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El Camino Conversion! 1975 Chevrolet Vega

The Vega was Chevrolet’s first foray into the subcompact car market in the early 1970s. While it was innovative in many ways, the car got a bad rap for its troublesome engine and premature rusting. Sedans, hatchbacks, and even station wagons were offered, but no pickup trucks. Until someone did a conversion on this 1975 edition. The work appears to have been well done and the truck sports a V8 where the I-4 was previously found. Located in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, this one-of-a-kind vehicle is available here on craigslist for $11,000. Thanks for the unusual tip, Rudy C!

Chevrolet’s Vega arrived in dealer showrooms in the Fall of 1970 amid a lot of fanfare. Its assembly process was quite different by the standards of the day, as was how the cars were shipped (stacked vertically in special railcars). The auto would go on to win Motor Trend’s 1971 Car of the Year Award. But the vehicle would later become known for a variety of problems related to its engineering, reliability, safety, and engine durability (it had an aluminum engine block that would overheat and warp).  The car was named for Vega, the brightest star in the constellation Lyra.

The Vega was available as a station wagon (called the Kammback) and a sedan delivery, either of which could have served as the donor for the seller’s interesting conversion. It was redone as something of an El Camino tribute, so it could be called a Vegamino or El Vega. But it doesn’t function as a pickup as no tailgate folds down, and the bed mostly contains an ample fuel cell to feed gasoline to the car’s powerplant. We don’t think this is a recent conversion as the seller says it was “just brought out of storage for a great summer ride.”

Mechanically, this Vegamino differs dramatically from its donor. It has a 327 cubic inch V8 under the hood that the seller rates at 275 hp. The carburetor, alternator, radiator, and other items are said to be new. The transmission is a TH-350 automatic that has a floor-mounted shifter. Suspension components have also been replaced and the Chevy sports 4-wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering. With most of the weight over the front wheels now, we wonder how well it handles.

Though the body and paint look perfect, a few little things are left to be done. For example, we’re told the car needs a new headliner and some assorted odds and ends. We assume the truck runs and drives well and it would be a head-turner at any car event because there may not be another one like it around. Whoever is responsible for this Vegamino’s creation surely has more in it than the asking price.


  1. Avatar photo mike

    Looks like a nice build.The side pipes just don’t look right though.

    Like 11
  2. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    Nice conversion. Nice to see good workmanship on something like this. Note: that’s not a fuel cell, though it should be. Surprised it wasn’t put underneath as far back as possible to offset the weight of the engine.

    Like 8
  3. Avatar photo Ed H

    Back in high school auto shop we have a Chevette that was converted to a mini pickup. It was donated by GM after the hatch was damaged when it was being unloaded from the transport.

    Like 5
  4. Avatar photo Moparman Member

    I first saw this creation online in October of 2021, but I can’t recall the website, nor the selling price then! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 1
  5. Avatar photo BlondeUXB Member

    Another cute UTE.
    Manufacturers have made some half-hearted shots at the market segment over the years. Maybe time is right to look “down under”…

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo nlpnt

      The El Camino nameplate is ripe for a comeback. It *will* be on a 4-cylinder 4-door, FWD-biased-crossover based model with a pickup bed about the size seen here. Best to get used to the idea now.

      Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Steve Clinton

    “Located in Oconomowoc”
    Oh no, not Oconomowoc!

    Like 3
  7. Avatar photo Jack Quantrill

    Who would buy this Frankenstein?

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Steve Clinton

      i would!

      Like 24
  8. Avatar photo Stan

    ” troublesome engine” you got that right Russ

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo Steve Clinton

    I started to chuckle when I first saw the “Vegamino”, but it really grows on you. I bet GM would have sold a bunch of these had they produced them.

    Like 11
    • Avatar photo Ike Onick


      Like 5
      • Avatar photo Steve

        Ike – I think Ron has a copyright on that word, but it’s pretty descriptive.

        Like 3
      • Avatar photo Ike Onick

        Steve- But wait! There’s more!! If Ron makes an appearance, I will immediately delete the comment.

        Like 4
    • Avatar photo douglas hunt

      or El Vego

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Ian C

      I think the obvious name has been missed.

      Australian ute look….
      A “mighty” v8 under the hood…

      Vegamite it is!!!!

      (I know the food is spelled with an e instead of an a.)

      Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Bunky

    Hopefully this thing has a subframe. Otherwise, this thing will twist like overdone spiral pasta.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo Bill McCoskey Member


      The threat of body twist is possibly the reason for eliminating the fold down tailgate.

      Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Steve

    IMO the best looking Vega.

    Like 4
  12. Avatar photo DeeBee

    Leave it to the General! Build the one car that can’t be improved, no matter what you do to it!

    Like 2
  13. Avatar photo jwaltb

    OMG. Nicest one left?

    Like 2
  14. Avatar photo Nelson Helmutt

    Tip To the Author Here. I know this family up in a small town in Arizona the Man/ The Dad Built this extreme over the top in every way, the Bids they are getting are chump change of what this extrme Quaity street Legal Machine is worth. Bids are at 22,000 only 4 days Left I know the family could use a better sold Number. Thanks Hopefully You might do an article here to help this family. Thanks. for Your consideration.

    Like 3
  15. Avatar photo man ' war

    I saw a picture of a Pinto wagon converted into a pickup, and I think that it’s bed lines looked way better than this Vega pickup.

    Like 1
  16. Avatar photo Leo

    Its a very nice build, but I thought this website was “Barn Finds” not “eBay finds” or ‘Craig List finds’ for custom built cars!

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Ike Onick

      It fits the “Oddballs” category listed.

      Like 6
      • Avatar photo Steve

        Ike – I think you’re probably safe, as long as Ron stays deceased!

        Like 2
  17. Avatar photo Howie

    Not too bad, i think it would look better in another color.

    Like 1
  18. Avatar photo Dave

    Why go through all that trouble and leave such an uninspiring interior intact?

    Like 1
  19. Avatar photo Blyndgesser

    I think the front seats came out of a Honda Civic.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Little_Cars Member

      Yep, the seats look identical to the 2000 Honda Civic I owned. Uncomfortable and ugly pattern, but bulletproof in terms of wear and tear. Probably the only ones that fit the Vega footprint without modification.

      Like 0
  20. Avatar photo vance trella

    my dad has one of those in worse condition the PO had done aweful work. we call it el-vagemino!!!

    Like 0
  21. Avatar photo Bandit

    Built one in 1983. Started with a 1976 kamback. Had a functioning tailgate. Put a 1978 Buick v6 turbo with a 4 barrel in front of the factory 4speed, v 8 Monza rear axle and radiator. Handled great and would fly. Love picking on the guys with trans ams and z28s and a couple of vets. Around 350 to 400hp at 14 to 15 lbs of boost.

    Like 4
  22. Avatar photo Frank Sumatra

    Why not just buy a Dodge Rampage?

    Like 5
  23. Avatar photo Stan P

    Stalled on a San Diego freeway in a Vega wagon. The wind from a passing semi caught the door as I opened it and almost folded it flat against the front fender.
    Other than that, it eas fun to drive.

    Like 4
  24. Avatar photo belinda!

    A few years back I ran into this item. Your thoughts?

    Like 1
  25. Avatar photo Jack in RI

    I love it. I just need a bigger driveway/garage
    This is a perfect grocery getter

    Like 0

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