Easy Restoration? 1975 Chevrolet Vega Cosworth

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

The Vega was not one of the most exciting vehicles that Chevrolet ever produced. The company recognized some of its deficiencies, so it attempted to inject some excitement by releasing the Vega Cosworth. This version was built in strictly limited numbers and did offer buyers a notable improvement in performance. Many have now succumbed to significant rust issues, but that hasn’t been the fate of this car. It is roadworthy and would seem to represent a relatively straightforward restoration project. The Cosworth is located in Southgate, Michigan, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding now sits at $3,000, and the reserve has been met.

The seller purchased this Vega from an owner who had left it sitting in a barn since the 1990s. It started its life in San Francisco but found its way to Michigan in the 1980s. Quite often, we will see these vehicles, and they have been consumed by significant rust problems. This car does have some rust, but it seems to be minor. It has impacted the area below the battery tray, but otherwise, the Vega does appear to be rust-free. The owner states that the floors are clean, and there is no apparent exterior rust visible. The original Black paint is looking very tired, and a repaint will be on the cards. The panels seem to be straight, and the gaps appear to be consistent. The original wheels were reconditioned a few years back, and they remain very presentable. Obviously, a repaint is going to necessitate the replacement of the decals, but these are readily available. The external trim looks good, and there are no signs of any issues with the glass.

If you walked into your local Chevrolet dealership in 1975 intending to own a Vega, then the best that you could hope for was a 140ci engine that produced 87hp. However, Chevy wanted something that added a bit of street cred to the range. So they developed the all-aluminum 122ci 4-cylinder engine with a twin-cam cylinder head designed by Cosworth. In 1975, Cosworth was at the peak of its power and was sweeping all before it in Formula 1 with the Cosworth DFV engine. That made them an ideal choice for a partnership, and with the Cosworth head attached, this little engine pumped out 110hp. That might not sound like much today, but it was an impressive number in 1975. It allowed the Vega Cosworth to cover the ¼ mile in 18 seconds. These engines were treated like royalty by Chevrolet. They were assembled by hand in a “clean room,” and eventually, 5,000 were built. However, the eventual production run of vehicles across 1975 and 1976 only amounted to 3,508 cars. The decision was made to dismantle 500 existing engines for spare parts, while the remaining engines were scrapped. After sitting for so long, the owner went through all of the usual tasks to revive the Vega, and to return it to a roadworthy state. This included pulling the engine to fit all new gaskets, along with a new clutch, new tires, and a replacement exhaust. The EFI computer was also replaced, but the original is included in the sale. The transmission has a fault with the synchros, but a spare transmission is included in the sale. However, the Vega is said to drive very well. This is a classic that could be driven and enjoyed immediately.

The next owner of this Cosworth isn’t going to have to spend a lot of money on the car’s interior. It presents quite nicely, and it will only need a few minor details addressed to have it showing perfectly. The original radio is missing, but the rest of the dash looks good. The owner has replaced the dash bezel, and this looks extremely nice. All of the carpet is new, while the seats and door trims appear to be in excellent condition. Replace that radio, and you would be good to go.

When we see examples of the Vega Cosworth crossing our desks here at Barn Finds, they tend to fall into two distinct categories. They are either pristine trailer queens, or they are one tiny step removed from being destined for the crusher. To find an original and sound project car is a bit of a treat. This one seems to represent a straightforward restoration project that would offer a decent reward once completed. From a performance perspective, there are plenty of new 4-cylinder cars that will run rings around this Vega, but none of them will have the cachet that comes with wearing the name “Cosworth.” Given that brand’s illustrious motorsport history, that has to make this car something to think about.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. misterlouMember

    The engine development story is very interesting. Delorean was involved. Tarting up the Pulse Air emissions to improve the look. 3 fuel pumps???!! Hand-built in a clean room at Tonawanda and signed by the engine builder. Really pushing the envelope in the heart of the Malaise Era.

    Like 5
    • Superdessucke

      It is. Chevy came about 60 HP short of the original goal. The problem was they had to cut the compression ratio drastically from the original plan. They also of course had to bolt all the mid-1970s emissions junk onto it.

      The end result was a whopping 110 horsepower, which was actually the same as the original ’71 Vega with the optional 2-bbl carburetor, but with 38 lbs/ft less torque. Ooops! It was also about twice the price of the regular Vega and not much cheaper than a Corvette. It was such a flop that they only ended up using about 3,500 of the 5,000 engine they built for it.

      Like 0
  2. Vegaman Dan

    If it were closer…


    Like 1
  3. bud lee

    A 3.8 Pontiac engine would make this thing real sleeper .

    Like 2
    • bud lee
    • Don H

      You mean a 3.8 Buick I think.😀

      Like 3
  4. Robert Spinello

    The Vega wasn’t the most exciting vehicles that Chevrolet ever produced? Maybe not. and that was the reason for the limited edition Cosworth, because in 1975, it was the most exciting Chevrolet vehicle.

    Like 2
  5. unclemymyMember

    I like it. It’s so different from just presenting a family car in all black and calling it Grand Pace Inter-National of…whatever. A really nice and inexpensive opportunity to restore a (however wee) vehicle with a thoroughbred lineage.

    Like 0
  6. John Hutton

    Had a 73 Vega, tucked in a 327, 4spd, meech clutch, shortened Ford 9″….
    It was a very exciting Vega!!!

    Like 0
  7. Comet

    Did you use Vega and minor rust in the same sentence?……….You’re funny.

    Like 1
    • John Polacek

      A friend of mine had 4 of these. He was basically a hoarder but he thought the stuff he bought for next to nothing would make him rich someday. They were so rusty I doubt there was enough left to make one good car out of them.

      Like 0
  8. Wellington Morton

    The narrative conveys that these vehicles were built in 1975 & 1976. Even Wikopedia conveys the same information. Both are wrong! My father had a close relationship with GM as he purchased hundreds of their vehicles for the corporation where he was employed. One of the cars shipped to him was my 1974 Cosworth Vega; I still have the technical supplement supplied with the new car. The title is; “1974 Cosworth Vega, New Product Information, Chevrolet Motor Division-Product Assurance. NPI-2-74.” Printed January, 1974. The vehicle color was only black with black interior. The following year I had the same car, again only in black exterior but white was my optional interior. I’m happy to provide photos to anyone who would like to view my original GM document.

    Like 1
  9. PRA4SNW

    SOLD for $5,101.

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds