Nice Interior: 1974 Chevrolet Vega

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The 1970s Chevrolet Vega was not one of General Motors’ finest hours. Although a lot of money and planning went into bringing Chevy’s first sub-compact to market in 1971, the car was beset with quality-related issues from the beginning. Yet it managed to sell two million copies in seven years thanks in part to the OPEC oil embargo in 1973 that sent buyers scrambling for gas sippers. This ’74 Vega hatchback looks to have been sitting for a while and the engine may be bad. But the interior is excellent, and the car might only have 21,000 miles. Located in Wakeman, Ohio, this Bow-Tie is available here on craigslist where the seller won’t take a penny less than $4,500. Heads up to Rocco B. for the tip!

Sales of the Vega would peak in 1974 with more than 460,000 assembled cars. Of those, 276,000 were the 3-door hatchback like the seller’s example. These autos were powered by a 140 cubic inch inline-4 with an aluminum alloy cylinder block. They were known to overheat and warp, causing excessive oil consumption and eventual failure. Chevrolet would have a redesign to solve the problem, but that wasn’t until 1976. In the case of the seller’s car, we’re told the engine may be seized or – at a minimum – the water pump may have gone south.

It’s said this is a numbers-matching car with a low odometer reading. That may be difficult to believe until you look at the quality of the interior. With its checkerboard pattern, the seats hardly look used after the better part of 50 years. But the seller is sending a box containing new carpeting if you need it. This Vega has “good bones” but also has “some rust for its age”, so whatever its problems are may be limited to external sheet metal rather than the undercarriage.

If you end up changing the motor, the 350 cubic inch V8 has been known to fit nicely into these cars. The brakes are also bad and will need to be refreshed. The seller references having some spare parts but doesn’t indicate what they are or how much extra they will set you back. If the seller doesn’t get his/her asking price, the car will be taken off the market and eventually restored by the seller. If this was a Cosworth Vega, I could see being firm on the car’s selling conditions, but it is not.

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  1. Troy

    It needs to be crushed the Vega rusted sitting on the dealership lots

    Like 11
    • John

      At 4500 the seller will be the one “penny less” lol

      Like 3
      • Dan

        I’d buy it for 3000. There good cars. With a 350 and automatic transmission. Wish I had it.

        Like 1
    • Greg in Texas

      Ridiculous. It’s worthy of some type of restoration with better mechanicals. No hot rod nonsense. Something practical. To show it was possible. GM had the technology. Why didn’t it happen? Mafia corruption obviously. So get it on the road tastefully to say “Up yours!” to the Mafia trash that sabotaged GM.

      Like 2
    • matt

      you need to be crushed…

      Like 0
  2. Vegaman Dan

    Ripped seats from a late model Vegs or Monza. 1975 bumpers- 74 models have the rubber bumper strips. Repainted with overspray.

    A base model that hadn’t had the door cards messed up with speakers. Body is repairable. Drop a Buick 231 V6 in and have fun.

    I’ll wait for a 74 GT Kammback.

    Like 10
    • Nelson C

      Those were a good looking car. Nice stance and the wagon was a perfectly balanced shape. Read the “I was there” piece in Hemmings Classic Car about the origin of the Vega wagon. GM had no intention of having more than a hatchback or sedan. Too bad the rest of the car suffered so.

      Like 3
    • jeff

      why do they call you vegaman

      Like 0
  3. Big C

    “Pony up that $4500, or I swear I’m a gonna restore her my own self!” Have at it, owner.

    Like 18
    • stembridge

      Agree. That’s a $1500 car at best given its trim level, automatic transmission and non-running state.

      Like 12
      • Vegaman Dan

        Location and demand varies. That car would be $4500-5000 in my area, and it’s just a plain Jane rental version!

        Like 4
  4. Vegaman Dan

    Different appeal to different people.

    Parked side by side, a 57 Chevy 2 door and a 75 Datsun 510, both in good condition, I will respect the Datsun far more because it is rare with no reproduction parts available it is greatly more difficult to restore a cheap throwaway car never meant to last.

    Like 16
    • Robin Tomlin

      Exactly! The challenge of restoring my 72 Plymouth Cricket was that the parts needed were not easy to find, thus a great sense of satisfaction knowing I own a nice example of a car few people have seen before.

      Like 15
  5. Rick

    There’s no accounting for taste.

    Like 1
    • Vegaman Dan

      True enough, some people actually like pineapple on pizza!

      Like 6
  6. Rick

    When an ad touts a nice interior, that’s a major red flag right from the start. It usually means the rest of the car needs a lot of work.

    Like 4
  7. Ken Kocur

    Wow my first car was a brand new Vega GT. It was blue with custom interior. I waxed that car every other weekend. Within six months the top of the fenders showed rust! I was devastated. Then before it was a year old it was burning oil. It cost $3100.00 brand new. That was a lot of money in 1973. Good luck trying to sell that Vega and forget that asking price!

    Like 13
    • John Jameson

      You waxed the cheap paint right off…lol

      Like 4
    • KH

      Yeah, I worked at a pretty good sized Chevy dealership in Michigan during this era. Plenty of fender replacements and engines burning oil. They put inner genders in later on, but the reputation was ruined.

      Like 0
      • KH

        Inner fenders, not spell checked inner genders ……maybe today though?

        Like 3
      • Pwilly

        You forgot the carbs that split in the middle and caught fire

        Like 1
    • Pwilly

      Datsun’s rusted faster.

      Like 3
    • Neil R Norris

      Love the statement, “the engine may be bad” … the engine was bad in 74.

      Like 3
  8. RIX260

    One of GM’s biggest mistakes. Of the 2 million built, I’ll bet most have died from tin worm disease and the survivors suffer from mechanical malady. $4,500? Really?

    Like 5
  9. Bunky

    Vega with a good interior never was a rarity. Non running cars don’t get much interior wear. I bought a ‘71 Kammback (wagon for the uninitiated) with 63k in about 1975. (Really nice interior) It had a complete new “upgraded” factory engine installed at just under 50k miles. It would overheat if you looked in it’s direction. Engine was unrepairable. Sold it as/is for $200. How a huge automotive corporation repeatedly sends bloopers to market and survives is beyond me. Corvair, Vega, 5.7 diesel. My family owned them all, with disastrous results in each case.

    Like 7
    • Vegaman Dan

      71 had the postage stamp radiator borrowed from the Opel and could not cool the engine properly as you experienced. Later models had a full width single core that helped with a dual core available that really did the job nicely.

      Like 7
    • JoeNYWF64

      Ironically, with the optional powerglide & this iron motor Chevy already had
      for almost a decade that had no timing chain OR belt! along with this radiator …
      they would have made for a bulletproof engine & trans! – Not rocket science!

      Like 0
  10. John B. Traylor

    I had a coworker that bought one the year they came out. I loved the looks but when I found out how much he hated the engine I decided not to buy one.

    Like 3
  11. eric22t

    if it were me it would be a resto-mod. save the car but add a later model injected four and transmission. i venture to say the s10 four( which is the latest rwd 4cyl i can think of quickly) would do the trick nicely. and if done right would look at home in there. oh and as much radiator as possible.

    Like 4
  12. V12MECH

    Fridays trifecta of crap. A Vega,Pinto, and Yugo. Should do this every Friday.!

    Like 6
    • Vegaman Dan

      Waiting for a Travant or a Lada to show up next!

      Like 2
  13. Sam

    I’ll do the 74 PINTO

    Like 0
  14. James WALLACE

    1974 kammback GT, 4 speed, roof rack, took mom and dad, 3 boys, Indiana to Florida, three summer’s in 75,76,77.

    Like 2
  15. Bama

    He’s on some serious stuff. That’s a $500 car all day long. They made decent drag cars once you added some metal where the original rusted out. V8’s will fit, but make them nose heavy for street work. Better choice if you wanted it for street duty would be a 4.3 Chevy or 231 Buick V6.

    Seller is not the only dreamer. There is two or three Vegas that turn up on Marketplace around here regularly, missing parts and wanting a gold mine for them. Probably smokin the same stuff….

    Like 2
  16. jwaltb

    $4500 with a seized engine! That’s the laugh of the day and a deluded owner.

    Like 3
  17. Greg in Texas

    “Duh, 350 swap! Turbo and supercharger, derp derp derp!”. Suspension, brakes, power to weight ratio: Drop a 2.0 Alfa Romeo ALUMINUM BLOCK engine made better yet shows the potential of original car. It can be plenty fast and sip the gas. Turn it into a hot rod, why? You think anyone can sell hot rods for the money invested? Pay attention!!! Perfect candidate for a FOUR CYLINDER SWAP. With another 4 cylinder. Jeez guys. Please. Gobbling blue pills like candy throws you off apparently.

    Like 2
    • jwaltb

      So glad we have you to educate us. I’m sure ready to drop an Alfa engine in a clapped -out Vega now!

      Like 1
  18. Beauwayne5000


    Like 0
  19. JoeNYWF64

    Ironic that Chevy had a bulletproof 4 cyl on the shelf used in 1970 & earlier in the Nova (the 153 all iron cube one), derived from the straight 6. I believe it too had no timing chain or belt! – coupled with the optional bullet proof powerglide.
    Instead of that alum block/iron head engine they used instead, Chevy should have maybe developed an alum head, headers, & 2 bbl carb for the 153.
    & use better steel for the body. The styling was there!

    Like 2
  20. Randy jones

    Thatc4 cyn.motor is locked up and junk..comment was it needs a water pump…and a motor….car looks decent for putting a 350 motor in that…you gotta be won’t stop in a 40 acre field.or hold that motor to the’s not wonder they cancel the car in 76…it was a total disaster on the motor of the car..Ed coles.last hope in.71..the vega car.

    Like 0
  21. Kevin

    In 1972 Detroit totally dropped the ball..They knewthe cars we wanted as 18 year olds. WE wanted the Capri, and the Datsun 240z. I had a pinto dreadful interior. At least the Vega tried with the Vega gt and the cosworth. The real card were opal manta gt and capitol. Europe was cool. We weren’t.

    Like 1
  22. Dennis

    Price has been dropped to $1800.

    Like 1

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