Chevy Vega Clone: 1978 Pontiac Sunbird Wagon

The Pontiac Sunbird was a copy of the 1970s Chevy Monza, which was also duplicated by Buick and Oldsmobile. A station wagon was added to the lineup in 1978, but it was a rework of the discontinued Astre, which itself had been a rebadged Vega. The Sunbird wagon was only offered for two years, and this one has only had two owners in its 44 years. It’s a running vehicle that needs a fair amount of cosmetic attention. Located in Oceanside, California, this seldom-seen Pontiac is available here on craigslist for $4,500. A tip of the hat to Pat L. for another interesting tip!

Chevrolet produced the Vega from 1971 to 1977 and Pontiac rebranded it in the U.S. from 1975 through 1977. The Kammback version of the Vega/Astre would live on for two more years as the Sunbird station wagon. Production numbers weren’t large with 8,424 copies made in 1978 and another 2,902 in 1979 before Pontiac pulled the plug. The original Sunbird itself ceased production after 1980.

This mini wagon has a lot of rough edges, but we’re told it runs and drives at 90,000 miles, but the seller doesn’t say how well it does those things. We assume there’s the venerable “Iron Duke” inline-4 under the hood and it’s paired to an automatic transmission. There is no mention of rust, but the bronze paint job looks used up and the fake woodgrain paneling is faded and flaking. It had a roof rack when it was new, but that hardware is now MIA.

Besides cosmetics, we’re told the speedometer needs work, the driver’s door handle doesn’t function, and there’s one flat tire, but a new replacement comes along for the buyer to install. The Pontiac has not been registered for road use in a while, so California buyers will have to do some schmoozing with the DMV. The cost of restoring this wagon would probably exceed its future value, so is this a suitable candidate for a restomod engine swap?


  1. Steve

    You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.


    I had the Sunbird with the iron duke and it was a great little car. Drove very well and had no issues. It was the “GTO orange color”.

    Like 9
  3. Psychofish2

    By ’78 the body had all the improvements the original Vega got over the years.

    Plus the most troublesome aspect, the 2.3 Vega engine, though re-worked and called the Dura-Built in ’76 was replaced with the still better Iron Duke.

    It’s sort of what the Vega should have been at introduction.

    The Iron Duke is so funky and simple, I’d leave it just as it is. Nothing more symbolic of GM in the ’70s. They crack me up. Suddenly it’s 1932!

    Actually taking an N Body Tech4/Iron Duke to church this morning.

    What a great find.

    Like 12
  4. Claudio

    This is quite an oddball
    I don’t think its worth the asking price but i always get stumped by stupidness


    This is the kind of car I love to see on Barn Finds. I remember when the Vega came out and what an awful thing it was, but it improved over time, and rebadged versions are so much fun to see. Kudos on this find.

    I still have a desire to make a 1985 Cimarron convertible out of a combination of a Cimarron four-door and a Cavalier convertible.

    Like 6
    • CCFisher

      I distinctly remember a small piece in an early-80s Motor Trend that said a Cimarron convertible was under serious consideration. There was an illustration.

      Like 1
    • PT

      sick minds

  6. Chris

    I feel a little silly for asking but what is electronic fuel control? I didn’t think fuel injection or electronic carburetors were around on GMs small cars until the 80s.

    Like 1
  7. Claudio

    As of august 17 it is still up for sale , i wonder why ?!!!

  8. Danny M

    It’s a beautiful looking car. I’m only coming across it now because I’ve been doing a search everywhere for this Vegas so last night. As I was browsing through Craigslist for a different car I stumbled across an absolutely gorgeous Vega wagon for sale in the Phoenix Arizona area. Since it was almost 2:00 a.m. I didn’t want to send an email or call the number, because well it would be about 11:00 there and I didn’t want his phone to chime that he’s got an email if he said it’s set up so. Anyway woke up this morning refreshed my screen on Craigslist and it said the owner had removed this ad. Which was really upsetting because at least I wanted to be able to copy that ad. They had a lot of amazing pictures of a yellow wagon and absolutely mint shape. The asking price was for Seven Grand and I guess I should have been surprised that it went so quickly. It had about 105,000 miles on it with the 4-cylinder engine and no air conditioning. I believe it was a 76. Anyway I thought the car looked beautiful and I actually had dreams of it last night putting a grab her hood on it and adding a small boost turbo charger to it, with an aftermarket electronic fuel injector. Better yet, maybe finding a Cosworth four-cylinder to put into it. Anyway this is literally a case of when you snooze you lose. LOL. I wonder if this one is still available

    Like 1

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