Small Block Swap: 1972 Chevrolet Vega Wagon

Chevrolet’s Vega is an unassuming car in stock form, and it’s also one that caused the company lots of grief in its original iteration. Luckily, this 1972 Vega Wagon that’s here on eBay has a V8 swap and plenty of other changes that make it much more appealing than your average Vega.

This 2-door Vega wagon is available in Santa Rosa, California with a clean title. The seller purchased the vehicle from a friend who owned it for about a decade, and is unloading both the Vega and an interesting 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air “to find something more kid-friendly to haul the grandkids.”

Early Vega models were notorious for having serious rust problems, so it is relieving to see that both the interior and exterior of this Vega are in solid condition.

Under the hood, there’s a small block Chevrolet V8 engine, though the seller does not specify its displacement. The V8 pairs to a 2-speed Powerglide automatic transmission and a recently rebuilt 10-bolt rear end. I do have to say, I love the combination of the skinny tires up front and meaty ones in the rear, and supposedly, the drivetrain allows this Vega to run the quarter mile in 13 seconds.

At the time of this article, bidding for this unique wagon is at $6,000. Would you enjoy cruising around in this swapped Vega, or would you pass on this oddball?

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Comments

  1. Mark

    It’s still a Vega, the engine swap solves some problems but there are many others. I personally would take a Corvair over a Vega.

    3
  2. John

    I love this thing. This is exactly the type of hot rod I grew up with. Fast enough, loads of fun, simple and a little scary. Just cool.

    17
    • Exdamyankee

      Good looking ride. I’d change it up a bit, away from the drag car style toward more of a canyon carver: Swap the Powerglide for a Tremec stick, go with different wheels and tires. Could be a lot of fun for cheap money.

      6
  3. BRAKTRCR

    Right up my alley, just can’t do it right now. There are some concerns on this car, nothing a buncha money wouldn’t solve. I don’t see a cage in this car, and that is fairly important, to keep it from twisting, and not being able to open, and close the doors. The stock rear end… wow, I’m surprised it’s still there, not surprised it was recently rebuilt. Even at mild SBC hp and torque numbers, that’s not enough rear end for that setup, unless you are pretty gentle with it.
    I hope I don’t sound negative or critical. I love the car, think it would be a blast, to go to work, or the grocery store. Maybe even some stop light to stop light fun. Best of luck to seller and buyer. Seller sounds like a straight shooter

    9
    • Steve R

      A really mild/stock small block will get it into the 13’s, there is no need for a rollbar with those ET’s.

      I’ve either raced or helped out at nearly every Wednesday night race at Sears Point/Sonoma raceway since 2002 and don’t recall ever seeing it there.

      Steve R

      4
      • PatrickM

        I believe, with racing in mind, there is always need for a roll bar.

        1
  4. James

    Check out his 55 for sale as well. Reminds me of why I fell in love with cars in the first place, and it wasn’t for “collector items”! It was for this kind of stuff!!!

    7
  5. Randy

    SWEET!We had 3 Vegas as I was growing up l finally got old enough to drive the 77 but all were stock 4-bangers the 77 came with “the iron duke”w/5spd.but I only dreamed of a mouse motor and a powerglide!my dream Vega came with a 12bolt positrac 411s to boot!

    4
  6. Troy s

    Not really an oddball, not to some of us anyways. Vegas, Pinto’s, 240Z’s, you’ll never know where you might find good old American V8 power.
    Even AMC Gremlin’s loaded to the teeth!
    GM’s top brass can take a bow for screwing up the Vega, didn’t like De lorean’s ideas one bit and changed things for the worse.
    I’d keep the street racer image on this one, right down to those wheels, maybe wider meats in the back though. Cool….

    10
    • Jim in FL

      Agree on the “not an oddball”. There were bolt in 350 kits available for these all over the hot rod mags in the 70s. It was a pretty common swap, and these would occasionally show up in the Philly classifieds. Ex street racers maybe? I always liked the mini Camaro front end treatment of the early Vega.

      8
  7. don

    The Vega came out when I was 10 years old, and I thought it was the coolest looking car. I even cut Vega car ads out of my parents magazines ! I still like the style of the early Vegas and if I lived out west I would definitely check this car out ,and the only thing I would change on the car would be a swap to aluminum slots , but I would never bring it back here to New England – it would rust away in no time

    4
  8. Butchb

    I built a 72 just like it. 350 with the camelhump heads, TH350, 7.5 posi re with slapper bars. Had a lot of problem keeping the engine cool in this climate and finally had to shell out for a 3 row aluminum rad with dual fans and that ended the cooling issue’s. The upper trailing arm geometry has to be raised or these get serious wheel hop.
    Stab the loud pedal in 1st or 2nd and she would try to come around. Needed bigger brakes but sorry I ever sold it and I’ve been looking for it ever since.

    Unless the the Vega market has changed I don’t see this one getting much more expensive. These cost as much to build as any as any muscle car and although weight to power their a great value, market wise they don’t bring the same money.

    4
  9. Rj Keenan

    I did this swap back in 1974 to a 72 Vega Panel. The 350 was bored 60 over giving me a 361 or 360.8 small block. A recurved distributor, headers, mild cam, a Quadrajet sitting on a Chevy intake, and She ran 13:20’s day in and day out on skinny tires. When I swapped in a fresh TH350 it dipped to 13:13’s. With 343 gears she went down the hiway doing 24mpg if you kept your foot out of it. The front bumper was cut to give the 70 RS Camaro look and an aftermarket air damn was bolted on. I also bolted on a factory roofrack with chrome package strips. All I can say is……what a fun car she was.

    7
  10. Karl

    I had a 71 Vega Panel in my shop we we’re rebuilding, it had a very nice 401 AMC it made around 550 hp with a power glide. We set the car to run nice easy 9.90 ETs all day. It was a tube chassis car.

    4
  11. 1st Gear

    Who noticed the 4 lug rear end ? I’m a 12 bolt guy, and question this 4 lug 10 bolt stuff. I ain’t always right ,but I’ve never been wrong. . . ( lyric from a Greatful Dead song)

    1
    • Karl

      Good spot on the axle assembly, I suppose you could put whatever on the end of the axle but I ran 10 bolts and all had 5 lug nuts, why would you only put 4 on?

      1

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