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Economy Muscle? 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega

I’ve come to realize my definition of “driver quality” is a bit looser than the way many people define it. A car that’s a single color (with presumably original paint), runs, and can be driven safely is where I start. This 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega may be such an example. It was sent to us by an anonymous Barn Finds reader who found it here on eBay in Westfield, North Carolina. After 8 bids the current bid price is $1,875, but there is an option to buy-it-now for $4,800.

As muscle cars were becoming less muscle-y and economy cars were on the rise, Chevrolet took a shot at a performance economy car, which came in the form of the Cosworth Vega. High prices apparently stifled interest, as just 3,508 Cosworth Vegas were built during its 2 model years. The sticker price was nearly double a base Vega and just a bit shy of a same year Corvette.

For 1975 the Cosworth Vega could only be ordered in black paint with gold trim. While they added some paint options for 1976, most of the 3,508 built were painted black as seen here. This one looks like it’s spent considerable time outside and hasn’t been the beneficiary of regular exterior upkeep. Rocker and rear quarter corrosion can be seen in the photos as well as some paint peeling and surface rust.

The interior minimally needs a thorough cleaning. The seats look faded and the driver side seat bolster is torn. Carpet looks worn and ready to be replaced. Hard surfaces look like what you’d expect in a 45-year old car. The floor-mounted manual shifter keeps with that performance theme Chevrolet was going for.

Under the hood is where the Cosworth really becomes the Cosworth. A twin-cam all-aluminum inline-four 2.0L is what really made that sticker price double. That was good for about 110 HP and 107 lb-ft of torque. There’s no mention of any upgrades or upkeep on the engine in this one, but the seller tells us they use it as a weekend driver, so we know it runs. While it may have been mechanically maintained, its physical appearance is rather unkempt.

While the Cosworth Vega fizzled out pretty quickly when new, they’ve become fairly collectible. This 1975 example may need some love, but can be used as-is just as the current owner is doing. If you’re into short-lived performance economy cars, this one may be worth a look.


  1. Jack M.

    It seems that almost all of your write ups are from anonymous tippers Jonny. But as my father used to say, it is good to specialize in something!

    Like 2
  2. Vegaman Dan

    A running Cosworth is worth an easy $5K in any body condition. Just the engine alone can run that much.

    And it’s a 75, which used the same front clip as the 74 before they went to hidden turn signals and a more blunt front nose. The tail lights also are simple.

    I’d not hesitate to snatch this one up if it were in my area.

    Like 1
  3. Unobtanium Matt

    I’m glad you brought up the “driver quality “ issue. I’m in complete agreement with you on where that definition starts. But opinions on this vary quite a bit, especially when it comes to a seller’s description. If you can drive it to get ice cream, it’s a driver. If it goes back and forth in your yard, it just has a running engine.

    Like 4
  4. JoeNYWF64

    I wonder if there were any test mule cosworth notchbacks(with a trunk) or even wagons! Or any made in mexico or brazil with the motor?
    On Chevy’s smallest/narrowest car back then, it had radio & HVAC controls side by side to the right of the driver where they belonged.
    While camaro & huge wide impala had HVAC controls on the left side of the driver- ridiculous!

    Like 2
    • John Portman

      I had one that was a station wagon not sure how many was built. Ran good but you couldn’t peg the 140 mph speedometer

      Like 0
  5. Dennis M

    Had the opportunity to drive a fairly new one back in the day and it was a serous hoot on a twisty road. There were a lot of suspension mods included in the Cosworth package that made it an all around performer – a serious ‘pocket rocket’!

    Like 1
  6. Steve Bush Member

    Sadly, the Cosworth Vega ended up like a lot of GM cars; an apparently nice idea ruined by poor execution. Would be interesting to see what it could do with proper mods while still maintaining decent everyday driveability. Maybe some of you might have some experience.

    Like 1

    I think GM came close with the Cosworth, but the price drove people away . They could have made a mini muscle car from the get go with a small V8 or even a V6 like they did with the Monza using parts they had on hand that would have made it a more affordable car , which is what a muscle car was supposed to be -cheap ,but fast !

    Like 3
  8. Thomas Fitzgerald

    I bought a gold 76 from a dealer in Miami while on vacation. Drove down there in a VW Rabbitt which trashed the valves for the second time. Did a great trade as the Chevy dealer wanted to get rid of the Bosworth (no air). Ended up moving to Oregon where the Cosworth began to intermittently miss when it was warmed up. Still under warranty, and the dealer couldn’t figure it out. They ended up bringing a tech from Michigan who determined it was a faulty electronic board. Ended up trading it for a almost new 4×4 before the warranty ran out. Fun to drive but a bit of a novelty to get it worked on.

    Like 3
  9. Vince H

    I was selling Chevy at the time. We had one of these. It was not much better than a regular Vega till you got up to speed around 3500 rpm. From there up it was a screamer for a small car. Did not think it was worth the price at the time. it is not on my bucket list either.

    Like 1
    • Joel McGregor

      Like a lot of things they were severely hampered by the EPA. You can have the cam sprockets drilled to degree the cams properly and really wake up the car. They did some funky stuff with cam timing to get the exhaust air injection to work without a pump.
      Another big pitfall was no A/C option.

      Like 1
  10. Lynn Member

    These engines couldn’t pass the 1975 emission test at 50k miles. Let the buyer beware.

    Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      Chevy should have been fined for that by the EPA, or at least ordered to recall the cars.
      Weren’t emissions warranted for 100k miles? I can just imagine what all that oil burning did to the pellet cat converter.
      No a/c avail in a car costing almost double the price of a Vega WITH a/c?!(not that you should have ever got a/c in any vega – or pinto.) lol

      Like 1
  11. Maestro1 Member

    Go to the car. Put your hands on it. I don’t have to tell you the rest. Don’t start it. Look at the oil when the engine’s cold. If there’s water bubbles in it, say good-bye. Get the car on a lift and look at it’s bones. Vegas were notoriously sloppy assembly. Nothing serious that a mechanic could not fix.
    If it drives, and apparently it does, buy the car, give it what it needs and enjoy. I think the price is a bit high but see what you can do about that. Bring cash; always a motivator on price. Make sure the serial number on the title is the same on the car.

    Like 2
  12. Comet

    Look at all the rust throughout the interior. I think this cream puff went for a swim.

    Like 1

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