Zoom Zoom V8 – 1972 Chevrolet Vega GT

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From my experience, and I have a lot of it in this case, it’s hard to take a Chevrolet Vega seriously. Let’s face it, they were lousy cars. Mostly as a result of the goofy sleeveless aluminum engine, topped with an iron head, but the body’s tendency to reduce itself to cinders just added to the indictment. Of course, ditch the motor for something durable, one with some guts, and you may have something worthy of review. Well, folks, that’s what I have for you today, a 1972 Vega GT with a serious engine room upgrade. Calling Winnetka, California home, This coulda, shoulda been is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $11,100 with nineteen bids tendered as of this writing.

OK, we’ve belabored the Vega to death here on BF so there’s no reason to retrace that ground. Taking a look at this car, you know something’s up. The cowl induction hood, which must be a legal requirement now on every backyard hotrod, is usually indicative of under-hood mods as is the rear spoiler. The Weld Racing Prostar wheels help to further enforce the performance suspicions. The body on this baby bomber looks pretty good (but then I always think that about anything finished in green) but it’s curious to see the peeling paint on the fender tops – that’s a Vega-preferred rust into non-existence location.

The big news is what happens when you stomp on the loud pedal. Under that mandated hood is a 406 CI small-block V8 that likely started life as a 400 and has experienced a .030″ overbore. I don’t want to steal the seller’s thunder so check out the modifications that are referenced in the listing. Fortunately, this Chevy’s 10:1 compression ratio will still allow for pump gas. The transmission is a modded Turbo-Hydramatic 350 three-speed automatic and the differential is defined as an 8.8 unit equipped with 4.30 gears which makes me think it’s a Ford component. Be sure to review the embedded walk-around video. (Notice how well that small block fits in the engine compartment? Chevrolet should have just done that from the get-go and avoided all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the outsized warranty expenses, and the trashed reputation that followed these things all the way to ignominy!)

I can’t tell you about the inside because it hasn’t been photographed other than the single image of the open hatch. The seller does add, “6-point cage with driver side swing out arm, the interior is all original except for a pair of race buckets with driver 5 point harness and 4 point passenger harness“.

So, the seller doesn’t describe how well this little Chevy pulls but I have to imagine it’s strong – he does mention that there are subframe connectors so it should help hold everything together without it twisting itself into a pretzel on a hard launch. OK, yes, I have to admit that this one’s pretty cool in spite of its Vega provenance but then again the pathetic Vega 2300 prime mover was Vega detraction number one so with that out of the picture, things are looking up. So, it’s now what to do with it time. I don’t really know, what do you suggest?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Moparman MoparmanMember

    (IMO) the styling on these was an out of the ballpark hit, but not so w/the engines. The car suffered from being a “corporate” design assigned to Chevrolet, and from the “not invented here” syndrome w/ respect to the engine, as there were better choices available to GM. I learned to drive stick in a lime green over tan one, and I tried to buy one that had a factory appearing 283 engine istalled in it! This one is just a little too extreme for my tastes! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 17
  2. bobhess bobhessMember

    I like this car. I really like the fact that the safety equipment was installed whether it is raced or not. I like the green paint also, a rare moment in my life.

    Like 24
  3. Rw

    Very cool.

    Like 14
  4. That Guy

    Here in California, rust wasn’t as big a factor in the Vega mortality rate. The engine was. It seems like every Vega still in existence has been V8-ed. They are good looking cars and make excellent hot rods.

    Like 26
  5. Big C

    Not sure about that engine choice. But, I’m a Ford guy. It looks like a pro install.

    Like 6
  6. Joe Haska

    I like this a lot. I would like to see a little less hood, for a more understated look. Not that you are going to be able to hide the fact it’s a rocket ship. My right foot is way to heavy for that!

    Like 19
    • JoeNYWF64

      While today, some small front drive cars by ****A have a tiny hood & a huge windshield that is twice as long as the hood – that is ALL messed up.

      Like 0
  7. Howie

    Jim, nice find and write up, but you did not mention this is a No Reserve auction.

    Like 9
  8. Grape Ape

    She looks good, likely very fun to drive.

    Like 12
  9. Fred

    I had a 1971. Ran great got about 25mpg fun to drive. No problem with mechanical or rust issues even living in long Island NY. It was totaled while parked drunk driver.

    Like 6
    • Randy jones

      I had a 73 vega gt..yeah..it used up 2 motors in 80k miles…the 4cylinder was just junk..would.blow head gaskets at 20k miles aluminum junk pit..thank Chevrolet invention..they should have just put a 307.in.at 140horses.and a powerglide..then it would run with the 65 corvair..oh yeah. Forget the 400 and the dual line holley. 6mpg

      Like 0
  10. Mr C.

    I owned a 73 Vega back in 79 for a few months. It was a beater which 4 people owned in a single year! It was a turd but served a purpose. My brother in law bought a new one in 72. No engine problems but I think he sold it after 3-4 years? He also was one of the 4 owners on the 73! Those were the good old days!

    Like 9
  11. C Force

    This car is so well put together.there was real time and money spent here.looks great.with 4.30 gears,it’s ready for the dragstrip or to steet brawl.

    Like 10
  12. Jim Stobinski

    A friend and I built one in 75. Not a hard swap with modified turbo 350. A lot of fun to drive.

    Like 9
  13. Robert Levins

    Leave it alone and love it! I think it’s beautiful just the way it is! It’s a beautiful racer – no need to ever try to make original. Great job! I hope the next owner will appreciate it as much as the current owner! Nice article too.

    Like 17
  14. GNeric

    I have a ’73 GT that has a “mild” Grand National 3.8 V6 and a 2004R. Narrowed 8.5″ Blazer diff. All home built. 29mpg and lots of quiet horsepower.

    Like 20
    • Vegaman Dan

      The V6 slots in nicely as that was one of the planned upgrade motors. 231 even fire Buick engine with the GT equipped Positrsctiob read end and the 5 speed Saginaw transmission. Today I would replace the 3.8L with a 4 3L for the sheer amount of low end torque those have, plus fuel injection.

      Like 2
    • Beauwayne5000

      Slap on EU side marker lights & bring it to Germany it’s mods w/be grandfathered in & totally legal.
      Could never do that w/a newer car.

      Like 0
  15. Will Coyle

    Years ago, in Malibu, with another couple, saw an orange Vega in front of a red Ferrari Luso pull out on the Pacific Coast Highway. I pointer out the Ferrari and the wives both said which one. Go ahead and have a fit, then look it up, Chuck Queener was at Gm In those days, he collected Ferraris and BTW check out the egg crate grills. The car has nice lines, it stops there and the engine was a disaster/embarrassment to Gm. A friend built a mid-engine V8 Vega, covered in Hot Rod, now that was THE REAL DEAL………..

    Like 3
  16. Pete Hagler

    Sister-in-laws father was WO inn Army motor pool; spent several years in Europe. he loved the cars when they came out, said they had one flaw; radiator to small. He bought a brand new one, took it home and immediately put a bigger radiator in it. Kept it til day he died; looked like it was new.

    Like 9
    • Vegaman Dan

      Early models had the square postage stamp radiator and part of the core support blocked off with uncut metal. It was punched for a larger radiator but not installed until late 73.

      Like 1
  17. Chuck

    My fourth car and the first brand-new car I bought was a ’72 silver/black Vega GT with a manual transmission. It lasted two years. It was also my fourth Chevy. I left the marque until ’79 when I gave them another chance and ordered a brand-new loaded Corvette. Which, as it turned out was the worst car I ever owned and my last GM product.

    Like 5
  18. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Wow gotta love old school set up!!! In my teens I seen V8 set up in Vegas. I like the 72: because of the nose and small bumpers. This will pull the front wheels to heaven with those gears. The only thing I would change is the 4:30 to 3:73 or 3:50. I would drive this to different car shows on the weekends and week night. This is set up right. I remember the front end kits for V8 Vegas. The engine would drop in and look factory like this one. The next owner is going have a blast!!! 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 9
    • Robert Gallant

      Yah he will. I remember back in the day putting a 400 into an Oldsmobile Starfire, same as the Monza 2+2. It came factory with a 305, 4 speed and 13″ rims and tires. It was like driving on ice all year round. You treated the go pedal gently or it would bite your backside in a heartbeat

      Like 1
    • LittleJoesGarageMember

      In the 70’s you could purchase a “V8 Vega Kit” from Ben Pilla to “update” a Vega.We put in a Buick 215 aluminum Nailhead engine along with a 4 Speed Muncie.Was a neat car!

      Like 0
  19. Frank Sumatra

    “Big Noise from Winnetka”

    Like 4
  20. Joe L

    Love some of the fringe cars that get posted here. My buddy had a purple Vega with a 350, 4 speed. We were 17 and he’s still alive today! Good times, the 80s.

    Like 4
  21. Paul R Breuhan

    I am not a Chevy guy, but that is BAD @$$, I would drive that.

    Like 0
  22. Mark

    A nicely done 71-73 GT such as this in the exact color I’d opt for is a bucket list car for me.

    Interesting that the seller lists it as a 72 Camaro GT. Probably just a hook to garner more views but the car seems to be well executed enough to sell without having to do that…..

    Like 0
    • Grape Ape

      Agreed. The color is nice, car well done for fun, but be honest about the listing. 👍

      Like 0
  23. Camaro guy

    Very cool Vega the only thing this car needs is mini tubs and wider tires, and you’re not ruining a sleeper vibe because there is none pull up to a stoplight in this and that’s all gone 👍👍

    Like 0
  24. Howie

    Sold $18,253.00, for some reason the wording was changed to Camaro.

    Like 0
  25. JoeNYWF64

    Hey – those are the non gas rear struts that never wear out – just like on early pintos – back when car companies were not too greedy.
    I would think back in the day, in some states you could get a ticket running a tall hood like that.

    Like 1
    • 2015 2SS

      Could be obstructed driver vision type of violation –

      Like 0
  26. Frank

    First Pro Street car I ever saw was Competition Engineerings black Monza. It made a impression and i ended up with a fuel injected 427 powered back hafted Vega. Wicked crazy ride that I wish I still Owned.

    Like 0

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