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LeMons Entrant: 1976 Chevy Vega Nomad

1976 Chevrolet Vega Nomad Rear Corner

We saw plenty of interesting and unique cars at this year’s Concours d’LeMons, but one that really caught our attention was this 1976 Chevrolet Vega Nomad. We thought we had seen every variation of Vega produced, but then we saw this. We talked to the car’s owner Michael V about his unique wagon and he let us know that it was actually a barn find and that he was planning on selling it soon. Well, it has now shown up here on eBay and bidding is at $1,250 with no reserve.

1976 Chevrolet Vega Nomad Side

At a first glance this Vega doesn’t look much different than the Kammback that it’s based off of, but on closer inspection you will notice the differences with the B pillar and the side panels. The Vega Nomad was a very limited version of the car which was an attempt by Chevy to recreate some of the success of their extremely popular ’50s Nomad. While some of the styling cues are reminiscent of the Nomad it’s hard to see the connection between the two. Perhaps with a new white vinyl top installed, this car would look more like the original Nomad?

1976 Chevrolet Vega Nomad Interior

This car isn’t in the best shape, but it runs and drives well and as Michael has proved that it’s quite ready to be shown, at least at LeMons. Thankfully most of the pieces that need replacing are straight from the standard Vega parts bin, so it shouldn’t be too hard or expensive to track them down. Any of the pieces specific to the Nomad could be a bit of a challenge though. The Vega Nomad was only built during 1976 and only one was built for each dealership.

1976 Chevrolet Vega Nomad Engine

This car was a well optioned vehicle and came with the Dura-built 140, which was not only a higher performing version of the standard 2.3L engine, but was also a more reliable engine. This increase in performance and reliability came from the use of a redesigned cylinder head, improved coolant pathways, improved valve seals, and a higher quality head gasket. The Dura-built version produced 84 hp and 122 lbs of torque while the standard engine only produced 70 hp and 120 lbs of torque.

1976 Chevrolet Vega Nomad Rear

Michael didn’t give us much of the history of the car, but he still has much of the original documentation that came with it. He did tell us the car had been in storage for many years and that he believed the 82,600 miles on the odometer are original miles. Having had the opportunity to see the car first hand at the Concours d’LeMons we would have to agree with him. His Vega stood out enough at the event to get an article in the Monterey County Weekly. Check out their video also to see the car in action.

1976 Chevrolet Vega Nomad Front Corner

This very rare Vega Nomad isn’t in the best shape, but it’s not in terrible shape either. And given the rarity of this Nomad, we have no doubt that this car would be worth buying and cleaning up a bit. We just hope the next owner has enough of a sense of humor to bring it to next year’s LeMons event.


  1. Chris

    It’s actually a Vega Kamback. I had a 1973, got it brand new and threw it away at 55,000 miles. It had an early technology aluminum block 4 banger that was guaranteed to have the rings re hone the cylinders in about 25,000 miles. Darndest thing is that it had an indestructible three speed automatic transmission that you could probably put in a suburban and pull a boat. That said, I got it in high school and it was a great party ride.

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  2. greg

    sorry Chris, it’s a “Nomad” as it says on the car; note the different B-pillar treatment to mimic the ’50s Nomads…here’s a standard Kammback (ie, wagon):http://homepage.mac.com/christopher.z/hobby/80-AMXitems/Information/production/VegaWagonR.jpg

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  3. Chris

    Right you are, The Kammback is sexier ;)

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  4. Bill Shaw

    Put it back in the barn & leave it there.

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    I had a terrible Vega sedan that had such a bad carburetor it would only get 15 miles/gallon, then was time to rebuild the carb again!When it ran out of gas, the electric pump had sucked every drop out of the tank. It took two more gallons put into the tank before it would restart!

    Like 1
  6. karo

    The Vega was styled very nicely; in theory it looked great. Too bad the execution was so poor, with a self-destructing powertrain and abysmal trim and paint quality. This example looks tempting, but I see that the trim piece on the rear of the driver’s door and one of the chrome strips on the tailgate are gone. Good luck trying to find those rare bits.

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  7. His Royal Flatulence

    If Chevy built one per dealership, I think that would still have been about 4,000 cars. I remember that number because of the “Pace Car” Corvettes a couple of years later. Chevrolet had intended the Pace Car ‘Vettes to be very low-production, but a lawsuit by dealers forced them to make one pace car per dealership which was around 4,000 cars, something like half the total 1978 Corvette production.So if that “one per dealer” figure is accurate for these Vega Nomads, they weren’t quite rocking-horse-poo rare, and there are probably parts out there. But it’s been a very, very long time since I’ve seen one…

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  8. Not me!

    Had 2 Kambacks,1 coupe,2 hatchback GT’s. They were great cars. The first hatchback GT I bought had the junk 1st production aluminum engine and was junk at 60,000. I bought it like that for 65.00. I put a 76 iron engine in and it ran fantastic for yrs until I flipped it 3 times. Dont do that in any car..lol If you see these old cars the engines are like this..1st} aluminum {not painted}-2nd-Blue– painted by GM to show it had steel sleeves installed at dealer..3rd- orange- factory iron motor..only one to have and would go 250,000 mi. easy… Highest price I paid for one 400.00 Like new Kamback… Had these cars for yrs but never seen the Nomad…love it! Wish I owned it…

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  9. Kevin

    My sister had a vega hatch back about a 1971 don’t know but had a v8 I’n it 4 speed standard ran like a race car this was I’n 1979i was driven it fastest car I’n town

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  10. Foxy

    I had a ’71 GT, and only remember it blew one head gasket. I got rid of the junk carb and put a small 4 brl holly on it and a header and got almost 40 mpg driving cross country. I also had a cosworth vega. now that was a whole different animal. it run like a small block. it was hard to believe it was basically the same eng.

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  11. Not me!

    Humm.. Foxy? My 71 GT came factory with a Holly 2 barrell. They were great carbs. I took mine and drilled the secondaries way out. That thing ran like a rabbit and still got exellent gas milage. But 40mpg? I think your speedometer was off quite a bit there to get a figure like that. More like 20-25. Maybe? Even if you only drive down hill. Most people never change thier speedometer gear in the trans when they swap tranmissions out from differnt cars. Even if it comes from a similar car , the gears in the rearends normally are different ratio. If not changed your speedometer/odometer will be way off. Even changing tire size will do it. Thats why my brother n law thinks his 1990 full size 3/4 ton factory customized van with a 350 v8 loaded with people got 35 mpg on a highway trip….Very few cars made today even come close to that number and they run on fumes. Todays 2011 corolla’s are rated 26/34 if that tells you anything. With Stick! 40mpg even all highway is a hard number to reach.

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  12. Foxy

    not me, believe me it was close to 40. I know because gas mileage was a big thing then with the “gas shortage and all”. the car was stock except for the carb and header. the tires were stock size also. the stock carb was for sure junk, I was a carb guy all my life. the holly 390 was much better, and as for running like a rabbit, you must have had some sick rabbits. It really doesn’t matter if you believe me or not. one more thing you might remember is that the gasoline was a little hotter back then . when my car was stock it got better then 24 mpg.

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  13. Not Me

    You must smoke alot of pot! Carb swap “doubled” fuel milage? I’ve swapped over 30 cars to new 4bl and headers and it only gaines a few mpg. Foxy’ make sure you call all of the car manufacturers today and let them know that you can save them millions. Tell them they’ve been doing it all wrong for all these yrs. Tell them to start making vega motors again and put a header & a Holley on it and make sure you get some kick back out of it since you gave them the idea. Since your a “carb man” you can design them one and patent it.$$$ Any real carb man will tell you 40 mpg is not possible with a holley 4 barrel on a vega 4 cyl. Very few cars can do it today, even with computers and Fuel inj.. The dope has ate your head up! Honda civics could’nt even get 40 mpg highway until mid 90’s.

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  14. Foxy

    Ok “not you” I have been a mechanic all my life, both professional and hobby. I can tell by your comment that you really don’t know much about it at all. So I’m not going to get into a long drawn out thing with you about this. Anyone who does know will understand my comment. I didn’t post the comment so you could validate me as a knowledgeable person. I really don’t care whether you believe me or not. I don’t feel that I have to prove myself to you with ASE certifications and such so I will just let it go. And by the way I do smoke pot, it helps me to stay out of arguments with idiots. You have a good day. Foxy

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  15. F-Man

    I don’t smoke pot, am not a mechanic and I promise not to call anyone names either. A Hemmings writer wrote about a 1976 Vega Kammback wagon “They don’t have the sleek styling of the earlier cars, but they offer a lot of mechanical benefits over every other prior Vega.” Curious, I thought all of the 70’s Vegas were the same, that is, the body remained unchanged and only changes in trim were made. Am I high?Also, the “Kammback” only referred to the wagon. Correct?

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  16. Foxy

    @F-Man,, the first few years of the vega were different then the later ones. The front end sheet metal was different and there were a lot of improvements in the drivetrain. other then that they were the same. I prefer the early body style, but the later r

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  17. larry leitz

    I made a”SAFARI” wagon out of my 1978 Sunbird. It has the Iron Duke 2.5 not theVega 2.3. Runs great, cold A/C, and about 28 mpg. Lots of looks too.

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  18. Crusher

    Looks really nice Larry, just keep the dopeheads away from it..What winners huh…Scary they try to work on cars!
    This cars just screaming for the thin chrome/silver or chrome/black vinyl side molding strip imo.
    Most GM mid & high level trim cars in 70’s had it and this cars side body line (running under the side vent tail light to headlights) on these are made perfect for it. I think JC Whitney still sells it in most colors, makes them look like a higher classed car than they are as Cadillac, Grand Prix all had it.
    Looks great dude!

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  19. larry leitz

    I have that molding and the car would have had it new. It just looked so clean without it I could not bring my self to install it. It has that on the hatch in 6 vertical strips.

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  20. Crusher

    Yes’ thats it. I think it’s nice as is too, I can see the car’s body lines sure are designed for it though.
    Hell’ I still like white letter tires on most cars/trucks too so what do I know…lol

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