Credit Card Classic: 1977 Chevrolet Vega

$1,200 or best offer is cheap entry to the classic or collector market. Or, just for an old car that appears to be in pretty good condition, albeit modified to suit someone’s personal tastes. This 1977 Chevrolet Vega custom can be found here on Craigslist in Edgewood, New Mexico just east of Albuquerque. Thanks to Pat L. for sending in this tip!

Never seen snow! I’m kidding, of course, the seller never said that. Frankly, I’m surprised at how good this car looks for $1,200 or best offer. I automatically assume, which is rarely a good idea, that when I see a car with the rocker panel areas painted black that it has had bodywork at one point. I could be wrong and there isn’t any mention of the body at all. But, it’s hard to miss that crazy cow-catcher on the front! Someone had an idea and they ran with it.

Whoa, now that isn’t stock! I’m not sure what the twin cutouts are on each side of the bumper, or whatever that panel is. Unfortunately, this is the only photo showing the rear of the car which is different, but thankfully there is at least the one above showing the custom work on the rear of this Vega. I know that I’m weird, but I like it! The front scoop/foil/air dam/cow catcher, not so much, but the back looks pretty good to me.

Yes, a third pedal! I expected to see an automatic in this car. 1977 was the last year for the Vega and it’s hard to believe that such a well-known car, both good and bad, has been gone for over four decades now. The seller says that the interior “is complete and original. Headliner and Door panels in great shape. Needs seat covers and carpet. All gauges work. Stereo works.” This car has new struts, new tires, and new brakes. $1,200 or best offer?! That’s a steal so far.

Here’s where the bulk of the time may be spent on this car, this 84-hp, 140 cubic-inch inline-four has a blown head gasket. Now we see why this car is so cheap. Our friends at RockAuto have a head gasket for $11 so that’s hard to complain about. And, don’t fret, the air cleaner housing is there and this car has had a lot of work done on it, including “New fan belt and hoses. New timing belt. New spark plugs, distributer [sic] cap and spark plug wires.” Even with needing a head gasket, $1,200 or best offer seems like a steal for this car. I’d lose the front air dam thingy, fix the head gasket, redo the seats and drive it.

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Comments

  1. Robert Mitchell

    What a great car to pull the driveline and go with a serious small block. And all the rest, of course.

    9
  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    A really sano swap in a Vega is a 215 Buick. A buddy of mine built a ’71 with the engine and a four-speed and tricked the suspension to make it handle surprisingly well.

    Heck, go for a late-model Rover 3.9 or a Lexus V8, add a turbo and five-speed ‘box, upgrade the suspension/brakes and tires and find some Porsche owners to upset.

    9
  3. Vegaman Dan

    Not original paint. Never was a fan of tbe head or tail.lights on the 76/77 model. Notchbacks are rare though.

    Always go for GT if you find one, if only for the dash and posi rear diff.

    V8’s are simply too much for the weight. Spinning tires are all show, no go. Throw a 3.8 or 4.3L V6 and you will be crazy fast without tbe rear end trying to pass the front.

    If I find a 74 GT wagon, I will chase after it for my dream car.

    4
    • Top Jimmy

      An Avis my bill. Would love to have it as is. Pop new gasket on, machine the head and the Iron Duke should last awhile. No, don’t LS it!

      2
      • dweezilaz

        Not an Iron Duke.

        OHC 2.3 L Chevy Dura Built [Vega engines with a lot of improvements to it for 76-77.

        3
    • Shawn

      Dan, I am curious as to why you say its not original paint ? I have a ’77 Estate wagon with this very same color. Original paint on mine and showing 37,000 on the odometer.

      2
    • Bill

      Posi wasn’t standard on GT’s, but it was on Cosworths. It wasn’t but around a 40 dollar option, on the early Vega’s but available on all of them.

  4. mark

    The front air dam makes as much sense as entering a mule in the Kentucky Derby. That needs to go. I like what was done to the back of the car though. Fix the head gasket, ditch the front air dam and drive it daily back and forth to work.

    3
  5. Mr. TKD

    V8 swap on deck. Look out, streets!

    2
  6. Tirefriar

    There was a lot of thought that went into development of Chevy Vega but of course, the bean counters and federal smog got in the way of what could have been a really good car. ’71-’73 model years represented first generation and the best style of the Vega. GT option was a must with multiple circular gauges ala Pontiac Trans Am. Cast iron heads (??!!) were mated to aluminum block engines. The difference in materials and their expansions due to temperature ensured that head gasket failure was a prominent feature of the Vega. Another was a burned through cylinder wall.

    Vega did nail the styling. Its an H-platform car, same as Monza/Skyhawk/et. al. which had a full range of engines fitted to it, including V6 and V8. I know that the force of nostalgia with a V8, rear subframe and tubs is strong but today I would go for a GM 2.0 Turbo for the sake of less weight equalling better handling. Maybe it will be my answer to a question no one is asking but only after I win the Power ball.

    In the meantime I still lust after a ’75 Cosworth but with a 5 speed transmission from a ’76.

    4
    • dweezilaz

      Car & Driver’s “Reader’s Choice” for 3 or 4 years as well.

      Not exactly a ringing endorsement in hindsight. Much like the internet today.

      MT Car Of The Year. Rave reviews and just tiny post scripts on the rust and engine problems by the big rags of the period.

      Have to keep the advertisers happy.

      Still: I’d have the gasket replaced, dump the cow catcher and FGS, put the rear bumper back on it.

      Then address the seats and carpet.

      2 door notch has more rear head and leg room than the hatchback as well.

      2
    • Keefer Zeller

      Here ya go Tirefriar….everything but the 5 speed
      https://classics.autotrader.com/classic-cars/1975/chevrolet/vega/100871458

      3
      • tirefriar

        Nice find Keefer, its about as clean as it gets.

  7. irocrobb

    Black paint on lower section pretty much always spelled rust in my books. Always avoided driving to see cars that had the bottom painted in the 1980s.Hard to imagine now only looking at a black and white photo to get the idea of the cars condition.
    This car seems cheap but I bet there is lots of rust underneath.

    2
  8. RichieRich

    Always liked the styling and had a 1970 model hatchback in white with a black interior. Rust in the front fenders from mud-slinging past the inner fender and sitting in the headlight areas. Chevy supplied replacements but no labor or paint so I rattle canned it until the engine went at about 90k miles. The first head gasket went at about 45k and it dissolved due to the iron/aluminum chemistry between the head and the block. Should have done a V6 then! Later badge engineered models had a V8 but they were hot foot nightmares and handled like you’d expect from something with a weight balance of 65 front/35 rear. Small block is the way to go.

    1
  9. KKW

    It needs more than just a head gasket. The head gasket blew because the top of the block is corroded away. They were junk, I wouldn’t give $12, let alone $1200.

    2
    • Bill

      Most likely warped the cast iron head. I’ve only seen a few with the cylinders corroded, (and I’ve done quite a few), but it did happen.

  10. David Rhoces

    must have the got the paint for nothing

  11. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Bring back Credit Card Classics!

    https://creditcardclassics.com/

  12. ROTAG999

    Owned a few Vega’s in the 70’s notchback body is the ugliest of the bunch and that front cow catcher is a mess along with rearend treatment.

    1
  13. Del

    Another daily laugh via Barn Finds

  14. ACZ

    Turbo V6 Buick is the only reasonable option. The 4 banger is toast. Head gasket?? Who’s kidding who?

    1
  15. Roy L Fuchs

    I think it comes with a Chevy Chevette in the trunk,

  16. Patrick Farmer

    Vegas are made of compressed rust.

    1

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