Mellow Yellow: 1977 Chevrolet Vega

This is one clean Vega, or at least the driver’s side is, that’s the only side that we get a glimpse of, unfortunately. This mellow yellow 1977 Chevrolet Vega is listed on eBay in Montgomery, Texas with a single $3,000 bid and there is no reserve.

Are those 41-year old rear hatch struts actually holding up that heavy hatchback? That’s impressive, they must be replacements. This car is looking fantastic so far, no? Or as fantastic as a last-year Vega can be. There is some rust to deal with as there usually is on anything older than a decade. 1977 was the last year for this loved-or-hated model and as is often the case with manufacturers, Chevy seemed to have gotten it right and then pulled the plug. How many times has that happened over the decades? Too many! What are some other examples of that? The Pontiac Fiero? The Chevy Corvair?  The Pontiac Aztek?.. (hee hee) (cough)

There are a a few more interior photos but no real good overall photos. What is shown of the interior looks pretty good to me. And, it has a 4-speed manual! I’m not a fan of aftermarket gauges being tacked onto the bottom of the dash, but in the era of idiot lights it’s probably a good idea to know what your wires and fluids are up to. The area under the hatchback looks pretty good, too.

This car comes from a large estate in Mississippi and the seller has done quite a bit of work on it, including: “Cleaned and flushed fuel tank, New sending unit, New fuel pump, Rebuilt carburetor, New timing belt, New plugs/wires, New water pump, Flushed radiator, New radiator hoses, Changed oil/filter, New battery.” That’s a lot of work that the next owner doesn’t have to do. This 140 cubic-inch inline-four would have had around 85 hp when new and the seller says that this car “runs great and would be a great candidate for restoration, cruise as is or serve as a good foundation for a v8 swap.” Are there any Vega fans out there?


  1. Mark in WNC

    Must be , at least, on it second engine. I know I’ll catch a lot negative comments for saying that but I worked at a Chevy dealership when these things were new and the engines were junk.

    • Miguel

      Why would you catch flack? Most everybody know these engines were garbage.

    • jdjonesdr

      I bought one new and it spent more time in the dealer than my house. Head gaskets. They installed new head gaskets more times than I can remember.
      I really liked the car, but that engine……

    • Jim

      Not in 1977 were the engines junk. The early models (71-74), yes you are correct the engine had LOTS of issues. But by late ’75 GM had made several improvements to the engine. And were on par with (or close to) other GM engine durability. By then though, it was too late. The reputation was permanently damaged.

      • Jerry Brentnell

        this fits right in there with that other pile of junk chev dumped on the market the firenza, a school teacher bought a vega woody wagon in 2 years the body was rusted every where dad took pity on her and took it on trade on a dodge swinger slant 6 auto and we scrapped the vega with 30000 miles on it!

    • Firemandk

      No argument there: I owned two of them, a 1975 that came from the factory with an unsleeved 1974 block (crapola), that was taken out by an ambulance (their fault, not mine !) , and a 1977 GT with a Borg Warner 5 speed , that was a fun car but finally popped a head gasket even though I religiously maintained it ….

  2. David Ulrey

    I had 2 Vegas and no engine problems with either one. I do know that several other Vega owners had problems but I never did. Maybe I was just lucky?


    I never had one with a 4 banger. Mine had a 406 sbc, and I had an Astre, with a 355 sbc both were a blast, but I think this car would be fun to leave it as is.
    I must be getting older….. 3 grand, not a very big risk

  4. GMoparMan

    By 1976 The 2.3L “Durabuilt” engine was a good little motor. Sadly it’s reputation was already destroyed by previous horribleness. The rust problems were mostly handled by this point as well. I like this little car as it is. V8 conversions have been done to death, and bore me. Stock H-Bodies are rare and quite cool.

  5. CCFisher

    The name died, but the car lived on (briefly)

  6. Fred W.

    At some point, didn’t they replace the lousy aluminum engine with a much better “Iron Duke”?

    Like 1
    • Shelli Anne Mulka

      The Monza which came after the Vega looked similar but had the Iron Duke 151 c.i. motor, a definite improvement.

      Like 1
  7. jw454

    I know many people feel these had a questionable reliability record but, I’d still like to own this blast from the past. Owning this is just like going to an amusement park, “It was fun while it lasted”.

  8. John C Cargill

    Crap car but when new they drove nice. On my conscience are the Vegas I sold to unsuspecting people in 1972. That was the issue, during the test drive they handled very nicely. I also sold the only turbocharged Yenko Vega in the store.

  9. John Verhoff

    I had a ,74 Vega ft great looking car got 70 thousand miles before engine problems I love the looks of the car traded in on a camaro

  10. Beatnik Bedouin

    They go really nicely with a 215 Buick V8 swap. A buddy of mine built one in the mid-1970s with an early Vega hatch as a basis. With good suspension tuning, it was surprisingly quick around corners.

  11. Doug

    Unfortunately, these cars were slapped together at the Lordstown, Ohio plant where the goal was to build 100 cars per HOUR….and the line workers were forced to work a minimum of 60 hrs per week. A close look at the photos of this one looks like it has puked the radiator many times, or else been submerged and cleaned up to sell. Back in the mid-70’s we were shipping at least a boxcar load of these engines a week out to the dealers to replace ones that had blown head gaskets – the radiator was downsized by the beacounters so they could reduce the MSRP $42 to be the same as the Toyota Corrolla.
    Guess which one was the better car ? As a friend who has been a body repairman for years says, “The Vega was built of compressed rust. “

  12. BradL

    This Vega is 25 miles from me. Not far enough.

    Like 1
  13. sluggo

    We had one of these in a wagon my dad bought. Same color as well. For a cheap-o commutter car at the time (early 1980s) they were not that bad. We had several family friends who worked at GM Dealerships and we got lots of help,, the trannies I am told had a useless washer in them (The 5 speed) and would go out at a certain point and make death rattle in the tranny. Easy fix,, pull the cover and grab that washer with pliers and yank it out. I wonder how many owners got soaked with a big bill for that fix??? As a teen, I abused it. And predictably I killed it. High speeds on a freeway will lock them into 5th and requires a partial teardown to fix, but blew a head gasket ALSO speeding on the freeway and Dad scrapped it. I wont say they were a good car, but they were not as bad as everyone says provided you dont let teenage boys drive them.

    Like 1
  14. KKW

    I worked on many of these junkers back in the day. The blocks would erode at the top of the cylinders, hence the blown head gasket. The quick, cheap, and temporary fix was repairing the erosion with JB weld, and slapping on a new head gasket. Shut the hood, and hang a “For Sale” sign on it. Lol

  15. David Miraglia

    Mellow Yellow Rustoleum…better than Coke?

  16. Frank

    My mom won a 1977 Chevy Vega on the price is right back in the day, the color was yellow, it was a good car for a family of four but not for a family of five. I think my dad and i redid the clutch on it once.

    Like 2

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