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Cosworth Comparo: Vega Project vs. Vega Survivor

Cosworth Vega Comparo

When we featured a Vega Cosworth a while back, we were intrigued by the fact that these American compacts were powered by a Cosworth built twin cam. While searching for new finds, we stumbled across two Cosworth Vegas which are currently listed for sale on eBay. They are both from 1975 and are identical. The only difference between them is the price and condition.

1975 Cosworth Vega Barn Find Passengers Side

First up is our warehouse find project car. You can view the eBay listing here. This car had been sitting in a warehouse for 25 years until just recently when the seller pulled it out and got it running. It may run, but this car has problems. When you look at all that rust, it is hard to imagine that this car only covered 51k miles and then lived inside for twenty five years. The seller is optimistic claiming that it just needs a paint job.

1975 Cosworth Vega Barn Find Interior

The interior is rough here too. Torn seats and a few other problem areas that will need attention. This Vega is located in Kentucky and the bidding is at $511 with no reserve. We predict that this one will go cheap since it is so rough. Could it make financial sense to restore?

1975 Cosworth Vega Survivor Passengers Side

Our second one is a survivor quality car and it looks perfect after the previous example. The amazing thing here is that this Vega only has 7k miles on the odometer! The price reflects the low mileage though with a buy it now price of $6,500. The car is located in Louisiana and you can view the listing here.

1975 Cosworth Vega Survivor Interior

The interior looks like new here. The seller claims that is is all original and that is not hard to believe considering the low miles. The only area here that would give us concern is the engine. The seller does not mention much about the mechanical condition of the car or much about anything for that matter.

1975 Cosworth Vega Survivor Fender

Which car would you choose? A cheap project or a pricey survivor? If we were in the market for one of these, the answer would be easy. The most important thing to remember when purchasing a vintage car is to only buy the best you can find. A project car may seem inexpensive at first, but it may end up costing you more time and money than it’s worth.


  1. Corey

    I would love to see the paint job that fixes that barn find….wow….

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  2. Pete

    My neighbor had a new one of these, painted a dark green metallic; at first, we all thought “So what ? A special edition Vega is still…. a Vega” – only after trying to chase him around in a Mustang with a V-8 one night did we ‘get it’… cool little collectormobile !

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  3. J. Pickett

    They are rare because they didn’t sell. Overpriced, underpowered, delayed introduction. The Cosworth head helped. But the Vega bottom end could never stand revs. Emissions issues really sucked horsepower.

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  4. RealDonn

    Get both. The rusted Vega already has one part the other car needs – the chrome trim piece for passenger side, rear window. Otherwise it is probably unobtanium.

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  5. CJ

    Wouldn’t want either, but if I did I would buy both. Drive the pretty one and keep the other as a parts car. Now that was easy, wasn’t it? :)

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  6. ConnShark

    These cars were never my “cup of tea”…as in I could not run away from either fast enough. A POS in 1975 is just an older, rustier POS in 2011.

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  7. Bruce

    The rusted Cosworth is an example of what they looked like after a short period of time, in Detroit. This was the first car I ever looked at in a new car showroom where I was able to point out to the salesman, the rust under the hood. A shameful example of GM’s current offerings.

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  8. Foxy

    @ J Pickett, you are right about the price. I first saw one of these in ’75. You could have a nice GT Vega for less then 2 grand, but the sticker on the Cosworth was over 6 grand. As for being underpowered you are wrong there. In ’81 I traded for a used ‘

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  9. Barn Finds

    Buying both does seem like the best answer here guys. I hadn’t even thought about that one.

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  10. J. Pickett

    Sorry memory fades. I was a Chevy salesman in 72 I sold the only Yenko Stinger Vega we had that year, a b***h to get rid of. Yenko added lots to the sticker, they claimed forged pistons to compensate for dealer installed turbo. I also sold it with the turbo. Service mgr wanted my head. To get back to my trepidations when the man from Yenko came by he let salesman take it for a ride. “DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES GO OVER 5000 RPM’! One of the guys did and he had to go back to Pennsylvania smoking. Standard long stroke Vega could not stand high revs. My wife brought one to our marriage. 5 years, 45000 miles, always garaged, Rusted to hell, 50 miles on a qt of oil and 250 on no.3 plug. The cowl moved if you turned the wipers on.

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  11. Foxy

    @J Pickett, after owning both the cosy, and a 71GT. I can say for sure , with a turbo installed on a 140 block, it would take more then forged pistons to keep it together. The cosy on the other hand would handle a turbo for sure. I would like to see the y

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  12. J. Pickett

    I have seen a few v8 Vegas around here. They seem to run good. The original Vega GT Drove and handled nicely. The problem in the mid-west is that seeing a stock Vega today is like finding Bigfoot. They rusted miserably. I have never seen a Yenko since I sold that one in 72. I wonder how those v8’s handle. Would seem a bit nose heavy. After searching thru Yenko sites I was finally able to find one with good pictures. http://www.yenko.net/features/2001/January2001.htm

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  13. Pat

    Had four of these Vega’s. Camback with a 427 big block, GT with a 375hp 327 and 2 cosworths. The Cosworths were fun as hell and I’d like another. The 427 was flat scarey but damn it was fun. Once I got the 327 sorted and the handling upto par it was a very nice daily driver with plenty of power. All of them rusted badly…..

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  14. J. Pickett

    The Kamback was nice. I always thought the fastback quite attractive. I would like to have the chance to get a nice one now and put in an aluminum crate motor with a modern overdrive trans. Now that’s a dream project. As for the rust. I had a neighbor whose Vega rusted so badly the courtesy light switch punched a hole in the door and kept the light on all night and drained his battery.

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  15. Foxy

    @J Pickett,, Thanks for the pics. My ’71 GT was that color blue with a black stripe. When I had the Cosy, I let a buddy of mine that owned a ’71 with a 327 and the saginaw 4-speed. I let him drive the cosy and I drove his v8. I didn’t like the v8 at all.

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  16. Jim A

    At 18, I got a job at GM, where they just finished a 4 year run of Impala’s and Firebird’s. They revamped the entire plant and built the first run of Vega’s. I got to see and work on the entire run of that model, (Cosworths included), and was shocked at how badly a new car could be. They were rusting before the body panels were welded together. The Orange peel paint was a factory standard. Very few of the cars lasted more than 25k mi. before they self-destructed. The standing joke was buy a Vega and they will pay you to take it away. By the end of the first year of production, local dealers tried to steer you to a different model. Lastly, because of terrible cars like this, the Japanese entry vehicles got a huge foothold in our market.

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  17. Foxy

    @Jim A. I bought my GT used, but with low miles. It was a ’71, but I bought it in late ’72. The fit and finish seemed great it was that baby blue I called it with a black stripe. I had to trade in my ’70 Roadrunner 440+6brl. I was getting married on a GI’

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  18. J. Pickett

    In my brief career as a Chevy salesman, (shame!) one of the things I liked about Vegas in 1972-3 was how easy they were to sell. I did sell a Yenko. But the one that embarrasses me 40 years later had to do with a standard fastback. One day a young couple came in with a baby on the way and a 1970 LS5 Malibu SS. He needed to get something with gas mileage, lower insurance that she could drive. I ended up selling them a Vega Hatchback with standard engine A/C and powerglide. I sold it by showing them that the savings in gas would more than cover the payments. He loved his SS, but didn’t have much equity. Every time I read about an original owner muscle car in a mag. I think of him. I hope the savings helped his young family. He probably sometimes thinks of the SS. But then again I think of the Mach I I let go of for $1100.00 in 1973. A 1969 428 Cobrajet with shaker ram air hood. Oh well then they were just old cars we couldn’t afford to feed anymore. Who knew?

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  19. Corey

    My grandfather maintained until the day he died that the worst car he ever owned was a ’69 Hemi Road Runner. He said it literally started falling apart the second he drove it off the lot. It blew two transmissions in a year, the trunk was rusting out….he said it didn’t matter how fast it was when the hood was open all the time. Who knew the cat hr told the dealer to shove and walked away from would be a 6 figure rarity today?

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  20. Foxy

    @J Pickett, Like you and many others, I had a muscle car, it was a ’70 roadrunner with a bullet proof 440+6 with the cast iron 4spd and dana60 rearend. I had just gotten married and had a little one on the way. I only gave $1995. for the car in ’71. It ha

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  21. J. Pickett

    The first Japanese cars in the U.S. were ugly, slow and rust prone. Three things made them a success, Opec, price (and believe me there was dumping) and lastly they had initial quality. An example, in 1979 (I was told by a zone rep) the average warranty cost per car for a GM make was over $200.00 the average cost for the same make’s jap captive import was $20. The designers limited their options and colors and set things like moldings and other small items so that they couldn’t fit out of alignment. They only fit one way. Of course they missed out on some things like rustproofing, but the Europeans did too. The recalls on GMs of the 70’s were for engine mounts or fan blades or bolts of the wrong material. The recalls from Honda from the same time were for premature rust on front fenders on Accords and rust around suspension mounting points such that 3 year old cars had to be bought back and crushed. Cross members broke, strut mounts broke. They learned. Detroit especially Gm didn’t look over their shoulder.

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