Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra and is the second brightest in the northern celestial hemisphere. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Cosworth Vega may not have shined as brightly as intended, but it was still the star of the marque. Right now it's up to you to determine whether this one's price is down to Earth, or astronomical.
You couldn't get more salt of the earth than yesterday's respectably clean red, white and sky blue 1966 Ford F-100, and for the 71% of you giving it a Nice Price win, its cost didn't stop it from being American dreamy. That truck's Twin I beam independent front suspension was considered a major innovation at the time, and one that was so successful - despite its downsides - that Ford kept it under their two-wheel drive pickups for more than a decade. That kind of ingenuity was also at the time evidenced at Ford's cross-town rival, but the Blue Oval's competitors were frequently not quite so successful.
GM in the sixties and seventies seemed to be like that ne'er do well brother-in-law of yours who, despite the best of intentions, screws up everything he tries to do. GM released upon a naive American car buying public a parade of well-intended but ill-conceived technologies - from the swing axle Corvair and Pontiac Tempest with Rope Drive, all the way through to diesel engines converted from insufficiently robust gas units and Cadillac's 8-6-4, the less spoken of which the better. One of those good intentions gone bad (yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah, yeah) was the first iteration of Chevy's compact offering, the Vega.
The Vega, designed at the end of the sixties, was the beneficiary of some radical thinking for the time, some of which didn't exactly pan out. The engine was a sand-cast aluminum block with cast iron head, and even the way it got to dealers was rethought as the cars travelled via special rail car stacked side by side vertically to allow more cars per car. Unfortunately, the SOHC alloy 2.3-litre suffered from an inadequate capacity cooling system, as well as under-spec'd valve guides causing the early cars to overheat and smoke like crazy. The Nose-down delivery system didn't take into account potential transmission and final drive leaks and too many cars suffered depleted drivetrain components upon reaching the dealer. Finally, the early Vega was to rust as Kat Von D is today to skin art.
All that was fixed by the time today's 1975 Cosworth edition hit the town. Back in the day, DOHC, sixteen-valve four cylinders were the exception rather than the rule, and in 1976 the only cars sold in America so fitted were the Cosworth, the Lotus Elite and Esprit, plus any Jensen Sport Wagons still languishing on import dealers' lots. The Cossie wasn't just a twin-cam head slapped onto the standard 2.3 - which itself by ‘76 had morphed into the more robust Dura-Built 140 - it was a totally unique 1,990-cc edition, originally intended solely for racing. A tarnished image following the flubbed launch left Chevy seeking a halo edition for the Vega line, and hence it was decided to drop the Cosworth in a range-topping model of the company's compact.
The resulting car was intended to run just 5,000 units, but even that meager goal turned out to be out of reach as only about 3,500 cars managed to be moved through the specially chosen "Authorized Cosworth Dealers." With only 110-bhp, only a 4-speed manual, and a fairly stock and thoroughly vinyl interior, the Cosworth Vega may not seem the ultimate in sporting pretensions, but then you just have to realize how low the bar was set for such things at the time. This car comes with all the Cosworth bells and whistles - the black and gold color scheme, gold engine turned dash, gold alloy rims and special gold dash plaque. It also comes with a claim of having but 6,900 miles on its (probably gold) clock.
Such low miles should make for a very clean and original car, and in fact the pictures seem to bear this out. The carpet under the hatch looks un-faded - a major accomplishment with any carpet of this age - and both body and engine bay seem clean and complete. Sadly, Chevy couldn't get the Cosworth into production until 1975, having tried for three years prior. That means the Cossie has to move the added weight of the Vega's massive aluminum bumpers, added in the name of insurer profits. The earlier cars' Camaro-aping blades being much better looking, but at least here the battering rams are nicely polished and all the rubber appears intact.
For a car that represents such an interesting part of Chevrolet's history, its surprising to find so many of those offered for sale these days to be total butt nuggets. Restoring a Vega is not an activity, nor an announcement that is sure to instill pride, and finding parts - much less consumables - for a very limited production version of what was essentially a throw-away car could drive you to drink.
Or, you could drive what is potentially the nicest one left standing. In a case like this, there's no way you could make bank buying a Cossie in need of any significant work, and like picking a spouse a good rule of thumb is to get the best looking one you can afford. In this Vega's case, that means $13,000, or about three times what owners of the scruffy cars are asking. The question for you is, how much is even the nicest Cosworth Vega worth? Is it, as in this seller's view, thirteen large? Or, is this a Cos, of much lessor worth?
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