Kinks Worked Out…? 1977 Chevrolet Vega

There’s a truism that GM only truly gets a car right just before killing it off, with the Corvair and Fiero being the most famously cited examples. Along those lines, here’s a Vega from the last year of production, 1977, by which time many of the engineering and quality defects that plagued the otherwise handsome, fine-handling compact early on had been worked out. Sporting what is said to be its original brown paint and several intriguing details, it’s being offered by a dealer in Bristol, Pennsylvania on eBay, where the bidding currently stands at $2,650 with no reserve in sight.

This is an extremely clean Vega, but a couple of details don’t add up. There are GT badges on the front quarter panels and styled sports wheels, and the ad describes the car as a GT, but it lacks most of the other identifying GT features: full instrumentation with round dials, dual outside mirrors, and rocker panel trim, not to mention the optional, but commonly added, side stripes with bold graphics. Instead, this looks like the standard Vega interior, with the color-matched steering wheel that was new for 1977. It’s possible, I suppose, that a past owner added the GT suspension upgrades in addition to the badges and wheels, but I’d be surprised.

Speaking of surprises—and one indication that this little Vega’s been worked over, so maybe the suspension work did occur—this doesn’t look like the original 140-cubic inch inline four under the hood. Again, the text of the ad seems to rely heavily on the car’s badges, which indicate that a fuel-injected 4.3-liter V6 has taken up residence; anybody with a better eye for GM engine swaps want to confirm that? In any event, it would seem that the claimed 12,935 original miles might only apply to the body and chassis.

Another piece that’s claimed to be original—so who really knows—and is definitely awesome is this GM-branded tent, which fits over the open hatch to turn the car into a mini-camper. I’m 6′ 3″, so I kind of doubt that sleeping in the back of this car, even with the seat folded flat, would exactly be comfortable, but I definitely would want to experience it at least once. The real shame is that no picture is provided by the seller of the tent in action, so I’ll do it for them:

Image: Chevrolet

The ’77 Vega left the factory with many of its kinks worked out, but this car has possibly been worked over even further—which can bring its own kinks, so I’d want to make sure everything has been done properly. Still, it’s a pretty nice-looking example, at an easy-to-swallow price, of one of the many GM cars that’s much better than its tarnished reputation would suggest. Who’s up for some car camping?


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  1. Vegaman_Dan

    The tent kit is extremely rare.

    The GT dash and the standard dash are not interchangeable as the wiring harnesses are not compatible. You can mod anything of course, but why would anyone take a full instrument cluster out and put in a limited idiot light configuration? No, this is a base model. They did add the blacked out headlight buckets for a GT, but the front turn signal lenses are white on a GT, not amber.

    Lots of little details, and this is no doubt a great little car, but is no GT.

  2. flmikey

    Very nice looking car…but not a GT…also, I hope whoever did the very clean looking engine swap also changed out the rear axle…otherwise, it will snap like a twig after the first aggressive launch…

    • Pa Tina

      “Aggressive launch” is an oxymoron in this case. Very nice looking car.

    • Vegaman_Dan

      Not so much a problem, for by this time they all had the same positraction rear end that the V6 and V8 Monzas had.

    • Lee Hartman

      I ran a stock 283 with Powerglide in a ’71 Vega wagon and had no rear axle issues at all. I drove it aggressively at times but didn’t get stupid about it. One of my favorite rides from over the years.

  3. Rabbit

    Looks like a really nice job on the swap, & the 4.3 is a quite solid motor. Gotta be easier to work on than stuffing an SBC in there. But…..a Vega is a Vega. I actually did a 305 to 400 swap in a Monza back in the day, (quite the chore, even with lots of help & converting) but again…..a Monza is basically a fancy Vega, etc. Motor was too much for the car. The 4.3 on the other hand could be a nice choice. IF the car has P/S & P/B, & it doesn’t look it. Interesting…..

    • Richard Kaltenbach

      4.3=262 Cubic Inches, FYI!

      • Rabbit

        I meant the 4.3L V6 was a nice choice for the Vega swap. My 78 Monza started life with a 305, which I know was a 5.0, not a 262.

  4. gord

    nice car
    might be missing the metal posts you need to make the tent work (i have one for sale that fits the nova (nova/omega/ventura/appolo hatchbacks

  5. John

    The brochure with the tent is from a 74-5 Vega. The tailight on the 76-7 is a bit bigger with an angle on the top corners. Not that would have interfered with your camping exploits–I’m under 6′ and was not comfortable.

  6. Angrymike

    Very nice little car, it’s up to $7000.00, so no !

  7. Chebby

    You would think that a dealer with “museum” in its name would know that this car, with its engine transplant and other associated modifications, is not a ‘survivor’. That term is more misused than the p-word, but at least patina is something tangible.

  8. David Miraglia

    an expensive rustoleum bargain beater

  9. Barzini

    Never gave Vegas a second look when they were new but now they appeal to me.

  10. chad Member

    Hey Nate, that a pic of Sonny’n Cher in the back u found?

  11. Jeepster

    First photo: the nebula green FJ40 in the back ?? Post that one…

  12. -Bear-

    I always felt that a V6 was a better choice for an engine swap. (…as opposed to the very common V8 swap.) The V6 would provide increased performance while still retaining decent handling.
    (…perhaps this was why the cousin-car Monza offered the V6.)
    Too bad it doesn’t have the GT gauges, fake (but attractive) wood trim on the dash, & the GT steering wheel.
    I’m also not “a fan” of that interior color, but that’s probably because MY ’76 GT (back in the day) was silver with black interior. :-)

  13. Adam T45 Staff

    The tent, which in Australia was called “The Hatch Hutch” was a very rare item. The attached picture is of the Australian version fitted to the Torana Hatchback in 1977. Those of us with a heavy leaning towards the Blue Oval always believed that it was a good option for a GM product, because it gave the owner somewhere to sleep while they waited for a breakdown service to come and assist them.

    Like 1
  14. Supernova72

    Had a 1978 Monza Spyder that came with a 3.8L V6 Buick motor. Drove it in college. Added 4bbl carb and other bolt on stuff.

    Decal delete car. Handled well. Same wheels as this Vega. Have not seen a Monza in a long time. Friends called it the Dego Vega. Ha

  15. S Ryan

    Who uses a Vega as a camper?
    I thought I would need to cut off my Shins off to even drive one comfortably.
    Great and Fun drag cars with seat and motor moved back.

  16. cidevco

    The two most noticeble items are the 4.3 V6 font on the rear valance compared to the Vega logo and where is the fan schroud, other wise a nice restro mod if you can call it one…

    • Rocco

      It looks like it has a shorty fan shroud mounted above the rad to protect fingers from plastic fan.

  17. Jack

    Man! What a Ride!

  18. Paul R.

    The Tent option is so you can take a nap while waiting on the tow truck.
    I did several V8 swaps back in the late 70’s as they were plentiful with bad engines. This should be a fun car with the V-6.

  19. Patrick Bennett

    I had a 77 Vega, took the V6 out of my buds Monza. Motor mount holes were already there in the Vega, just bolted in the Monza mounts from his car! Easy swap and a lot less hassle than the 350 engine I was going to do (actually had it in already but my bud wanted the 350 for the Monza! So we did a trade LOL.
    Anyway… best and easiest swap I ever did and that Vega went like a bat out of hell! And no trouble with rear end.
    Good times, was my favorite car!

  20. Rocco

    There’s those aluminum bumpers similar to the ’74-’77 Camaro.

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