General Motors used to stand Vegas on their noses to transport them by train from the factory to the dealers. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Rally model sits properly, but will you still find its price to be on the nose?
If you see my van a-rockin, don’t come a-knockin, or so the story goes. With its nearly four-litres of diesel four-pot in the middle, yesterday’s 196-something Chevy van might very well have been a rock star. That is, if its price tag had been a bit lower. As it stood, 85% of you felt seven-grand was just too much for the mysterious machine. I’m still glad we had the chance to check it out.
You know, the sixties were an amazing time at General Motors. The company had its hand in a number of new technologies and its products were some of the most innovative of any of the domestic manufacturers. Then the ‘70s happened. Everybody turned their attention to making cars cleaner and safer and more fuel efficient, and that triple tsunami of new standards proved to reorient the focus of the company’s engineering dollars. GM’s products in that decade were less innovative, and more milquetoast than in the decade before.
That was not the case with their entry into the burgeoning compact car market, however. The Chevy Vega was full of good ideas like a light-weight aluminum four cylinder engine, and Vert-a-Pac shipping which required designing the car to be able to withstand nose stands while traveling in rail cars.
It was also the first Chevrolet not to be designed by Chevrolet. The Vega was a GM corporate design, which was handed off at the last minute to then newly minted Chevy division manager John DeLorean to sell. There was a great deal of animosity generated between the Chevy folks and their corporate bosses over this perceived slight. There would be much more to come.
Yep, the Vega proved to be one of Chevy’s bigger boondoggles as problems with the engine, corrosion, and build quality multiplied. The car’s reputation rightfully suffered, as did that of Chevy, which had been unwillingly saddled with the ride to begin with. Here’s the thing, even though the Vega went away after just six model years, it underpinned pretty much every small car in GM’s U.S. lineup for most of the ‘70s and into the ‘80s. The basic platform could be found under the Monza, Astre, Sunbird, Skyhawk, and Starfire. It was like an automotive herpes!
One thing the original Vega did have going for it was its styling, as it was a pretty damn good-looking car. Here we have a 1974 Vega hatchback as proof of that fact. This is one of the second-generation cars with the five-mile per hour bumpers and I’ve got to say, even those don’t look too bad. The nose still hints of it being the Camaro’s little brother, and the long sweeping roofline is almost Italian-sexy.
Here that’s set off by a “Rally Vega” stripe and some molded plastic louvers on the back glass. The rest of the body seems to be in excellent shape and the white paint appears serviceable. The rubber tim on the bumpers remains intact, as do the polished beauty rings on the steel wheels. yes the body panel gaps are sumo wrestler ass-crack wide, but that’s just how things were back then.
Inside it’s just the same, with everything looking to be in place and oh so ‘70s. There’s more vinyl in here than at an S&M convention and just look at those seats. Yes, they are cloth, but they look about as inviting and supportive as a police interrogation room stool. Perhaps to make up for that there is working A/C. That’s of the kind that’s an under-dash dealer add-on variety, but if you’re a lady or a kilt-wearing man, it should blow your skirt up nicely.
There’s less than 35,000 miles on this Vega and the ad claims most of those miles were put on in Florida and Texas so rust isn’t an issue. The 2.3-litre four and four-speed manual are said to run “excellent” and who doesn’t love the two-finger trigger for reverse that these cars employ?
This represents an increasingly rare opportunity to experience an average car from the ‘70s. Look around—go ahead, I’ll wait—you just don’t see many cars form this era any more, much less the lamented Vega. You see far fewer in this sort of condition.
The question is, could this one be worth $6,400?
Is it collectible? Maybe, for the right aficionado. Is it reasonable transportation? Probably not as a daily driver, that’d be weird, but as a Cars & Coffee participant, or to shame a bad behaving teen, hell yes!
What do you think, is this time capsule Vega worth that $6,400 asking? Or, is that price just another indignity the little Chevy will have to endure?
H/T to glemon for the hookup!
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