. Very interesting read on the car’s history. This was not a slap together parts bin special but a car that was specifically pursued by GM.

    So here’s the skinny. This summer I’m selling my 2001 E39 Touring and one of the candidates on my list is a ’75 Cosworth Vega.

    • Rocco

      Is there any possibility that a ’75 had a 5-speed(as an option)? I bought one with a bad eng. in the early ’80’s, and I’m 100% sure it was a ’75. I remember that I couldn’t use the tranny for my V-8 conversion, because it was a weak 5-speed that wouldn’t even bolt up. I had that tranny laying around for 25 yrs. And car guys would comment how bad it was.

  6. Al Member

    Got a Vega wagon/panel delivery for $225 at an auction. Didn’t look at before bidding cause I wasn’t planning on buying. But something about got me into it and I won. Found out it had an Iron Duke 4 in it and it was 4 speed. Got me back and forth to work and camping for 3 years till I moved on the a Subaru and passed the Vega to a friends kid. Oil, gas filters and tires were about all that it needed during that time.

    • Dave Wright

      AL……you broke the code…….the iron duke 4 is a great engine. One of the best Mercruiser ever used. If they would have come originally with that engine they would have run forever (or until the body rusted off)

  7. Doug Weaver

    I just think there are an enormous amount of cars out there for $8,000 I’d much rather have. These cars to me were just boring. Same era Mercury Capri 2800,V6, much more interesting to me. A girlfriend had one and was actually pretty fun to drive. You can buy Corvettes for $8,000, Mustang GTs and even Trans AMs, Camaros and the like for $8,000 and just as well cared for and restored if you want to call this little car restored.

    Again just my opinion but I say ‘yawn’ and keep my $8,000.

    My daily driver is a PRISTINE 1990 Volvo 240 that’s much more valuable in my eyes than this little car.

    • Tirefriar

      “Much more valuable in my eyes…” That’s just it David. Back in the early 2000’s I worked for two well known local Volvo dealers and aware of the value that 240’s presented. I actually had two customers on the show room floor almost get into a scuffle over a freshly traded in 245 with about 30k miles. As a used car manager I had ample opportunities to purchase clean 240 cars but they didn’t do much for me. Cosworth Vega on the other hand is something that I see quite a bit of value in – in the way they were constructed at the GM, the work that went into creating these, etc.

      I would jump on this car for $7k but it’s a ’76, meaning it would have to pass CA smog which is not only emissions but visual as well. Most of my fun cars were pre ’76 as I like to keep things as simple as possible. Perhaps this is the reason why I switched to bikes as my weekend decompression devices.

      • Doug Weaver

        I appreciate your opinion I just have a much different one with regards to survivor cars being used for a daily driver.

  8. Ric Parrish

    I don’t know how to drive an automatic.

  9. Alan (Michigan)

    Someone asked the bottom line on the car, and the seller responded $7K.
    Unless someone wants a restored original, what is the upside for getting power from one of these? Remove the smog items, and get with some intake improvements?

  10. JerryS

    My Pinto became a pretty good runner with intake and exhaust mods. We went thru the GM proving grounds while they were trying to get the Cosworth thru emissions testings. The GM engineers were more depressed over the loss of 100 hp than most of the fans on these pages

  11. Tirefriar

    @Doug
    My motto is if I don’t ride/drive it then I shouldn’t own it. My daily commute is 5.5 each way. It can be all streets or 1/3 freeway with rest on street. I drove a’69 Berlina to work on daily basis with no issues, even in 100* heat. The way I figured that this was the way it was done before me for 45 years, so why am I any different? I’d rather see a survivor car being used than just squirreled away in the corner of the garage just to be forgotten for x-number of years. True, there’s always a possibility of an accident but then it can happen at any time you are on the road. Even if it does, there are always good source of parts available to fix it. I have a Bimota SB8R with lots of unobtanium carbon parts and you bet I take that to the canyons when I can. Why bother owning something that you are afraid ride/drive?

    • Alan (Michigan )

      +1
      I’ve been calling that the “Leno attitude”.
      Jay’s policy for his collection is that all of the cars and bikes in his garage must run, so that he can drive/ride any one of them, any time he wants. And he does. Drive them, that is.

  12. Elliott Member

    Wow! this one even has the rare and desirable swing out rear windows!! :-)

  13. Bar_king

    I like Vegas even with the history but I have driven some cool Pintos. The 302 wagon was hard to drive without spinning the wheels. When I went to look up a link for that I found this 460/202 HP model. Varoom.

    http://www.nadaguides.com/Classic-Cars/1976/Ford/Pinto/2-Door-Station-Wagon/Values

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Running a site this large isn’t cheap Jim, so selling shirts is one way we can pay the build without charging you to read it. No one is forcing you to buy them though. Also, how have we stayed from our original idea? Things are about the same as they have always been, expect we feature more cars and have more voices. There is more variety so it’s more likely there is something you like on here everyday.

  14. Chris A.

    Jesse, this is my favorite car forum as there are people who really know what they are talking about and also have a sense of humor. I like the car variety, and more so, these are cars I can actually afford. So far every one of the cars I’ve owned have eventually shown up on this site (even a Borgward Isabella TS) and It’s just fun to see the comments. As for shirts, I want one from Jay L. that says “I read Barn Finds”.

  15. Tom

    I drove a Cosworth Vega daily from 1979 to 1989, put 30K miles on it. Never a failure of any kind. Very reliable, fast and economical car. Lots of fun. Surprised many another car on the road. I came from driving big block Chevys and was not disappointed in the fun factor. I still have that car. It is in process of restoration.

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