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Part it Out? 1975 Chevrolet Vega Cosworth

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that really is true, then that’s probably a good thing. You see, the owner’s description of this 1975 Vega Cosworth runs to exactly ten words. It is a sad looking sight that is located in North Scituate, Rhode Island, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the listing to open at $1,000, but so far, there have been no bids on this sad looking Chevy.

It would be interesting to get a close look at this Vega because it seems to be riddled with contradictions. The first is that in spite of the fact that it looks quite faded and ruined, some of the most rust prone areas such as the rockers and lower quarter panels actually look to be quite solid. Of course, we can’t see the state of the floors, and there are other parts of the car that don’t bode well. For instance, don’t count on dropping a battery into this baby and having it fire up, because if you drop a battery into it, that’s going to end up on the road. The battery tray is completely rusted away, and you can get a clear view of the road from there. The inside of the hood frame is also doing a passable impression of Swiss cheese, and once again, this is not an encouraging sign. The Vega also doesn’t wear its original wheels, so that’s another issue to deal with.

The interior of the Vega is a bit of a surprise because apart from a tear in the driver’s seat, the rest of it actually looks like it is okay. The Cosworth plaque is still in place, and it doesn’t look like anything is missing. However, I’m almost certain that the carpet shouldn’t be green and black. That’s a pretty healthy eco-system growing on the front floor, and this suggests that things have gotten more than a little damp in there. Wet carpet on a steel floor. There’s a great recipe for major rust issues.

At least that great little 1,994cc Chevrolet/Cosworth engine is still present, and, miracle of miracles, it does look to be complete. It isn’t clear what state it is in, but the fact that it is complete is a real bonus. These were a special little engine, and although the output of 110hp might seem pretty unimpressive by today’s standards, it was quite healthy for an engine of this capacity back in 1975. At the end of the day, Chevrolet did build 5,000 of these power-plants, but with only 3,508 cars being built and 500 engines being disassembled for parts, the remaining 1,000 or so engines were eventually scrapped. That now makes these a relatively rare engine, and part of me has always wondered what sort of power could be extracted from one with some more aggressive camshafts, and modern fuel injection and engine management technology. Maybe this is the engine that could find that out. Otherwise, the car looks to be mechanically complete for anyone who might be considering this as either a restoration project or as a parts car.

The indications for this 1975 Vega Cosworth aren’t terribly promising. There is certainly some visible rust, and the signs for areas like the floor also aren’t great. My gut instinct tells me that the fate of this Vega is going to be as a parts car. This isn’t really surprising, as this one looks like it has succumbed to the sort of rust issues that plagued the Vega. I would dearly like someone to prove me wrong, but I doubt that it will happen any time soon.


  1. Little_Cars

    Another roached-out Cosworth Vega? Another one where the owner swapped out wheels for the crappy standard Vega rims. Cute that someone painted them deceptive gold. Love the well-maintained fescue on the car’s floors. At least the $1000 outlay won’t bite you too much.

    Like 1
  2. Gaspumpchas

    Parts car..I understand the performance of these was unimpressive; you’d think 110 hp in a light car would be ok. But when you take a british engine and put it into the worst car ever, I guess you cant expect much. I still say the cars from 73-82 were the worst in history, and every car maker shouldered the blame. Sorry for the negativity, but all the turd polish in the world ain’t gonna help this heap.

    Like 9
  3. Fred W

    Looks better than any Vega I saw on the road in 1980. There, I said something positive.

    Like 4
  4. FOG

    If I knew what the measurement was from the back of the radiator to the firewall, I could do a transplant???

    Like 0
    • John

      Better have the measurements of a Dempsey Dumpster to transport it in. The motor may have some value to a rebuilder, and perhaps the transmission (weren’t Cosworths 5-speeds?). But the rest would require the expenditure of far more resources than the result could ever justify. Oh, and you’d lose money, too.

      Like 4
    • Paul

      Lots of them are having small blocks and LS transplants they fit very easy.

      Like 0
  5. Nevada1/2rack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Give me $100 if I were in a 5 mile area from the car and I’d haul it away, then yank the motor for the local high school auto shop to check out. The scrap metal proceeds go to buying new(er) tools for them.

    Like 5
  6. Mikey8

    Is this possibly the same one the guy up that way was recently selling for $300? Flipping it right away to make a quick $700?

    Like 1
    • LARRY

      I’ll give him $100.00…if he brings it to my shop! Body is cooked and the engine surely needs a rebuild. I’m wondering if the cosworth would fit in a Chevy luv… oh yeah!

      Like 2
    • Little_Cars

      I thought the same thing, try looking at the photos side by side. Each has developed their own unique, shall we say, debilitating aura. The other Barn Find had steel wheels and Monza wheelcovers but I guess those could have been swapped out for these gold ones.

      Like 0
  7. sourpwr

    The sound of the tin worm eating these reminds me of The Walking Dead.

    Like 1
  8. hvac999

    I say update the parts needed of the engine. include fuel injection and put a turbo on it. it must have a strong block and internals. I think everyone will be surprised at the results. I drive a Ford 2.3l turbo that has 310 hp from the factory.

    Like 0
  9. GTiDave

    A 1971 GT had the same HP as a Cosworth.

    Like 0
    • Paul

      Yes but the 71 GT would run out of air at 5000 rpm while the Cosworth is getting happy and rushing on to 7000 rpm. Having owned both there is no comparison between the two.

      Like 2
  10. Mr. Ed

    “Parts car..”


    “I understand the performance of these was unimpressive; you’d think 110 hp in a light car would be ok. But when you take a british engine and put it into the worst car ever…”

    Cosworth developed the head, but the block was the same part number as any other Vega, just with a destroked crank for 2.0l displacement vs. the normal 2.3l. The EFI was done by Bendix (first use on any Chevrolet).

    “If I knew what the measurement was from the back of the radiator to the firewall, I could do a transplant.”

    A SBC fits snugly but there’s plenty of support out there to help you do it. I swapped a Buick 3.8l in my ’71 when I was in college – transformed the car.

    “The motor may have some value to a rebuilder, and perhaps the transmission (weren’t Cosworths 5-speeds?). But the rest would require the expenditure of far more resources than the result could ever justify. ”

    Correct on the engine (for parts). ’75 CVs only got a 4-speed with 3.83 rear posi. ’76 offered an optional 5-speed with 4.10 posi.

    “A 1971 GT had the same HP as a Cosworth.”

    Gross vs. net, so really more like 85-90 hp for the GT. The Cosworth prototype engines (developed for Formula 2 racing in Europe) were making around 280hp at 9,000 RPM, but the block would crack after too few hours. By the time they were dialed back enough to be reliable, they were not competitive. John DeLorean pressed to continue the project to offer in the Vega (then left GM before it came to market). Originally targeted to make 140hp, the engineer who set the engine up for 1974 emissions tests made an error and the engine burned a valve, disqualifying it for 1974. It was further detuned for the 1975 model year, which is why it made 110hp. Removing the cat was good for an instant 20hp, though.

    If this car were only a couple hours away, I’d probably give $800 for it to strip for spares for my ’76 CV, then scrap the rest.

    Like 0
  11. Rube Goldberg Member

    A shame to see one like this. Usually, people took care of these, as they were cool cars. This the worst one I’ve seen. Just shows, at one time, it was just somebody’s get to work beater, through all weather. I did the same thing to my MGB. I’m sure it’s toast underneath. Someone that collects these will grab it just have #633, I’m sure.

    Like 1
  12. Bear

    That’s a “Parts Car” at best.
    These Cosworth Vegas were AWESOME during the 1st design concept & specification stage. But they soon suffered the same fate of many mid-70’s cars, as smog regulations & other US standards soon robbed the engine of its envisioned high-horsepower-potential. Sad really, as the Vega platform had decent handling for a front-engine/rear-drive car. It just needed a powerplant with more pep (…oh! & less of a tendency to consume massive quantities of motor oil!).
    (I owned/drove a desmogged & retuned ’76 GT w the BorgWarner 5-speed, & it actually had decent performance for the time period. I reshoed mine with 50-series BFG T/As, & I also upgraded the shocks & sway bars. It was a blast to drive. I would love to see what a TRUE Cosworth engine (with high compression, high-revs, & zero smog) could do in one of these.)
    Still, there is quite a following out there for these Cosworth Vegas, so perhaps someone will buy this and allow some parts to live on in another “more worthy” example.

    Like 1
    • Paul

      I have a good friend with a built up Cosworth, big cams high compression just around 190 hp. Really makes it scoot with 5 spd and less than 2500 lbs. I also know of one that runs in the 12s with a turbo kit.

      Like 1
  13. Steve

    If there was an ultimate Vega, for me it would be an early GThatch with a hotted up Cosworth drivetrain.

    Like 2
    • Edwin Hinsdale

      Yank the engine,rebuild it ,and stick it in a Chevette with suspension tweaks .

      Like 0
      • FOG

        I messaged the seller for transmission info. My plan was to place the drivetrain in a Datsun 521 pickup. Seller never replied.

        Like 0
  14. TimM

    It’s just a shame to see an iconic car that was pretty good for that era reduced to a piece of s@-/!!!

    Like 0
  15. Little_Cars

    @FOG. How much time did you give them to respond? :) Some people even in 2019 are not in front of their computer or have messaging set up on their phones to prompt them when a new one is received. I’m one of those ppl!!! BTW, cool idea about donating the engine for the Datsun truck…have you modded other Datsuns in the past? Heavy fan base in TN due to their (Nissan) HQ and truck manufacturing plant located here.

    Like 0
    • FOG

      Not a transplant in the Datsuns. Interesting about your location for Nissans. My primary source on old Datsun trucks & parts as been from Oregon (one of the west coast Datsun port of entry) And, it’s been a few days on contacting the seller.

      Like 0
  16. Kenn

    Another flood car. Ought to be a law…!

    Like 0
  17. sam muniz

    looking for fuel pump

    Like 0

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