Live Auctions

Minty Survivor: 1974 Chevy Vega GT Wagon

Clean Vega’s can often be difficult to find especially in the wagon variety making this ’74 GT Kammback a real jewel. Very clean and original with a stunning appearance, this ready to drive small classic wagon has covered only 80,000 miles in its lifetime. All of these big features in this tiny package can be yours for a mere $4,300. Take a look at it here on craigslist out of Orange County, California. Thanks to Pat L. for this incredibly clean survivor submission!

Under the hood is the not so common to see original 2.3l 4 cylinder engine. Somehow this Vega made it through the years without getting a V8 swap.  While it is nice to see how clean and original this Vega is, I am not exactly advocating for the factory 4 cylinder engine. Granted, I would leave this nice example stock, but in any other situation I would be pondering engine options. I always wanted a Cosworth Vega wagon, or an Ecotec LE5 4 cylinder engine could be a fun option as well.  The engine compartment is fairly clean and seems quite original, minus a few dress up “Bowtie” bolts on the air cleaner housing. With only 80,000 miles on the clock, this engine seems solid, and I would assume that it runs without fault. With a 4 speed gear box at the ready, this wagon is likely zippy and fun to drive.

Transferring our focus to the inside of this wagon reveals a magnificent condition interior that looks just as nice as it did new in 1974. It is a rare occasion to find such a clean example with a marvelous interior such as this car. The wood applique dash with the calming and flawless black vinyl upholstery is just about everything you could wish for and desire in 1974.

Many seem to prefer the earlier model Vega’s over the later model cars but, looking at this car, I can look past my preferences to appreciate this beautiful example. With stunning looks inside and out this Vega is a survivor, although it has been recently repainted. The paint has a wonderful luster, and really the car appears to be much younger than it actually is. Smooth and shiny with no evidence of “orange peel” this Vega looks to have received a quality paint job, perhaps even nicer than what Chevrolet had to offer in 1974. The body trim, chrome, and glass all look clean, and really there is nothing that takes away from the sharp looks of this Chevy. Rust appears to be out of the question, and the body panel gaps looks nice. In closing, this ’74 Kammback GT is a wonderful surviving example of a popular to swap small American classic. Would you jump on this clean Vega wagon?


  1. RoughDiamond

    That is one cool Vega Kammback. I did not realize they offered that in GT trim. It’s definitely a desirable car among Vega Kammback enthusiasts and with the 4-speed will probably be gone today.

  2. Troy s

    Looks like it was hardly driven at all since Richard Nixon humbly left office! Too nice to mess with, but I wouldn’t expect too much zip out of it compared to modern econoboxes. Good find.

    • mark

      Nixon flew the coop in 73. This is a 74.

      • Steve R

        Nixon resigned August 9th, 1974.

        Steve R

  3. mark

    Why is it that there are cars that were absolute junk when they were new are now worth real money? This car may be the only one that would increase in value if the odometer was moved forward from say 20,000 miles to the current 80,000. If this thing has 80,000 miles and the motor has never been apart it has to be the only one that is that way without smoking more than grandfathers pipe.

    • Vegaman_Dan

      I love the Vega, as obvious by my name here. I used to buy them for $10-100 non-running in the 80’s, fix them up, and sell them for $1000-1500 as decent commuter cars.

      Today, they are $3-5K for any running examples, and those that haven’t been ruined with a V8 conversion are even more rare. I can’t afford to spend that level of money for a body only.

    • Andy Brinson

      This is BS since I drove a beautiful midnight blue vega gt with the white stripes through 4 yes of college and drove hell out of it with never a problem til I got married in 77 and it broke a timing belt soon after I married . Looking back I should have kept the Vega and traded in the wife!!!

      • Miguel - Mexican Spec

        Let me try to understand your post.

        You had one car that did not break down for for 4 years and that invalidates everybody else’s experience.

        Is that what you are saying here?

  4. Pa Tina

    Why not go full Cosworth on this little gem? Engine swap, graphics, engine-turned dash. That might be cool and it seems there are donor vehicles available.

    • Vegaman_Dan

      Problem there is that even a blown but rebuildable Cosworth engine will set you back $3K by itself, and expect to pay another couple of grand to rebuild. Putting a $5K engine into a Vega wagon seems a bit silly when you can put a crate motor in there for far less and have more reliability.

  5. 8banger dave Member

    ….hence v8 swaps…

  6. Tom

    Had two GT wagons in early 80’s. Buy cheap with blown motor, pull it, re sleeve cylinders and, you had a great college kids car. Actually received first speeding ticket in one coming home from college one night…go figure

  7. 68custom

    A V8 is almost to much for one this nice but maybe if was a buick 215 V8 with a stronger 4 speed..

    • Big Rob Mia

      I think a Buick GN engine would be Cool in this car..

    • ROTAG999

      The 74 Model had a strong Saginaw 4 speed trans same as V-8 Camaro early models 71 had the very weak Opel unit.

      Like 1
    • Vegaman_Dan

      The Vega was *supposed* to have the Buick 231 even fire V6 originally. But with Ford pushing the Pinto into production early, GM was forced to grab what they had, and the 2.3L 140CID engine was available, but not fully tested yet. Matched with a 3 speed transmission from Opel, they got to the market, but it was a bodge of parts to compete with the Pinto.
      Later models from about 1975 to 1977 had no real issues, but by then the name had been damaged.

      • Bill Lloyd

        The Vega was never intended to have a V6. It was originally designed with a 2.0 liter 4 with a cross flow head designed by Chevrolet. GM technical had a deal with Reynolds metal to use the A-390 aluminum alloy block, and that’s what it got. There was an aluminum crossflow head that was intended to be used with that block but there were issues with EPA certification. GM tech designed the SOHC cast iron head that ended up on the Vega. Also, despite what people may believe, no Vega EVER left Lordstown with a sleeved engine, including Cosworths. There were sleeved engines available from Chevy dealers, but never installed at the factory.

        Like 1
  8. Craig MacDonald

    I drove a ’73 for about a year. It needed an IV drip bottle of 10w-40 hanging from the front fender. Burned as much oil as gas, and it’s my understanding that was typical of Vega engines.

    • Vegaman_Dan

      Oil burning was mostly due to first gen models (non steel sleeved / iron dukes) having a very hard valve stem seal that got brittle and cracked, allowing oil to get to the combustion chamber. Aftermarket solution cost less than $20 for a set of seals and about an hour to fix if you had the right tools. I did and never had a problem with that ever again. I did a lot of cylinder head rebuilds for that issue. Easy work though.

  9. Adam T45 Staff

    Hmmm. Black paint-work. Black interior. No air-con. Sunny California. “Dear, what’s cooking. It smells like roast pork. Oh wait, it’s me!”

    • The_Driver

      You must have not spent too much time in So Cal. I lived in Downtown Ventura, for 17 months. Every day, no matter what, I would wake up to 45 degree mornings. Every. Stinking. Day. Sure, there was hardly any humidity, but for the Florida raised dude, it was torture! Now, if you say Bakersfield or Barstow; then yeah you have a pint. I did hear that in the Valley, it could sticky too!

  10. Miguel

    I wonder if the car is really from California or is it from somewhere else.

    That license plate is about a year old.

    • Steve R

      That was the first thing I noticed. If it had been sitting in a garage without a non-op long enough to have been dropped from the DMV’s system it would have plates. That is something I would want the seller to address.

      Steve R

      • Miguel

        If a California car has been sitting for a long time, does the DMV require new plates or can the existing plates be reactivated?

        I bought, back in 1982, a car that had not been registered since 1977 and it was out of the computer, or it was never entered into the computer.

        The original plate was reactivated with no problem, well with little problem. I did have to argue with the DMV agent to do it.

        I just wonder if that has changed.

      • Steve R

        From what I was told, if you have some proof the license plates are from the car you can keep them on the car. If you have no proof, it won’t happen.

        I have a 70 Nova that was dropped from the DMV computer at one point. The guy I bought it from registered it and was assigned new plates. The original plates were in the trunk of the car, but since there were no old registration cards showing those plates attached to that car the DMV wouldn’t let me use them.

  11. curt

    Im a big blue oval man.but i would love to have this one.but i would go for the ford 2300 turbo motor out of a turbocoupe just to make chevy lovers mad….

    Like 1
    • JoeBazots

      I’d love to shove an Infinity 3.7L w/ a 6 spd in it. Would make everyone crazy but would really be fun.

  12. Maestro1

    Even though this is sharp I’d rather have a Volkswagen Squareback.

  13. John

    I had one. It was a horrible little car. It was pretty and I wanted so much to love it. Mine was midnight blue, otherwise almost identical – except mine had air. It was useful, it was durable, it was kind fun to drive. But I don’t recall ever having a day when there was not some issue with it. It was just a poorly engineered car. It was infuriating with its little tricks like blowing its radiator hose one night on I-70 in the middle of Kansas, in a snowstorm. And when I went to see if I could come up with some sort of McGyver fix to get it to the nearest town, I found that the hood release had frozen solid so I couldn’t get the hood open to survey the problem. It was a constant litany of those kinds of occurrences. But it was a cool looking little car that I wanted so much to keep for many many years. I kept it two.

    • Vegaman_Dan

      Hood latch cables were a problem. Preventative maintenance of spraying the cable with silicone fixed the issue, but who does that sort of maintenance on a car if they don’t know about it?

  14. Leo Trollsky

    “With only 80,000 miles on the clock, this engine seems solid, and I would assume that it runs without fault”

    You would assume wrong. “Fault” was a standard feature for all Vegas …

  15. Dogfather

    I remember at the time we all joked that the Vega was the only car that rusted in the showroom. Here in salt country the Vega’s are almost never seen, and if you do it’s a hot rodded V8 conversion. Nice to see a survivor

    • Vegaman_Dan

      Actually TRUE. Due to the way the car was transported in the early years, they did indeed rust around the windows on the show room floor. They were shipped in an experimental rail car that had sides that folded down like ramps. Cars were driven up the sides and clamped in place. A forklift would then lift the ramps up and the cars would be stored facing down, front bumper to the ground. This is a direction GM engineers could not have predicted would take place when designing things like windshield trim. Water leaked into the vehicles and pooled up in places that could not drain and had no corrosion protection. By the time they got to the dealers, rust had already started to happen.

      The rail cars were discontinued and no further rust issues of that type were observed.

  16. Vegaman_Dan

    It’s nearly correct for a 1974 GT Kammback. A few things wrong, but not many.
    Black was not offered on the Vega.
    Front turn signals should be white/clear plastic, not amber. Amber was only on non-GT models.

    Bumpers are from a 1975. 1974 had rubber bumper strips and overriders in place for US government requirements on low speed collision. It’s an easy way to spot pretty much any US spec 1974 vehicle from any company.

    I wish this had the luggage rack on top.

    Interior is correct. Even down to the 4 speed Saginaw transmission with the pull up T clip for reverse. Tilt column is rare on the Vega and a nice touch. It was an option.

    Valve cover is not OEM. I believe Offenhauser made a finned aluminum cover, which was good because the stamped cover tended to leak at the rear corner.

    Distributor is HEI, but that didn’t come out until mid-1975. 1974 still had points. Easy conversion, and a common one to use the much more reliable HEI ignition setup.

    Timing belt cover is still in place, even with the plastic retaining plugs. These broke off easily and frequently were left off after changing the timing belt. The engine use the water pump itself in sliding mounts to tension the timing belt. With a torque setting of only 15 foot pounds, these small bolts commonly were stripped out causing leaks around the water pump. GM sold a small tool that would laterally put pressure on the pump while tightening the bolts in place. Got one of those in my collection somewhere I think.

    I do love those Vega wagons. Today I would drop a 4.3L V6 in one. V8’s are a bit too nose heavy and squirrelly for traction.

  17. Mike McCloud

    The best GT Wagon I ever have seen ‘yet’ , was a ‘still-original’ forest green/metallic that the guy did an excellent V6 transplant into -looked ‘factory’ in every way. The giveaway was the dual, chrome tipped professionally installed exhaust. It ran very smooth & he had noworries about the proven, later model of V6 engine. It did have a 5 spd manual, but I didn’t get whether a C-10 model, or not. It was a clean car & an excellent work!

  18. Doug

    Back in the mid 70’s we were unloading about 100 engines a week out of the boxcars to ship to dealers – it was cheaper for GM to give the dealer a new crate engine and pay for the swap than it was to pay for a head gasket repair…….. and we were one out of 20+ locations nationwide that were shipping them out, although we were one of the larger locations in the West.

    If it was up to me, I’d swap in a V6 – either the 3.8 or 3.4 out of a Camaro / Firebird. ( The 3.4 is a 60 degree engine, and a bit narrower than the 90 degree 3.8 ) I’d also upgrade to a trans with an overdrive top gear, and go with some good disc brakes…. Aftermarket A/C would be a must for summer fun &
    Rostra makes a nifty cruise control that will work with most vehicles…


    Would love to own a Vega again, growing up we had two a 73 and 74 both of them got my brother to college and back home. That was in the early 80’s, except for rust on the 73 we never had a problem with them

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