John Delorean, GM vice president and Chevrolet general manager discussing the car, touting its quality of assembly and its handling capabilities. DeLorean said, "Our design concept was we wanted to build a car that does everything well, and if you drive the car you really will be very impressed. It has far and away the best handling of anything in its class. In fact it handles better than many sports cars. The performance is excellent. There is nothing that comes within a mile of the Vega for performance and handling. It out-performs any car in its price class in accelerating. This car will out-handle almost any sports car built in Europe. Not just little cars, but sports cars too. This is quite an automobile...The Vega is going to be built at a quality level that has never been attained before in a manufacturing operation in this country, and probably in the world. I think the ride and handling of some of the imports is quite mediocre. But some of them are extremely well put together. The Vega has good craftsmanship, without the faults of the imports."
Car Life September 1970 said, "Chevrolet says Vega is more than just a new little car. Chevrolet is absolutely right." "The Vega is as separate a car as is being made in the U.S. Almost every component — in the drivetrain, the body, the trim, whatever — is designed and produced for the Vega." "The overall package is small, but interiors haven't suffered in proportion. Entry and exit will call for more bending than the average sedan driver is used to, but once inside, the size reduction isn't apparent, at least for people of average size. The surprise comes in the back, where there is more leg room than the Camaro offers." "Chevy engineers say that in a steady state cornering situation a Vega equipped with the handling package will generate a one G lateral acceleration with a roll angle of only six degrees. Wow. And double zoomie. These figures are fantastic — even better than a Corvette. Steady state cornering is seldom experienced in normal driving. It's only one measure of a car's overall handling characteristics. Nevertheless, it's a good indication that the overall cornering capabilities of the Vega should be exceptional. Drivers of the Vega should find its braking ability more than equal to the other high performance levels of the car. The Vega will provide keen competition for rival small cars, imported and domestic, be they sporty GT's or sedans, or wagons. That's an impression."
Road & Track September 1970, "Technical Analysis & Driving Impression-Chevrolet Vega 2300" editor John R. Bond said, "Finally—General Motors produces a truly compact, truly new and truly American car to challenge the imports." "With three body syles, the Vega iis aimed at a more varied market than the Pinto. The 2-door has the angular, upright qualities of the Fiat 124 Coupe, the coupe has some of the sleekness of the Ferrari 365 GT 2+2, the wagon is VW-like in its simplicity. What is surprising is that GM should produce a car with such "engineered" (as distinct from "styled") body lines; this suggests an appeal to intellect rather than image and may be significant in breaking into the market area previously reserved for imports. A few years ago we criticized the irrational flamboyance of the Corvette; now we must applaud the sensible, if conservative, Vega. Objectives for the Vega's performance, as outlined by Chevrolet engineers were: VW Beetle economy, Maverick acceleration, Toyota Corona quietness. I can vouch for the quietness; an ingenious system of engine mounts has made it virtually impossible to tell the engine is a 4-cyl." "As a final observation, I think the Vega is beyond a doubt the best handling passenger car ever built in the U.S. It has many other good qualities, but the roadholding impressed and surprised me most of all."
Car and Driver September 1970, "Detroit's Compact Commitment" said, "From the very start, Chevrolet is prepared to take on everyone, from VW to the sporty imports like Lincoln-Mercury's Capri and Buick's Opel Rallye Kadett. But this tremendous latitude will also have Chevrolet competing with itself. The Vega sedan will certainly appeal to many who otherwise would have been prospects for a Nova and the sporty fastback coupe is more to cut in on the Camaro territory." "The Vega has not been compromised by any hand-me-down parts. The standard Vega is meant to compete specifically with the imports and mechanically it is very much a numbers car, which is to say that it has been designed and developed to produce incredibly efficient engineering numbers. At the very start, certain numerical levels of goodness were established for characteristics like acceleration, fuel economy, interior noise, ride harshness, and stopping ability and the Vega had to match up to these pre-set goals before it could be turned loose on the public. the result is a machine that is usually awesome in its competence but occasionally inept and which clearly mirrors its computer breeding. This description applies, particularly, to the base car—a 2-door sedan with the 90-horsepower engine, 3-speed manual transmission and 2.53-to-one axle ratio—which is meant to do everything better than Volkswagens, Toyotas, Mavericks or anything else you can name." There is a small station wagon, a panel delivery and, best of all, a fastback coupe that's guaranteed to start a stampede in the direction of the nearest Chevy dealer."
Road Test September 1970 said, "Chevy pulled out the stops on this one-aluminum ohc engines, four body styles, high style options put it in a class by itself." "The Vega is innovative without being complex." "By the time it is introduced this fall, Chevrolet's Vega 2300 will have covered enough hot, cold, wet and dry test miles to be equivalent of about 240 trips around the world. A million of these miles were on roads, on the proving grounds and off, and the rest consisted of simulated tests in engineering laboratories. Also realize that most of the tests have a severity factor about three times greater than average customer driving. This may seem like a lot, but unlike the Pinto and Gremlin the Vega is all-new even down to its tires for as far as we know... Neither of these would have experienced the teething problems encountered by engineers involved with the XP 887 project, as it was code-named until recently."...while sporty in appearance, Vegas have been designed as economy cars and not hot rods. The modest 8.0 to 1 compression ratio of both engines will permit operation on the forthcoming 91-octane, low lead fuels and average economy should be in the order of 23-24 miles to the gallon." "The Vega is the only domestic or imported mini-car to offer guard rails in the doors to protect against side impacts." "...one can only conclude that Vega to date has the edge in the mini-car race."
Motor Trend New Cars '71 — General Motors: Chevrolet Vega 2300 — "To astronomers Vega means a brilliant star of the first magnitude, the brightest in the constellation Lyra...Compared to other U.S. mini-car efforts, the Vega is indeed a brilliant star when the magnitude of the project is considered...the Vega is new from the tires up. In fact even the tires are new because the A70 x 13 wide-tread size it uses had to be especially created for the car. What is more, a total of four body styles will be initially offered including a fastback coupe, a 2-door sedan, a 2-door wagon, and a small truck which is fashioned from the latter." "It's been reported that the Vega has caused more internal excitement and enthusiasm among Chevrolet executives than any other new model since Ed Cole's still attractive first V-8 of 1955. In some ways the Vega resembles that one, particularly in its simple checkerboard grill design and the single headlights mounted high in the fenders. It has an air of sportiness about it too with its flared wheel cutouts, wide tires and styled wheels."
Super Stock October 1970 said, "What Chevrolet did was engineer a completely new car for the tastes and needs of the 1970s, and they've done a beautiful job." "Vega 2300 is a very simple car, easy to repair, and capable of 27 mpg, making it a definite competitior for VW. Of course, Vega has quite a few more options than VW." The project code was XP-887 for a long time, but the car was named for a very bright star, and then for the size of the engine, 140 cubic inches or 2300 cubic centimeters.
Road Test November 1970 tested a Vega 4-speed coupe. RT said, "Sitting behind the wheel of a Vega for the first time was anticlimatic though pleasurable" "To put it bluntly, the Vega with the 110-hp engine, is sort of a junior hot rod; it reminded us vaguely of some flying time behind the stick of a military Piper." "Our test car in corners was almost completely neutral. On straightaway ride over fairly rough roads, you were vaguely aware that you weren't far off the ground. Leave it be with that statement. The Vega felt more like a typical small sports car than a Detroit sedan, however small." "With the inexpensive handling package, our test car has no peers in the cornering department. Fast turns are level, safe and normal." "Standard disc brakes give Vega stopping power that touch a record for us — of 140 feet from 60 mph." "One negative is that the Vega is noisy, we wonder if this will be acceptable to the owner of a current American compact." "We like the Vega and perhaps would wax more enthusiastic about it but except that the program is just overpowering."
Road & Track November 1970 road tested "Vegas Plain and Fancy." R&T said, "The plain Vega sedan is as good-looking a car as you'll find in its class...with the Vega, they've turned out one of the finest-looking compact sedans in the world." "The engine proved a let down. It's extremely rough and noisy..on the positive side, freeway cruising is relaxed and quiet, the slow-running engine's noise covered by wind and road noise, and it was economical not withstanding our overall mileage figures which include some very hard driving." "The Vega in standard form rides and handles very well indeed." "Inside one finds that the large glass area–so reminiscent of those of the Fiat 124 Coupe — give outstanding vision in all directions;" "The steering is in a word, light;"
R&T on the coupe, with options: "To start with, the coupe is more graceful to look at, having a roof that drops off sooner as it progresses rearward...""...our coupe had all the performance options that can be had on the sedan as well." "The most important options on our coupe's equipment list were the L-11 engine option—20 more bhp via a 2-barrel carburetor and hotter camshaft—and the 4-speed gearbox." "The coupe's other major mechanical option was a handling package..." So optioned, the Vega becomes a pleasant car to drive, marred only by the unseemly engine racket. It also becomes something other than a low-priced economy sedan, but one is hard put to name a coupe as attractive and capable as this at a comparable price." "The basic Vega, pretty and intelligently designed though it is, is poorly equipped and rather unpleasant to drive and we don't think many customers will settle for it. The optioned car is a decidedly good package and could do real damage to the likes of Ford Capri, MGB GT, Fiat 124 Coupe, BMW 1600, etc."
Hot Rod November 1970, "Vega Small Car Star" said, "The Vega is a hard car not to like. Even the men who run companies that build competitive cars admit that. It is the result of the largest single expenditure by Chevrolet and General Motors for any single car model. The investment reaches into the hundreds of millions of dollars." "Plain driving comfort is without drawback. Like the Camaro, this car has relatively low spring rates, forward of the crossmember steering linkage, and its handling ability is accomplished by a matching of good suspension geometry and stabilizer bars." Braking is by front disc with rear drums, and power assist is neither available nor needed. The front discs take 70 percent of the braking duties, and on successive stops from 60 miles per hour, our car came to a halt in less than 110 feet." "If a car can go quicker than 18 seconds, it will beat the Vega in the quarter-mile. Shiting at just a hairline over 5000 rpm, our best elapsed time was 18.173. This was in stock form with nearly a full tank of regular fuel." "The four-speed is the only non-U.S. part on the car. It is made in Germany and is also used in the Opel GT. Having observed it first on a display table, we weren't ready for the ease with which it can be powershifted—. Nothing to it: just bang on the stick." "Handling is one of the Vega's highest points. It squirts through high-speed turns or around sharp corners with almost neutral steering, although foolish executions or sharp changes will bring on understeer. While the front wheels are still in command, the most predominant feel is one of oversteer. It is only a hint, but a welcome one. Power steering is available but seems unnecessary...Steering effort is hardly noticeable."
Motor Trend December 1970, "Car of the Year: Nominees," MT selected the ten best cars nominated for 1971 Car of the Year — American Motors Gremlin, Ford Pinto, Chevrolet Vega, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Charger, Mercury Couger, Oldsmobile Toronado, and Buick Rivera. MT said, "Wait a minute, you say, isn't unfair to compare a $2,500 Vega to a $6,000 Toronado? Yes, in a word, but for Car of the Year nominees, the most important consideration is value received for monies paid. In other words, the car that wins in the end is, we feel, the best value in relation to its price tag in terms of how it delivers in terms of engineering, performance and styling." We nominate the Chevrolet Vega because not only is it a new car, but it represents a number of concepts new to the American auto industry. First, Vega production is done in large part by robots, automated like our foreign competitors, in an attempt to compensate for the "human error" which has lowered the quality in many Detroit-made cars. Secondly, the Vega has a fresh engine idea — aluminum block with no iron liners — creating a healthy power-to-weight situation. The third reason the Vega was nominated was for its marketing — for instance, the offering of a hatchback coupe, a sedan, a wagon, and a sedan delivery, two of them with a "GT" package available — outstroked the competition at the outset. Plus their advertising was brilliantly calculated to reach the "thinking man" — or the VW buyers. For all these reasons the Vega was nominated."1971
Motor Trend February 1971, "1971 Car of the Year Chevrolet Vega 2300"—Built for the age of reason—"In a conference room in Palm Springs, California after a grueling 4-day ride and drive that saw 10 of Detroit's finest put through a 1000 mile wringer, we — the CARS (Conference of Automotive Research Specialists) — Karl Ludvigsen, Roy Richter, Mike Jones, and Bob Bondurant) and the MT Staff — cast our votes and made Vega 2300 Motor Trend's 1971 Car of the Year." "Even though our Car of the Year votes represent the individual thought of each man, it is appropriate that the final choice was a car that reflects Detroit's timely response to the people's needs instead of a copy writer's idea of what they should need. So, the Chevrolet Vega 2300 is Motor Trend's 1971 Car of the Year by way of engineering excellence, packaging, styling, and timeliness. As such, we are saying that, for the money, no other American car can deliver more." "Chevrolet has never lost sight of the fact that the Vega had to be satisfactory basic transportation in its lowest form. And in the last analysis, that is what swung the balance, the fact the base Vega was a magnificent automobile without any options at all. That you can actually purchace a normal car that will handle nearly as well as the higher priced GT version, the straight-as-a-plumb-line-stopping disc/drum brakes and all. And, in the U.S. of A. it's been very hard to find that in the last ten years."
Road & Track April 1971 on the Yenko Turbo Stinger II said, "A turbo-charger and other good things transform the Vega into a sports car. Even the SCCA says so." "The turbocharger unit comes off Rajay's shelf and the installation is very simple. The new carb is a sidedraft Bendix. The pistons in the turbocharged Vega will be forged instead of cast. Evidently this is one of the places where Chevrolet engineers have provided advice based on experience." "The result of all this is 155 bhp at 4800 rpm. Yenko says the prototype car carrying driver and passenger using the optional 3.36 gears did the quarter mile in 15.5 sec. and went through the traps at 85 mph. By comparison of our recent test of a Vega with the 110-bhp engine shows quarter-mile times of 19.3 and 69 mph. Even more impressive was Yenko's claim of 6.1 sec from 60-80 mph. Our test car needed 15 seconds to do it." Price isn't final but Yenko claims it will be about $3400."
Motor Trend in April 1971 on the Yenko Turbocharged Vega GT said, "...a smog-clean turbocharged Vega will destroy any of the old "classic" performance cars in the quarter-mile." "you can put a 140-cubic inch engine car through a quarter in the low-fifteens for only $700..." "You don't really use the turbocharger until you've topped 3000 rpm, then it cuts in, not with a boot, but very smoothly. As a result you don't really experience a drastic difference in acceleration than a stock Vega in a normal stoplight fashion. You just seem to magically find yourself going one heck of lot faster than in a stock version. Start by banging home the clutch at 3500 and it's another thing altogether, the 'chargers 13 pounds of boost making the Vega a mini-Z/28. Added to the Vega's already excellent handling, the combination makes for one of the most delightful cars which can be put together in the U.S. today and more than a match for several highly-touted imported sports sedans."
Car and Driver in September 1971 said of Yenko's Turbo Vega, "By coupling a small Switzer turbocharger to the intake system, Don Yenko has managed to boost horsepower to 155 and to turn his specially trimmed Vega GT hatchback into a formidable performer." "The turbo Stinger is a delight to drive...a heavy throttle application at any speed range brings the blower into play, not with a bang but extraordinary smoothness."
Motor Trend October 1971, "Vega Z/29-50% more power for under $100" said, "How can an editor of MOTOR TREND come right out in the public prints and admit the 1971 MT Car of the Year is not quite perfect? Well, one bites hard on the bullet, gazes firmly at the dyno sheets and says it: The Chevrolet Vega is not quite perfect. Just like that. All of which is not to say MT's staff and the CARS panel which picked the Vega for the C.o.t.Y is admitting to any egg on the face. It's merely a long way around to saying the Vega can be improved—significantly." "Our quick fix made a different car out of the Vega. On the road we weren't taking any sass from intermediate imports or even domestic compacts at stoplights or anywhere else." "The Vega was now a ball to drive with the engine matching the handling and maneuverability of the car under almost any conditions." "The result at small cost—under $20 for the Dyno-Tune kit and under $80 for the header (now in production)—is a Vega that really lives up to its C.o.t.Y designation, taking nothing from the likes of almost any intermediate-priced sports car you care to name nor, for that matter from domestic intermediate V8s either, a number of '72 econo-ponycars included. In fact it's what latter day ponycars should be."
Motor Trend '71 Buyers Guide said, "Here comes the reason why there hasn't been too much say about some of the other '71 Chevrolet nameplates. Engineering and styling the Vega from scratch in four different body styles was a total effort far more demanding in manpower than the Pinto or Gremlin programs." "Everything about the Vega is designed for easy service. The fenders, the bumpers and the grill bolt on. Headlights may be aimed without removing the bezels. The instrument cluster comes out with the removal of a couple of screws. The lacquer paint is claimed not to need wax or polish for life. Standard equipment includes front disc brakes, guard beams in the doors, bucket seats, power ventilation system and a choice of 10 colors." "A folding rear seat is standard for coupe and wagon models. Suspension is by coil at each wheel and a handling package complete with wide oval tires is available." "Vega styling is quite reminiscent of 1955 Chevrolets from the front with the vertical checkerboard grill and high-mounted single headlamps in each fender." "Vegas, in summary, are a striking quartet."
Road & Track March 1972, "Driving Impression: 1972 Vega" said, "Chevrolet engineers have had a year to clean up Vega's rough edges, and though the roughest edge (the engine) remains very rough indeed it is noticeably improved, along with several other details." "Despite having to meet tougher emission regulations for 1972 the new car runs as a car is supposed to run: smooth idle, no stumbling or stalling, no lean surge at medium speeds. The 1971 engine was desmogged by "engine modifications" only—retarded spark, lean carb setting, heated air intake, etc.—and it just barely ran. For 1972 the cost department gave the engineers a break and let them use air injection, which meant they could give the engine a bit more fuel to work with and let afterburning clean up the exhaust." "There are no styling changes we are happy to report...The changes all count for something; there's a little glovebox on the dash, the assembly quality is noticeably better, and the engine is quieter." "...we cannot be nearly as harsh on the Vega as we were in 1971. It's a better car and its price is more competitive."
Hot Rod magazine in a March 1972 road test "Don't Call it a Station Wagon" HR said, "Back when we carried the '72 introduction features, we named the Vega GT as our "Best Buy" pick of the Chevrolet line. We just couldn't pick any other model." "We were surprised to find the GT Kammback didn't handle any better than the car we had last year. It really didn't bend around corners as well. It seems softer sprung and we know it has higher ride height..The GT Vega is controllable and predictable. About the only thing that could really make the car handle poorly would be a heavier engine and/or 300 horsepower." "Highway and street driving is excellent. Vision is likewise. Interior comfort is excellent except that the driver's seat doesn't have another inch of rearward travel. Rear seat legroom does not exist unless the driver is five feet three. The four-speed shifter is right where your hand seems to fall, and the thick-rimmed steering wheel (standard with the GT, otherwise $15) is just right for all-day holding. One of our first long-distance trips in this car was between Phoenix and L.A., a bit over 400 miles...our drive covered mountains and desert, hot weather and cold, and even a sandstorm. We never stopped because we were uncomfortable, only because of the angle of the gas gauge needle." "Vega GT wagons make sense. They hold people comfortably (though not large ones in the back seat) and they carry spare parts in the cargo section." "The car never looks like something you "had to buy" just to haul a load of groceries or kids. It's the kind of car we'd buy to look good in, work on, add to, and wash once a week."
Motor Trend May 1972, "Twin-Cam Vega" said, "When Britain's Cosworth Engineering went looking for an aluminum block for its new sports car racing engine, they discovered the Chevy Vega. The result: Triple the power from less displacement." "The EAA weighs only 228 pounds complete...from 121.7 cubic inches (1994 cc) it has already produced 270 horsepower at 8750 rpm and better than 170 lbs-ft of torque at 7000 rpm. That makes it the words's most powerful unsupercharged two-liter racing engine. And, believe it or not, at heart it's pure Chevrolet Vega." "Now this engine is in production at Cosworth;s Northampton, England plant. Sixty are set to be made and sold this year at $6,250 apiece." "It's hard to imagine a small, sporty car that would be more exciting than a Vega GT with one of these engines under the hood." "With the right gearbox, tires and chassis tuning it could make the Vega a true sports car that could match credentials with some of the best in the $4,000 class from Europe, not to mention its potential as a Trans Am racer."
Motor Trend May 1972, "The Unmaking of the Vega"—What we found wrong at Lordstown is what's wrong with America—"The world's fastest line at Lordstown, Ohio came to a stop as a result of an ideological failure between two human factions—labor and management. The automation, however, took no sides." "Conceived as a "zero defect" car, the Chevrolet Vega spews out of GMAD's Lordstown assembly line at the rate of 100 cars per hour. Quality is dependent upon smooth interaction between man and machines. So far, the machinery has been doing its part, but it may be that an element is missing." "The Vega is a better car than many of the imports in many ways, and even with all the problems, it has become Chevy's second-best car in terms of lowest number of customer quality complaints (after the Nova). The problems have been immense." "What it all came down to, in sub-freezing Ohio, was a bunch of men were out of work and a lot of cars weren't made. Guess who loses." "GMAD (General Motors Assembly Division) moved to Lordstown in October 1971. GMAD found vast numbers of assembly line rejects stacking up in the company parking lots. These cars had to be rebuilt at a subsequent cost to GM. GMAD asked for better workmanship." "UAW 1112, probably the youngest, large (about 8000) United Auto Workers local in America, had contracts with Chevy and Fisher Body. Those agreements became invalid on both sides when GMAD took over the Vega operation. Local 1112 soon made GMAD the villan. It was argued that an 800 worker layoff, combined with the fact that Lordstown is the fastest production line in the world, constituted a a work "speed up." "Charges of assembly line "sabatoge" were leveled at the workers of local 1112." "Some of the workers interviewed admitted that they failed to either do or complete their job on the line as the unfinished Vegas rolled inexorably past them. A few admitted they had incorrectly installed various pieces and parts. One or two said they had deliberately caused damage to cars on the line. All felt that such actions were the only recourse to management's failure to ratify the local's previous agreement." GMAD said, "Look, we're not asking anyone to kill themselves for us, The potential capacity of that line is 140 cars an hour. Believe me, we'd be very happy with 100 cars an hour, two shifts a day." "Lordstown is automated and labor is alienated. When the Vega assembly line fires up it spews cars, and workers have up to 36 seconds to complete their jobs. A lot of people can't pick their noses in that amount of time." "They're betting that they can beat the low cost of foreign labor. Not with a strike on their hands they won't; not with an idle assembly line."
World Car Guide June 1972 in a Vega Kammback wagon road test said, "In brief: Loaded with everything including air conditioning and the sporty 4-speed gearbox, this Vega wagon was not inexpensive. With maximum speed in excess of 90 mph, performance was adequate but the best freeway mileage was a mediocre 18.6 miles per gallon." "Steering is quite neutral without over or under steering. Cornering is easy and stable with remarkably little leaning at normal speeds." "On slippery roads the optional "Positraction" at $40.75 proved its worth. The optional handling package-6-inch rims, ant-roll bars, etc. is a good investment for those with sporting proclivities. At $131.25 extra, we'd apt opt for this package with which are test Vega was equipped. Surprisingly, the ride is good and the brakes are superb." "The 4-speed shift lever was a joy to operate." "Our test Vega had air conditioning, an excellent unit that costs $359.80 and is well worth every cent." "The wall to wall carpeting was of good quality but the fitting and attaching to the floor left something to be desired. External body panels, likewise were rather poorly fitted around the front and rear, and here and there the finish was certainly not up to the standard. The upholstery, however was well finished and fitted in soft vinyl. The rear seat is for very small children only." "In summation, the writer must say that driving the Vega is much more pleasant than engaging in the same operation in a Maverick or a Comet but inferior, from the pleasure standpoint, to driving a Pinto or an Opel."
Road Test July 1972 in a Vega GT Kammback wagon road test said, "Our good running GT started easily from cold and most amazing of all it had none of the cold engine stumble so characteristic of this year's crop of cars." "Although straight-line go-power is not the Vega's forte, it does get high marks for more important areas to everyday driving. First of all, the Vega has really good brakes...so well balanced that we recorded a 100 ft panic stop from 60 mph with a straight line skid under lockup." "The Vega really comes into its own when driven hard on back roads. It has near neutral handling which simply means that it goes where its aimed with no fuss or excessive sawing on the steering wheel." "The ride is firm but stable in all types of terrain and is well within the boulevard standards." "Summing up the Vega GT wagon, we like it for size, ease of handling and economy."
Super Stock July 1972 in a Vega GT road test said, "It is a damn nice little car with plenty of room, great handling, and a pretty high level of overall finish." "From any angle, the Vega GT's styling is beautifully uncomplicated." "The Vega GT has an awful lot of good things going for it in the chassis department, as well. The car was engineered from the beginning to handle and stop as well as possible for the size and price class its in, and the engineers did the right thing in almost every area." The disc/drum brakes are superior to just about any of the competition's brakes, and hard, repeated stops from 60 mph didn't bother the stoppers at all." "On banked turns, flat tight turns, and curves, the Vega handled beautifully with a minimum steering effort."
Small Cars in a '72 Vega GT road test said, "Z/29 Vega GT: It's either the sportiest economy car in the world or the most economical sports car in the world." "We liked the styling of the coupe. It's clean and sporty." "Out on the ride and handling course at Raceway Park, the Vega could come storming around bends flat out in a four-wheel drift in a completely neutral attitude with very little lean thanks to the front and rear sway bars." "The car has lots of potential to be a great little fun car to drive, especially in Z/29 trim...if we were buying a Vega, we'd install a 4.11 rear axle ratio and stiff shocks plus a set of 185/70-13 tires and exhaust headers. All these things are available now from accessories manufacturers; there's even a supercharger already out for the Vega. With these accessories, the Vega would indeed have the right to wear GT badges."
Small Cars in a '72 Turbostinger road test said, "The important changes happen under the hood. A small Switzer turbocharger coupled to intake system boosts horsepower to 155." "The Turbo-Stinger is a ball to drive." "Suddenly, you're accelerating very quickly and picking up speed faster than you ever have before in a Vega." "...there's a characteristic smooth surge that doesn't quit til you lift your foot. The surge is just one great rush with no one point where all hell breaks loose. There is no moaning or whining from the blower and no roaring from the exhaust—just quiet power. Operating with a stock rear axle of 3.36 to 1, Yenko claims the Vega Stinger can cover the quarter mile in 15.3 seconds in the 90-91 mph range. Top speed is a claimed 120."
Cars International in a '72 Vega GT station wagon road test said, "...Just then, out of the corner of your eye you see a tight 40 mph curve looming ahead...the car, still traveling 20 mph faster than the posted speed limit, heads toward the apex of the turn. To your pleasant surprise the Vega wagon takes the turn with the utmost ease. Body roll is almost non-existent as the Vega maintains a flat, stable attitude through the bend. At the conclusion of your test drive, you'll probably realize as we did that the Vega GT in a lot of respects is as close to a true GT as a car can get, but on the other hand, as much an Americanized compact as the Pinto or Gremlin. To start with, the Vega's strong points would definitely lie in its smooth styling and outstanding handling." The styling, or for that matter, the design of the overall exterior and interior package is the best we've seen on a small car. As for the handling...you've got a car that'll run curves around any other station wagon and put many an import in the weeds." On the minus side there are three unsatisfactory areas: engine noise, quality control, and price. The first area we should point out that the engine settles down to a fairly quite buzz at freeway speeds." "...since our test car costs over $3400. No matter how you look at it that's quite an expenditure for an "economical" little car, even if its the best handling, best looking station wagon we've driven."
Service Station Management and Motor Service magazines in a 1972 survey, the Vega was voted –"Easiest to service, least mechanical problems and best overall in its class" by independent servicemen.
Motor Trend '72 Buyers Guide said, "Few will deny that Vega is an excellent car. It has all it takes to make a successful package: styling, superior handling, above-average power, and passenger comfort on a par with anything else in its class. Its quality, after a shaky start, is the best in GM, though this statement must be tempered with the qualification that the simpler a car is designed—the fewer parts that go into its assembly—the better quality level it will have. Its early defects were well publicized in the press, but quietly and quickly fixed through the year. By the end of 1971 most of the obvious bugs had been worked out, and the car had established a good reputation with the public."1973
Motor Trend June 1973 "Announcing Motor Trend's Hall of Fame" We've made a few nominations for the great ones and we're asking you for your list of all time winners." "Car of the Year"—1949-1973 "Motor Trend's 21 Car of the Year selections are nominated. In their day they represented domestic excellence or innovative thinking." 1971: Chevrolet Vega
Motor Trend June 1973 on the "1974 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega Twin-Cam"—Chevy's exciting 16-valve Twin-Cam Cosworth-Vega is the hottest enthusiast car from a U.S. automaker since the Z-28 and the Shelby-Mustang. Better yet, the Feds will love it because of its clean exhaust breath.—"Up top is the special head, cast of aluminum instead of the Vega's iron. It was designed along pure racing lines by England's Keith Duckworth of Cosworth Engineering Ltd., creator and builder of the V-8 engines that have powered all the World Championship Grand Prix drivers since 1968." "Chevy may be casting an envious glance at the new small transmission just introduced by Borg-Warner that's available in a five-speed version. That with this engine would really be something." "One thing it won't be is cheap. For the complete option package on the Vega fastback coupe the price tag could not be less than $3700...It could add up to America's answer to the BMW 2002 tii, if it's built with better than usual Vega quality control. About the only thing wrong with the Vega is its unpleasant engine, and Keith Duckworth has taken care of that, and then some. We can't wait to get our hands on one."
Road & Track June 1973,featured the "Vega 2300 Owner Survey"—The level of assembly doesn't match the virtues of the design—"The Vega is smaller, more nimble, and more sporting and has generated more technical interest than the rest of the maker's line since the 1963 Corvette. The Vega is thus of interest to Road & Track readers, who bought the car and responded to our owners surveys in numbers sufficient to allow a survey of 150 owners rather early in the model's life." Fully 20% of the owners responding to our survey are less than 21 years old...and 65% are between 21 and 30. The models and options reflect an interest in machinery, with 65% of the cars having the GT package...only 10% of the cars had automatic transmissions and 4% had the basic 3-speed manual. For utility 40% bought the hatchback coupe (or was this for style?)...For comfort, 24% have air conditioning...13% of the owners volunteered they had made changes after purchase—shock absorbers, engine tuning kits and headers being the most popular.
The most popular reason for purchase was handling with 53%. Close behind that was style with 51%. The Vega's design attracted 47%. The Vega's low price was a lure for 19% and 24% said they were influenced by its promise of economy..."
"Five Best Features—Reliability, Handling, Economy, Design, Comfort. A whopping 65% found Vega handling to be the best thing about the car. "Five Worst Features—Engine Roughness, Lack of Power, Gearshift, Quality, Noise." "The favorite "worst"—and it was close—was noise and vibration... And 21% complained about a lack of power." "The engine gave trouble to one-third of the owners...The head gaskets blew for 8% of the owners...20% reported carburetor troubles as a separate category." "70% would buy another Vega and 30% wouldn't, show a high degree of dissatisfaction with the car." "And while we have have many owners with problems we also have 16%, a better-than-average percentage, of cars with no trouble at all. The design and the concept are sound, just as Chevrolet intended and as the buyers hoped."
Road & Track June 1973 in a Vega GT road test said, "The 1973 Vega is still the stylish, somewhat sporting economy car it was when new, but improved. A look at the adjacent Vega owner survey and previous R&T Vega tests will show that the Vega needed improvements. The concept is sound, as we say there, but the details and one major component (the engine) are troublesome." "The engine is doubly improved, as it has the reduced emissions required by law and better performance regardless of official power ratings." "...reduced acceration comes despite new gearing and better economy partly because of it. Progress in both areas on one car is rare." "The Vega shifter is ranked as a worst feature by Vega owners and it has been improved for '73." "The gearshift has been reworked to match the new transmission.. It's less balky and more precise than the original units." "Vega engine noise and roughness got another bad mark from the owners... The engine does thrash at high rpm in the lower gears but not as much as before, and at road speeds the Vega is now quieter than most 4-cyl sedans." "The owners have listed handling as the best feature and so have we since the car was new. The optional radial tires have improved upon a good thing, then as the '73 Vega had improved road feel and the tires didn't nibble over lines and cracks in the pavement. With these tires the Vega does better on the skidpad than every other car in our test summary except the Jaguar XJ6, very select company indeed. It also outdoes the '73 Corvette on its radials in this particular test..." R&T concluded, "After what we've said about earlier Vegas, it's a pleasure to report the current Vega is attractive, respectably quick, and frugal-and it's the best highway car in class. Well done Chevrolet.."
Road & Track August 1973, "Cosworth Vega For The Road" said, "With the Cosworth Vega, Chevrolet breaks new ground in American production engine design. It is the first twincam design and the first 4-valve (per cylinder) design since the classic days, and the first to incorporate electronic fuel injection." The new Cosworth Vega engine retains such technological breakthroughs as the the all-aluminum diecast cylinder block, silicon bore surfaces and iron-plated aluminum pistons. But here the similarity ends. The Vega twincam is an all-aluminum structure from the block right up to the camshaft cover. Total weight is 305 ready to run. This is 40 lb less than the base Vega engine." "The chamber floor is formed by a deep-dish aluminum piston giving 8.5:1 compression ratio, up a half-point from the standard engine. For extra strength and durability pistons are forged, not cast as in the current Vega." "Little cost was spared in designing and producing the Cosworth Vega to be as "bullet-proof" as possible. For instance, connecting rods are magnafluxed to detect cracks and then shot-peened to reduce surface stress, processes previously reserved for high-output engines like the Z/28. The crankshaft is forged (the standard one is cast) and the surface is hardened by a Tuftriding heat treatment for fatigue resistance. The crank is unique in another respect; a shortened throw compared to the current Vega engine, which reduces the stroke from 3.62 in. to 3.16 in. and the displacement from 140 cu in. (2.3 liters) to 122 cu in. (2 liters). Engines currently being tested are putting out about 130 bhp net at the 7000-rpm redline, an increase of of 45 bhp over the high-output engine with 2-barrel carburetor. Torque is is an impressive 125 lb-ft and the curve is unusually flat from 2000 to 7000 rpm. Development work is still being conducted to further improve mid-range torque without sacrificing top-end power so these numbers aren't final." "The Vega's already good handling has been improved further..roll-couple distribution has been revised to reduce understeer." "Engines will be built by hand using production specialists in a special off-line room at Chevrolet's Tonawanda engine plant. Time will be no object—each engine and each car will be built right regardless of how long it takes, so say the Chevrolet people."Cosworth Vega-16 Valve. More than an engine. A taut muscled GT coupe to devastate the smugness of BMW 2002tii's and 5-speed Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTs, A limited run of 4000 machines, each one built away from the tumult of the assembly line to precision tolerances, as a show of technical force by Chevrolet. All of them will be collectors items. That is because Chevrolet has done the right thing...they've culled all the best Vega components—the body and much of the chassis—and started almost from the beginning with the powertrain." "Chevrolet was not likely to design up a completely new engine just to make a few Vegas go fast. But it did. In fact, it had started even before the Vega was announced publicly." "It was not until Easter of 1971 that Chevrolet Engineering put together a proposal—a gussied-up Vega fastback with a Cosworth engine—to show John DeLorean. The car was to be an image builder, a little something to show the world that Chevrolet Engineering could knock BMW off with its left hand if it wanted to. DeLorean liked it. So the project started off on its unsteady path toward eventual limited production. In the final version, the engine is basically a Cosworth design—although it is made entirely in the U.S." "In addition to the obvious high-rpm benefits of the shortened stroke, it also brings about a dramatic reduction in engine vibration, something the Vega has needed every bit as much as more horsepower." "Even though the Vega GT is an exceptionally capable small car, they've chosen to stiffen the springs and shocks and redistribute the roll couple more to the front. The interior will be much the same as a Vega GT except for an 8000 rpm tach and an engine-turned aluminum instrument panel." "The Cosworth Vega is meant for driving, not showing off." "The Cosworth Vega will please its owner by virtue of its efficiency and sophistication." "The Cosworth Vega is closer to an uncompromised GT car than anything Detroit has ever built."
Road Test September 1973, "Technical Report: The Cosworth Vega Engine" RT said, "The ZO9 Cosworth Vega is a direct derivative of the EA racing engine. Although it will probably be widely thought of as a souped up Vega engine, it is in truth a de-tuned EA racing engine. It lacks the EA's dry sump lubricating system (neither necessary nor desirable for passenger car application), has a lower compression ratio and different valve timing and uses Bendix electronic fuel injection in place of the Lucas mechanical injection, but bore, stroke and valve sizes are identical. The Bendix injection is actually more sophisticated than the Lucas since it has to cope with a wider range of operating conditions as well as emission controls.
Road & Track October 1973, "Annual Model Change, 1974" said, "Thus we have the Vega, which has evolved into a fully competitive economy car that can be fun to drive..." "Chevrolet has given the Vega a set of 5-mph front and rear bumpers appropriate to its light, economical nature: aluminum bumpers on metal springs. These add 68 lb weight and 3.2 in. length to the Vega—but a conventional steel system also considered would have added 150 lb. Front and rear ends of the car have been redesigned to harmonize with the more massive bumpers; at the front a slope-down treatment with multi-slot grill visually minimizes the bumper projection." A prototype Cosworth Vega was on hand for driving impressions." Our test drive was around a serpentine but flat course with sweeping and tight turns appropriate for speeds of 30 to 60 mph. In a smooth-pavement workout like this the Cosworth Vega is delightful. The suspension roll resistance has been redistributed toward the front to give more understeer than the standard Vega handling package—anti roll bar diameters are 0.900 in. front, 0.625 in. rear vs 0.875 and 0.750—to keep the car tame with its greatly increased power. It works—the Cosworth Vega corners flat and fast and its simple work to corner in just the attitude one wants it to."
Hot Rod December 1973, Roddin' Random said, "On May 17, 1973, the one-millionth Vega trundled down the ways and out the door of Chevy's Lordstown plant. Chevrolet was so smitten with the car, they've built 6143 "Millionth Vegas." The series is basically a styled-up Vega GT with some nice interior touches.. It comes with bright orange paint, white stripping, a "Millionth Vega" decal in the door handle, and power steering. They'll probably sell a million of 'em."
Road & Track December 1973, "Road Tester's Year" said, "As for the Vega, kudos to Chevrolet for finally making this car what it should have been in the first place by hard work in refining the details. It's now quieter, quicker, and more economical than the first year (1971) Vega was—and as you must realize by now that is quite an accomplishment. The price is still attractive too, and note that our test car (with optional wide wheels and tires) had cornering power solidly into the sportscar class."1974
Car and Driver January 1974 & 1974 Buyers Guide said of the Cosworth Vega, "The Cosworth Twin-cam Vega is Chevrolet's latest Image Car, temporarily upstaging even the Corvette. Chevy, late into the small-car market with the Vega, has something to prove. And they're doing it with a race motor tuned for the street and harnessed to an American sub-compact." "Very subtle indeed are the differences between the Cosworth Vega cylinder head and that of the Cosworth Ford-DFV three-liter V8 used in Formula One." "Pintos and Opels drop behind in an instant. Mazdas, V6 Capris and 240Zs are a little tougher, but fair game. And if you're willing to stir the shifter, BMW 2002 tiis and Alfa GTVs are yours for the conquering. In fact, the only 4-passenger coupes faster than a Cosworth Vega have a Detroit V8 under the hood," "A natural part of the appeal is exclusivity. Chevrolet engineers have sold management on 5000 cars...there will be less than one for each of Chevrolet's 6000 dealers."
Car and Driver June 1974, "Tire Test" said, "The selection of the test car was staightforward. The Cosworth Twin Cam Vega is specifically designed for sporting driving. The well-balanced suspension allows investigation of the individual tire characteristics at higher speeds and under more varied conditions than would be possible with almost any other small car. The appropriate speed, acceleration, and distance recording instruments were fitted to the Cosworth Vega for each test."
Road Test July 1974 Test report on a '74 Vega LX Notchback said, "...It's very apparent from driving the 1974 model that a lot of invisible changes have been made—all for the better, we are happy to report." "Vega engineers have tamed the low-speed characteristics of the engine. It's wonderfully torquey and flexible at drive-away speeds, and you can shift early into fourth and chug around town all day if you like..in normal driving low and mid-range torque is what counts and this engine has plenty of it." "The Vega ride is not like that of a Caprice, but neither is it a choppy "little-car" ride thanks to the big car rear suspension (coil springs and control arms), ample suspension travel and reasonably good damping..." "The standard manual steering is on the heavy side and is too slow to permit fancy maneuvering..." "Braking performance is right in there too, which is credited to the brakes themselves and the big (radial) tires." "In summary, the 1974 Vega is a vastly improved car over the original and even over last year's model. All of the important gripes have been taken care of and it can now face up to its competition, domestic and imported, on a feature for feature basis."
Road & Track August 1974, "What Happened to the Cosworth Vega"—Chevrolet really wasn't ready last fall— "Just one year ago we featured the Cosworth Vega with a flourish: it appeared on our cover and a technical analysis of it occupied five R&T pages." "At the time of our story, however, the critical 50,000-mile durability test required for final government certification of any car-engine "family" hadn't been run. The Chevrolet engineers were only in the final stages of their basic engineering work, still working out things like valve timing, idle speed and ignition-advance curve." "Of course the two CV's met all the emission standards when they began their 50,000-mile journey, but trouble began to develop quickly." "..the second car's engine was down on power. A compression check showed two leaky cylinders, and since repairs extending into the combustion chambers themselves are not permitted by EPA rules, there was probably no alternative but to discontinue the test on that car. Chevrolet did just that, issued a release to that effect and added "additional efforts to certify the engine may still be made—but none have been scheduled." "For now it's crunch time. A relatively exotic, limited-production car for which the effort to certify is large in proportion to its commercial value to the carmaker is the natural car to be abandoned when the going gets tough."
Road & Track 1974 "Fuel saver" driving impressions said of the '74 Vega, "Although attractive in design outside and in, the Vega still doesn't quite have the assembly standards to match the better imports; it's built to a price and can be dressed up by various optional equipment without becoming really refined. As a performer, the Vega does extremely well. With the 75-horsepower engine and the 3-speed manual transmission, the unadorned car is basic transportation that can beat many imports on a cost-per-mile basis. With the 85-horsepower engine, 4-speed manual, the handling package and radial tires, it is a lively car with excellent roadholding and braking. Its engine is also strong enough to handle an automatic transmission and air conditioning without an unacceptable performance loss."
Road Test October 1974 said, "When you've got a winner, why change? That was no doubt the question across the table at the '75 design conference for the Vega and one which brought out the obvious answer. So the hatchback, notchback coupe and wagons are physically unchanged for 1975, but there are some important changes that can't be seen...but can be appreciated! The engine has received a lot of work to increase engine life and performance. The addition of hardened exhaust valve seats and overheating protection are two steps, but generally the life of the engine components has been significantly extended."
Cars February 1975 said, "Cosworth Vega option package will be expensive but well worth it to the buff." "...it should be capable of sub-nine-second 0-60 times and 17-second quarters right off the showroom floor, using the standard 7000-rpm redline. That may not sound too impressive by today's supercar standards but remember that it also stops and corners like a sports car and gets 20-25 miles per gallon all day long.
Car and Driver's Patrick Bedard reported in a 1975 editorial that on October 12, 1974 he piloted their '73 Vega GT #0 in Car and Driver's SS/Sedan Challenge III and had just edged out an Opel to win the race. Bedard said, "The lone Vega outran every single Opel, Colt, Pinto, Datsun, Toyota and Subaru on the starting grid. From the summit of the winner's platform I could see the car in the impound area, a metallic bronze coupe with a big yellow zero on its battle-scared flank. I had driven it there after the victory lap, the tech inspectors pushing it off the scales probing under the hood, looking for the secrets of its speed. It had done the job-this Vega GT faced off against 31 other well-driven showroom stocks and it had finished first." "Five laps from the end I discovered that once the tank drops below a quarter full, the fuel wouldn't pick up in the right turns. Twice per lap the carburetor would momentarily run dry. And if that wasn't bad enough, the temperature gauge read exactly 230 degrees (detonation point) and a white Opel was on my tail as unshakably as a heat-seeking missile. But it was also clear that no matter how good a driver Don Knowles was and no matter how quick his Opel, he wasn't going to get by if the Vega simply stayed alive. Which it did. You have to admire a car like that. If it wins, it must be the best, never mind all of the horror stories you hear, some of them from me."
Motor Trend April 1975, "10 Best Selling (American Made) Cars." "The Vega has been vacillating on the sales charts from just out of the top 10 to just into the top 10. We have to conclude that Monza sales have hurt the Vega and will continue to do so." "Vega's strong points are fuel economy and very good handling of the body roll variety, as apposed to the sliding rear end variety. The shortcomings are lack of power and excessive engine noise. Much of this will be solved by the long-promised Cosworth engine, but then the low price will be jeopardized."
Chevy Action in a 1975 Vega GT Hatchback road test said, "What really surprised us about the GT was the high level of quality control which was evident. The carpets and upholstery came off really great and everything fit. There were no rattles or no ill-fitting panels." "When you talk about overall performance, there's not too much you can say...you have to allow between 12.2 and 12.8 seconds to get to 60 mph from a dead stop and and over 19 seconds to tour the quarter-mile." "Handling-wise the Vega GT has it all over its competitors. It corners flat, has excellent directional stability and its front and rear sway bars really keep the act together. Braking requires some effort but stopping power is good. All controls are well grouped which helps make sporty-car type driving possible." "We still don't care for the engine and can't wait until we get a Cosworth to play with." "Overall the GT really did impress us. From a standpoint of economy, quality features, handling and braking, the Vega is a winner."
Motor Trend August 1975, "1975 Vega Wagon" MT tested a Vega GT wagon—"Our '75 Vega wagon demonstrated improvements in creature comforts and noise isolation. It is distinctly a better car than its predecessors, but the real question is, is it good enough?" "The most obvious source of annoyance is its rough and noisy four-cylinder engine...for some reason, General Motors has been able to make only small improvements in isolating the Vega engine." "The wagon body is good looking and with the fold-down rear seat it provides a good degree of utility in a small-sized car." "Vegas have always had good handling characteristics and our test car didn't let us down in this department. The brakes are also excellent with 60 mph stopping distances of less than 110 feet."
Car and Driver October 1975, "How to Hatch an Engine" said, "Cal Wade's patience is shot, but his race-bred engine is in production. Just don't expect such a thing to ever happen again." "The Cosworth Vega 16-valve four cylinder is the most sophisticated engine Detroit ever made. Yet the men who created this mechanical work of art and the public that patiently waited its arrival must regard the car in a different light. They will not soon forget the record gestation period: five long years from concept to customer." "So with this last jewel of a gift to car freaks, an era has passed. Never again will the motives, the means and the manpower combine to deliver a racing engine to the street." "The reason the Cosworth Vega isn't neck-snapping quick is simple: it has a poor power-to-weight ratio. When the first hints of the Cosworth were heard, 140-hp numbers were bandied about; but in the harsh reality of 1975, the dyno says 111." "What you get in the 1975 Cosworth Vega is an instant collectors item. A total of 2062 cars have been built, and after 3000 1976 versions, there's a strong possibility the Cosworth project will end." "..every possible step was taken to make the Cosworth both a low polluter and a bulletproof exercise in durability. One Chevrolet criterion is that all engine designs live for 200 hours at full load, cycled between the torque peak and horsepower peak. The Cosworth Vega endured this type of punishment for over 500 hours. In fact, it is possibly the most durable high-performance engine ever built." "The outstanding feature of the Cosworth Vega is its excellent balance..Roll-stiffness distribution is ideal, with little understeer entering a turn, and just the right amount of drift from the tail as you put your foot down to exit." "Braking is sure, and the high efforts involved with 1976's semi-metallic pads and larger brakes give you the feel you need to out-deep all comers." "Through the woods or down a mountain, the Cosworth is a feisty aggressor willing, if not altogether able to take on the world's best GT cars."
Motor Trend February 1976 International Report-"The 60,000-mile Vega" reported, "Chevrolet conducted a 60,000 miles in 60 days Durability Run of the 1976 Vega and its Dura-Built 140 engine. Chevrolet chose a 349-mile Southwestern desert route in order to show the severely criticized engine and cooling system had been improved in the 1976 model. In more than 180,000 miles of total driving, the cars used only 24 ounces of coolant, an amount attributed to normal evaporation under severe desert conditions. Furthermore, fuel economy for the three test Vegas averaged 28.9 mpg over the duration of the run, while oil was used at the rate of only one quart every 3400 miles. All three 1976 Vegas completed the total 180,000 miles with only one "reliability" incident — a broken timing belt was recorded."
Car and Driver September 1976 Short Take on the Cosworth Vega said, "The Cosworth is no more..a noble experiment that failed..the execution was a severe disappointment. Time and weight killed the Cosworth. The low priority of a project contrary to the corporate grain dragged the motor through a five-year gestation period while the Vega for which it was destined grew fat and heavy.. one regulation after another took its toll on the car's power to weight ratio."
Car and Driver July 1980, "History of 0-60" included the 1974 pre-production Cosworth Vega in its top 25 list with the quickest time of 1974, at 7.7 seconds. C&D said, "And then a remarkable thing happened as raw speed wound down and people started worring about fuel economy for the first time. A little four-cylinder Vega set the pace in 1974 with help from across the pond in the form of a Cosworth sixteen-valve cylinder head."
Car and Driver January 1986, "Ten Best" issue included the '76 Cosworth Vega in Ten Best Collectibles (1976-1986). C&D said, One of those noble efforts that giant automakers mount from time to time to break themselves out of the stultifying technological mainstream, this factory hot rod—like most—was a neat idea that didn't work out." "What the the Vega did have was good basic handling and what the British-designed aluminum head offered was a crossflow design, twin overhead cams, and four valves per cylinder. You can get all that stuff in Toyotas now but until the Cosworth Vega was launched in the Spring of 1975, you pretty much had to buy a Ford for Indy or F1 to call it your own. We're talking about historical significance here." "The Cosworth Vega was a keen car to drive when it came out and not many came out, so its original owners recognized what they had."
Autoweek January 19, 1987, "Escape Road"—Cosworth Vega: Great expectations not realized—"Chevrolet planned on building 5000 Cosworth Vegas in 1975, but in two years only 3508 were made. It was quietly discontinued after the 1976 model year. Why didn't it sell? Perhaps because it took too long to come out, and because there was too little when it came out. You couldn't get air conditioning or an automatic transmission. (though a five-speed was optional). And at $6000 in 1975, it was too expensive for a Vega, by then already a victim of horrendous publicity." "True to design, the engine ran smoothly if rather gutlessly down low. It unwound like silk thread from a spool from there..." "The displacement had been decreased from 2.3 liters to just under two liters by destroking, allowing high rpm and fewer shakes. The power peaked well up the rev range, at 5600rpm, and maximum torque—107lbs ft—came at 4800rpm, a point at which a standard Vega gasped for air." "More's then the pity that history conspired against one of the General's more inspired concepts."
Automobile Quarterly said in 1989, "The Cosworth Vega concept was effectively spawned in late 1969, nearly six years before the car reached the showroom floor." "The Cosworth Vega had all the makings of a great car. Had it been given higher priority earlier in its development, it might have been on the market two or three years sooner. And those three years would have meant less restrictive emissions and bumper standards, which would have made the car a lighter and more powerful contender. It might even have saved the ordinary Vega's reputation. Then, the Cosworth Vega would likely be remembered today as a milestone performance car rather than as the swan song of the late, unlamented Vega line.
Car and Driver in its 35th anniversary retrospective issue in 1990 mentioned the Vega three times. Detroit Fights Back - Ford Pinto and Vega 2300: "...they are the best, most import-beating subcompacts that American Technology knows how to build. If VW and the other small intruders survive this attack, they'll be assumed invincible." Cosworth Vega Preview: "A sixteen-valve head on a Vega aluminum block seems like a neat idea to us, so we rev up our prose. The car when it finally arrives, cannot keep up with our feverish preview." Showroom-Stock Challenge III: "We win again, this time in a Vega GT, proof that truth is stranger than fiction."
Musclecar Review January 1990, "Chevrolet's Cosworth Vega-a bright star in search of a market" said, "In concept and potential, the Cosworth Vega was a sophisticated, snappy little stinger of a sports car with the dramatic elegance of a well healed millionaire. Had the car made it through development undiluted, this story would have had a happier ending, but sadly, after suffering the compromises of General Motor's 40th floor corner-cutting and committee-think, the Cosworth Vega, in much the same fashion as Ford's SVO Mustang ten years later, emerged as the answer to the question no one was asking — a regrettable legacy for a promising car that deserved better."
Motor Trend in its 50th anniversary issue in September 1999 said, "The Vega seemed well placed to set the standard for subcompacts in the 70s, but it was troubled by one of the most vulnerable Achilles heels in modern automotive history; an alloy four-cylinder engine block that self destructed all too easily, and all too often. Once the word got out the damage was done, even though the engine had been revamped."
Hemmings Classic Car September 2006 "1975" said, "There's something a bit different about Chevrolet's Cosworth Vega. Perhaps it's the Euro-style monochromatic paint with gold trim, gold 13-inch alloys and the gold engine-turned fascia with a serial-numbered plaque. Or perhaps it's the Cosworth-developed 110hp, 2.0-liter, dual overhead cam, fuel-injected 16-valve, four-cylinder engine and 4- or 5-speed manual gearbox. The Cosworth Vega is handsome and distinctive, but very expensive at $5,979, and few buyers appear.
Hemmings Classic Car December 2007 "Viva Las Vegas"—Chevrolet's Cosworth Vega makes 110hp seem like plenty—"The Cosworth truly feels like a subcompact car, as any car built on a 97-inch wheelbase should, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The fenders seem close enough to touch, as does the rear hatch glass, and the road feels much closer, more personal. But you don't feel like you have to fold yourself in and out of the doors, thanks to their length." "Once at speed, the Cosworth simply goes where you point it without any noticeable understeer or oversteer..Just point and go." "The engine, along with a four-speed transmission, a heavy-duty radiator, gold painted aluminum wheels, an engine-turned aluminum gauge panel and special striping and decals, formed the Z09 Cosworth Vega Special Performance Equipment package. Chevrolet launched the Cosworth Vega as a separate model with a $5,915.60 price tag (more than double the base Vega hatchback) on April 17, 1975. With a few minor changes--most notably the addition of eight exterior colors to 1975's black-only palette and a five-speed transmission to the option list--the Z09 package continued for 1976, but Chevrolet brass killed the option in July of that year." "One hundred ten horsepower got me around the semi trailers and up to shudder speed easily enough." "Because all the power lies up in that stratosphere--and because the engine, at peak, develops just 107-lbs.ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm--starting line grunt felt noticeably absent. But the brakes felt good, the seats felt good and the Vega handled corners better than it should've." Owner Jim Ruby said, "A lot of guys tell me just to stick a V-8 in it, and I could, but I like the way it handles with a four-cylinder, which is just perfect for all the curvy back roads around here."
Super Chevy June 2011 "1971 Chevrolet Vega - Right Idea, Wrong Car"—The Cosworth Vega was a fine automobile that was doomed from the start.—"The Cosworth Vega is probably the most interesting story out of Chevrolet in the mid-'70s. Performance was at its nadir. The Camaro Z28 was axed for '75, the Corvette was using a chassis that dated to the fall of 1962 and Zora Arkus-Duntov's dream of a mid-engine replacement was about to be shot down permanently. Midsize muscle? Dead. John Zachary DeLorean is credited with the idea of the Cosworth Vega. It was a bold idea -- a new kind of performance for a new era. Think about it: Stick a dual-overhead-cam 2.0-liter engine with electronic fuel injection and a high-flow exhaust header engineered by an English company known for its success in international racing circles into a small vehicle." "For one thing, the price was astronomical -- the base was only a few hundred bucks short of a new Corvette and with options like on our feature car you were staring down the barrel of a $6,700 window sticker. This alone pretty much ensured the car would not sell in large quantities." " Our feature car, a '76 Mahogany beauty with under 6,000 miles on it, is owned by Paul Chicky of South Carolina. It sat unsold until 1977." "It is estimated that fewer than 50 '76 Cosworths were built in this rich hue, making it the rarest of what owners call the colored Cosworths." While its Cosworth-designed 110-horsepower doesn't sound like much today, that was the equal of many V-8s of the era, including the 262-cubic-inch small-block offered in the '75 Nova and Monza 2+2. From a historical standpoint, the Cosworth Vega was the first Chevy to use electronic fuel injection (from Bendix) and have aluminum wheels as standard equipment (wrapped in BR70-13-inch radial tires)." "No, the Cosworth Vega is not an L88 Corvette or a COPO Camaro. But as GM's first modern high-tech performance car, it certainly warrants respect and admiration today."
Hemmmings Classic Car June 2011 "35 Fun-to-Drive Station Wagons that You Must Own" editor Richard Lentinello said, "Chevrolet Vega Kammback - Okay, so the sleeveless aluminum engine wasn't one of Chevy's brightest ideas, but if you find a car with a solid body and decent interior, you can always have the engine rebuilt with steel cylinder liners--or just drop in a Cosworth Twin Cam for some real fun. That issue aside, these are well-styled cars with a compelling design that just can't be beat in the looks department. The four-passenger Kammback is ideal if you need a station wagon to haul some cargo and like to drive small, nimble cars with quick steering. If you like this wagon's size but prefer not to deal with the engine problems, then instead consider the Astre Safari with the durable Iron Duke four-cylinder..."
Super Chevy August 2011 "100 Most Significant Chevys Of All Time" — " In honor of Chevrolet's 100th anniversary this November, Super Chevy's editors compiled a list of what we feel are the 100 most significant Chevys of all time."
"100. 1975-'76 Cosworth Vega: This was supposedly John DeLorean's attempt to create a modern version of the GTO. The ingredients were there--dual overhead cam EFI engine, a robust suspension and a decent power-to-weight ratio. It was the first Chevy with electronic fuel injection, a five-speed transmission, and aluminum wheels as standard." "It had more modern technology in it than a Vette of the same vintage and proved there were still people at Chevy in the mid-'70s who cared about performance."
Hemmings Classic Car December 2011, "The Way it Should Have Been," senior editor Jim Donnelly said, "I got an envelope from my longtime pal Robin Hartford, a fellow road warrior from my racing life. Inside was a copy of an English project from his high school in Sanford, Maine. Robin had already driven a Volkswagen and a Ford Pinto and decided to write a comparison road test involving all three popular subcompacts of the time as a very ambitious school term paper. He needed to find a 1970 Chevrolet Vega even though the local dealers were sold out. His brother directed him to a buddy who'd just bought a new yellow Vega coupe optioned with a Powerglide, a 2.53 rear gear, and barely showing break-in miles. A photo from that subjective, non-instrumented test is published here." "On paper--very much an equivocation--the Vega should have been one of the great triumphs in Chevrolet or GM history, ranked right alongside the Corvette or the small-block V-8 (whose design, like the Vega's, was overseen by the great Ed Cole). The 140-cu.in. OHC with its aluminum block and cast-iron cylinder head was radical at the time." "In real life, Vega engines failed so regularly (heat-related piston scuff) that through 1975, Chevrolet was either resleeving their cylinders or replacing them entirely. Too bad, because GM went out of its way to make the Vega look great externally." "Therefore, we have Robin, a teenager from Maine who would join the Navy two years later and patrol the Mediterranean at the height of the Cold War, completing a credible comparison test that the Vega mostly won. Forty-plus years after he wrote it, one sentence stands out: The Vega will always be a bright star in the heavens, but to some it will be a symbol of what Detroit can do, will do and must do if it wants to remain in the competitive automobile industry."
Motor Trend November 2012, "Car of the Year 1949-Present"—The Chronicle of Caliper Recipients—"Bob Bondurant may have said it best: "I've been away from American cars for about five years and it is pleasantly surprising to see how good they've gotten, especially these new little ones." In a conference room in Palm Springs, California, after a grueling 4-day ride and drive that saw then of Detroit's finest put through a 1,000 mile wringer, we -- the CARS (Conference of Automotive Research Specialists) -- Karl Ludvigsen, Roy Richter, Mike Jones and Bondurant) and the MT Staff -- cast our votes and made Vega 2300 Motor Trend's 1971 Car of the Year. The result wasn't altogether a surprise. Though the nominated cars comprised what we felt to be the ten best new automobiles in America, there was the nagging suspicion, that, in design, at least some of them were concepts whose time may have passed. In the final voting, it was close but sheer size held not the clout of former years."
Hemmings Classic Car June 2013, "Cars of Future Past"—Chevrolet Vega—Kurt Ernst said, "Designed to go head-to-head with the best compact cars in the world, the Chevrolet Vega seemed like it had the potential to modernize the American automotive industry. Though the car itself was hardly revolutionary (except, perhaps, for its unlined die-cast aluminum four-cylinder engine block), the process by which it was designed, the factory in which it was assembled and even the method by which it was transported from factory to depot could have changed nearly every facet of how cars went from concept to showroom floor. "As is often the case with ambitious products and ideas, the Chevrolet Vega somehow failed to deliver on its accumulated potential." "Though the Vega’s die-cast aluminum engine had undergone some 6 million miles of development testing, serious reliability issues surfaced soon after the car’s release. Chevrolet took until 1976 to resolve issues with the Vega’s 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, and by then even a serious marketing effort to promote the new “Dura-Built 140″ engine proved to be too little, too late." "Problems with the Vega went beyond engine cooling and oil consumption issues, though they’d both ultimately contribute to the Vega’s legacy (as would the propensity of its Fisher body to rust through before the payment book was emptied). Mechanical and engineering issues aside, the modernization of the Lordstown Assembly Plant took a huge motivational toll on its UAW workers. Even before a 1972 strike would halt Vega production for nearly 30 days, rumors circulated that employees were deliberately performing substandard work, or worse, sabotaging cars." "Though some see the Vega as the car that began a long period of decline for General Motors, others choose to see it as a car that proved GM could think outside the proverbial box.
Hemmings Classic Car March 2014, "Chevrolutionary!"—The much-maligned Chevrolet Vega was ahead of its time, advancing new technology in an industry that desperately needed it in the 1970s—editor in chief Terry Shea said, "Small, attractive, economical to buy and efficient to own, the sporty and thrifty little car marked big changes at GM, upending nearly 60 years of the way Chevrolet did business. From its revolutionary die-cast aluminum engine block, to its small dimensions, to its innovative manufacturing and distribution techniques, the Vega screamed "New," though its design was otherwise relatively conventional." "It's good looks were undeniable, particularly so when compared to the somewhat frumpy Pinto and quirky love-it-or-hate-it Volkswagen." "The Vega was an immediate hit, enjoying a few good years in the showroom, but was ultimately undone by a host of quality issues that plaqued the car in its early years and damaged its reputation almost beyond repair." Despite fixing these problems in the ensuing years—and turning the Vega into a pretty reliable car—it was too late, and the model was finished by 1977. "But Chevrolet did save the best for last in the form of the sublime Cosworth Vega, a sports car with an exotic double-overhead-cam, 16-valve, four cylinder engine; a suspension to match and sophistication decades ahead of most other cars." "Given the many jabs taken at the Vega in the ensuing decades since it went out of production, it takes a special kind of person to embrace the Vega. Fortunately, Robert Spinello is not your average collector. His garage includes not one but two, ultra-low mileage, limited-edition Vegas, both unrestored originals, and so pristine that the Monroney stickers have never been removed from the windows."
"Big, round gauges and simulated engine-turned dash perfectly fit the sporty Cosworth Vega, with its high-strung and powerful 16-valve four-cylinder engine." " Millionth Edition Vega's striking color combination of Bright Orange paint with a wide white stripe down the middle is mimicked on the flashy interior, complete with orange carpet. Who says the Seventies had no style? As with his Cosworth Vega, the owner keeps this ultra-low mileage car in as-new condition."
Hemmings Motor News May 2014 "Heart of a Briton-1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega"—For diehards only, a 1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega—editor Jim Donnelly said, "You have to give General Motors credit: When it got something wrong, it was still willing to try something different, even back in the grim 1970s. But the mavens at Chevrolet believed, that's for sure, and they actually approved the Cosworth Vega for production. It lasted two years, 1975 and 1976. The Cosworth Vegas, those that still exist, present proof that rarity doesn't always equal desirability. And they're undeniably scarce. High prices and tepid performance--the de-smogged, twin-cam Cosworth-head engine made only 110 hp when it was introduced--effectively doomed the car before it was ever offered to the public. This example is a 1976, so distinguished by the lack of parking lights flanking the grille slats and larger taillamps. We located it in the car corral at Auburn last fall, the Auctions America sale, as the outdoor crowd fled an onrushing squall line. It was a Cosworth Vega that looked as troubled as the car's history. Like all of its brethren, it was a four-speed car, with white interior--at least, that's the color it was originally." "While it's got an owner's club and two registries, the Cosworth Vega is, at best, a performance obscurity. A few more than 3,500 were built, 1,447 in 1976, against some 190,000 Vegas over the two years combined. The seller was seeking a firm $4,200 for this one."
Hemmings Daily September 2, 2014 "Driving Impression: 1976 Cosworth Vega" editor Jeff Koch said, Sit inside, and the first surprise is that there’s room for real American-sized human beings in here: the door opens wide, and getting in is not an issue. The houndstooth-covered buckets could stand a bit more support once you’re in place, but they’re mounted low enough that there’s surprising head room in a car that only comes up to the middle of your chest. The engine-turned applique is as sporty as what came on Trans Ams of the era...The bulge in the hood, not exclusive to the Cosworth, manages to look suitably aggressive...Turn the key, press the clutch and the engine settles into a 1300rpm idle, its chatty mechanical thrum sending a shiver through the shifter that blurs the printed gear pattern atop the handle. It’s the engine, not the exhaust, making the noise. And what’s this? Dogleg First on the 5-speed? Sporting indeed. The shifter is stiff but the clutch is light–so light you can barely feel it engaging as you lift your leg." "Somewhere north of two grand things start happening and, as is the case in so many naturally-aspirated 16-valve four-cylinders we’ve driven, real power comes on line around 3,000 RPM, and it revs strong clear through the 6,500 RPM redline. Layers of sound gradually introduce themselves, and every thousand revs above three grand give an entirely new tone to the proceedings." "A word, if we might, about the ride quality..it’s planted, it tracks straight as a laser, and the ride quality is surprisingly smooth considering the short wheelbase. The brakes are nothing special–disc/drum, notable more for the relative lack of weight they need to haul down than for any special distinction on their own." "Of course, the cost of a Cosworth Vega, new, put you within ten percent of a new Corvette; for that kind of cash, it should feel special. (A quick check in the NADA used-car price guide shows that, almost 40 years later, a Cosworth Vega and a base Corvette coupe are still valued nearly the same–$13,400 for a Cossie versus $200 more for a ‘Vette.)" "Even with 99 horsepower at the rear wheel, the Cosworth Vega feels special–particularly compared to its contemporary “midsize” line that’s near enough to twice its size (and weight); an even-larger Impala of the era had a standard two-barrel 350 that started at 145 horsepower. Two million Vegas were built between 1971 and ’77, and if they’d started out with the power and build quality of this one, the Vega name would have been a legend rather than a punchline."
Vega vs Competitors Reviews
"We are going to whip Volkswagen"—John Z. DeLorean, general manager, Chevrolet Motor Division1970
Car Craft September 1970 "71's: The Subcompacts" said, "In the sales slug fest that is going to develop this year between Ford's Pinto and Chevrolet's Vega 2300, it appears at first glance that while Ford has a real contender in their Pinto, Chevrolet might be in better fighting trim for the title bout. With a proliferation of four different body styles as compared to the single Pinto configuration, the Vega already has the Pinto surrounded." "Where the Pinto will make an optional front disc brake package available some time after its fall introduction, disc front brakes are standard on the Vega from the start." "And while the Pinto could be described as an "unsanforized" Maverick, with obvious family styling ties, the purely functional styling of the Ford offering might again be at a disadvantage when matched with the really clean looks of the "micro-Camaro." "There's one other point where Chevy engineers really have scored some points with the performance enthusiast...the engine compartment of the Vega 2300 is large enough to accept a small-block Chevy. Picture it now, a home swapped LT-1 350-inch engine from a Z/28 nestled in a little 2500-pound Vega. Talk about the ultimate street machine. As for the Pinto, unfortunately its engine bay will accept nothing larger than the four cylinder engine it comes with." "As if the Vega doesn't look good already, it seems that they've got the edge on the Pinto when it comes to the depth of options a potential buyer can pick from. Both the Pinto and Vega have optional air conditioning, but in the overall picture it appears that the Vega has four models to the Pinto's one, that a Vega buyer can choose from four transmissions (three and four-speed manual as well as Torque-Drive and Powerglide automatics) to Ford's four-speed manual and three-speed automatic and that the standard Vega engine is 300cc's larger than the largest optional Ford four (which may not even be available at the beginning of the year)."
Sports Car Graphic September 1970, "Tri-testing the...Pinto, Vega & Gremlin" SCG said of the Vega, "Although it appears to be a Fiat with Chevrolet "product identification" modifications, its styling is actually scaled-down from the Chevrolet line so well that it doesn't look much smaller — it makes the passengers look bigger however." "The new die-cast aluminum Vega 2300 (engine) is a masterpiece of simplicity. There are many innovations made to reduce the number of pieces and improve repairability. One belt drives cam and water pump. The movable water pump is also the belt tensioner. The oil pump is on the crankshaft and is also the front engine cover. Valve lash adjustment is by a set screw in the tappet that dosen't even require a lock nut." So the Gremlin won the drags with more cubic inches and more horespower, but all three were in the neighborhood — it all depends on the options." "When it comes to handling, naturally the Vega with fat tires and ant-roll bars was on top, but such "speed equipment" is not even listed for the others. In maximum cornering force the Vega was right up there with muscular pony cars, and the Pinto maybe likewise with the same parts — but the Gremlin needs other help." "In the Vega the only major components that did not require completely new design and tooling were the transmission, and the air conditioning pump. From an engineering standpoint, it is as all-new as the Corvair was."
Motor Trend January 1971 in a Vega-Pinto-Beetle comparison said, "When driving the Vega, even the unglamorous sedan, you get the feeling your really in a Camaro or a Nova." "The Vega itself is a very quiet car. The only major noise source is the engine and transmission, and, depending on your bent, that smooth humming may be music to your ears." "The engine in the Vega is the strongest of the three: 140 cubic inches and 90 horsepower...its drag strip performance will blow the doors off both the Pinto and the VW." "The Vega approach to handling is at opposite poles to the Pinto's. The steering is slower and closer to neutral in cornering, with the car capable of sticking to the turn under higher "g" forces." "The Vega, while enjoyable to drive, is a more serious car. It's faster, more comfortable, quieter and better riding than either the Pinto or VW while still delivering respectable fuel economy. It carries a higher base price, but includes a lot more standard equipment than the others, some of which is part of the basic structure and isn't even available optionally on the lower-priced cars.
Car and Driver January 1971 awarded top pick to the Vega above the Ford Pinto, AMC Gremlin, VW Beetle, Toyota Corolla and Chrysler Simca. C&D said: "The Vega was the most expensive car in the test by almost $300 but the Vega's virtues are nicely in proportion to its price and it was the unanimous favorite." "The Vega pulls down the number one position because of its particular suitability to American driving conditions. It is one of two cars in the test (the other being the Gremlin) capable of relatively strainfree cruising at 70 mph or above." "In general the Vega is quick and nimble without the sports car harshness most American car drivers find objectionable." "The Vega's tall 2.53:1 axle ratio allowed a low 3,000 rpm at 80 mph." "It was the fastest of the cars tested, taking 12.2 seconds to reach 60 mph." "The Vega is an excellent combination of performance and economy." "It's a car for all occasions."
Road & Track 1971 in a "5 Economy Sedans" comparison put the Chevrolet Vega, Datsun 510, Ford Pinto, Toyota Corona & VW Super Beetle through their paces. R&T said of the Vega sedan, "Chevrolet's Vega is the heaviest, longest, lowest and most stylish of the group and has the largest engine at 2287 cc. It's slow-turning engine is not the most powerful however, being rated at 90 bhp." "...the Vega is notable for its good handling: it's as near neutral as as sedan can be and still be safe for the average driver..." "All five drivers thought it was the best looking of the group, a subjective triumph; on other things like interior trim-finish-appearance, body structure and gearbox it was considered worst of the group. But in matters of roadability–handling and braking–Vega rated best." "Though its performance is quite satisfactory, the Vega requires too much effort and creates too much fuss in achieving it." The Vega is Able and Roadable but relatively Crude."
Consumer Reports January 1971, "The Little Cars," compared the Ford Pinto, Chevrolet Vega, AMC Gremlin, VW Super Beetle, Toyota Corona and Datsun PL510 declaring three winners—Datsun, Vega and Toyota. CR said, "The Chevrolet Vega (and the Toyota Corona) follow close behind the Datsun in our ratings order. However the Vega has an entirely different personality. While the Datsun buzzed and boomed at parkway speeds, the Vega gobbled up the highway with less fuss. However in city driving—the Datsun's forte—the Vega seemed listless and flat." "Of all the cars in this test group, the Vega alone has side barriers built into the doors for crash protection." "The Vega's soft suspension isolated occupants from small bumps and road imperfections. But on rough roads the car leaped and bounced unpleasantly." "In our emergency handling tests at the track, the Vega generally held the road well. In hard right-hand turns, the engine stumbled momentarily. However the steering response felt quick and predictable. We judged the Vega's emergency handling good." In summary CU said, "The Vega and the Toyota were the quietest among a generally noisy group of cars. They also shared a comparatively smooth ride. The Vega performed well despite its economy gearing, and it handled reasonably well. It's brakes stopped the Vega straight and short every time." "The Ford Pinto and VW Super Beetle, in CU's judgement, are about equal in overall quality, but below the Vega and the Toyota."
Car and Driver May 1971 "The Eighth Annual Readers Choice Poll" — Best Economy Sedan: Chevrolet Vega — "Heading the list of major surprises in the Eighth Annual Car and Driver Readers Choice Poll was not only the fact that Chevrolet's Vega unseated seven-time winner Volkswagen, but that it wasn't even close. With four distinct models and a choice of either a 90 or 110-hp 4-cylinder engine the Vega is unique in the economy sedan field on offering something for just about everyone."
Chevrolet Vega 33.8%
VW Beetle/Super Beetle 16.7%
Datsun 510 7.6%
Fiat 124S 7.0%
Ford Pinto 6.4%
Consumer Reports June 1971, "Road Tests of Station Wagons" said, "CU tested three full size wagons.. a compact sized wagon.. and the subcompact Chevrolet Vega to see how practical small wagons might be." "Surprisingly, with its second seat folded down, the little Vega could swallow the bulky (2'x2'x4') box readily." "Our subcompact Vega had the standard four-cylinder engine, the two-speed automatic transmission and AM radio." "Like most imports, the Vega has a lift-up door rather than a drop-down tailgate. With the Vega's rear seat folded down, load space is relatively large for such a small wagon." "The Vega was noisy inside, mainly because of its raspy, booming exhaust," "Whether the Vega carried a light or a full (800-pound) load, the ride remained much the same—except that the rear suspension bottomed out more easily under the full load." "We judged both emergency and normal handling fair to good, mainly because of the car's good behavior on smooth roads. Directional stability was relatively unaffected by crosswinds; and we noted no tailwag during rapid lane-changing, even with a full load." "In summary CU said, "The Chevrolet Vega wagon though much smaller than the AMC Hornet Sportabout, had much more space inside for bulky cargo. But the automatic transmission was costly in terms of acceleration and fuel economy. CU recommends a 3 or 4-speed manual transmission. The Vega wagon's handling and braking were somewhat worse than our test sedan's, but they were still respectable. And the wagon's fully loaded ride was better."
Car and Driver November 1971 comparison with the Ford Pinto said, One Vega and one Pinto have survived 15,000 miles at the hands of the Car and Driver staff...And the test stretched over nine months...with no major mechanical failures—an indication of the soundness of their basic engineering." "The Vega was a hatchback coupe with crisp, uptown styling that makes it one of the most visually appealing small cars on the market." "Normally, the Vega averaged between 22 and 23 mpg the way most of the staff members drive." "The Vega hits its stride on the open highway. It has good directional stability and the front bucket seats are comfortable for most drivers. There were complaints of excessive heat radiating from the Vega's driveline tunnel—the effect being exaggerated by the softly-padded bucket seats which envelop you in non-breathing vinyl—but it was agreed that the Vega's far superior flow-through ventilation system was more than enough to offset it. (The Pinto's ventilation is flat inadequate unless you open the windows)." "However, one area of both cars' operation is very uncomfortable, and that is driveability...Chevrolet has been well aware of the Vega's driveability shortcomings so, for this reason and because the latest emission regulations are more difficult to meet, the 1972 models have been modified accordingly.To evaluate the improvement in driveability, we updated our Vega to the new-model specifications. It's an altogether different car. The old holes in the throttle response have successfully been filled. But there has been a noticeable power loss, partially due to the cam and partly attributable to the air pump, which engineers say costs 7 hp at the peak... But the car is so much easier to drive that the power loss is a fair trade." "If, in your travels, you spend more time on the open road and you agree with GM's sense of sheetmetal fashion, the Vega is a better choice."
Car and Driver December 1971 6-Car Comparison Test of 1972 Super Coupes rated the Vega GT's styling over Pinto Runabout, Opel 1900 Rallye, Mazda RX-2, Capri 2000, and Toyota Celica, saying: "Chevrolet brought to bear on the Vega GT all the cleverness that made it number one in the U.S. That division's smallest model has an optional engine, fat polyglas tires on wide styled wheels and a special handling package, all surrounded by the sleekest styling package this side of Turin. In fact, if picking the best Super coupe were purely a matter of styling, the Vega would win hands down without ever turning a wheel." "We've always thought of the Vega as a well engineered car, but many of its virtues are blocked by some equally impressive vises. For one thing its noisy—the noisiest car in the test—and most of it can be blamed on the long stroke Four which vibrates the hell out of the car." "As a driver, you sit low in the Vega. This particular car had the optional, cloth-covered full-foam bucket seats which are so inviting and compliant they would enhance the ambiance of any Madisn Avenue cocktail lounge." "Taken all together, the Vega is not as kind to its driver as it should be. Its ride quality is smooth enough on expressways but it gets very jouncy in the rough, and the cockpit environment suffers in comparison to its imported competitors." "It turns out the only advantage the Vega claims is handling. It was the quickest around the skidpad (0.75G) by a good margin and it is a very tolerant car at its limit. It is closest to neutral of all the Super Coupes..." "Because the Vega's exceptional handling can only make up for about half of its power deficiency, it finished fourth at Bridgehampton."1972
Car and Driver May 1972 "The Ninth Annual Readers' Choice Poll" — Best Economy Sedan: Chevrolet Vega — "The Vega, which is marketed in typical Detroit style (a variety of bodies and an ape's arm long-list of options) wins this category for the second year in a row against competition from Japan, Germany, Italy, and Ford's US/Anglo/German hybrid."
Chevrolet Vega 18.7%
Datsun 510 16.6%
VW Beetle/Super Beetle 11.8%
Fiat 128 8.8%
Ford Pinto 7.0%
Motor Trend in a 1972 comparison test "Back Door To Economy" chose the Vega GT best car over the Ford Pinto Runabout and Gremlin X saying, "Vega has a slight edge over Pinto both in response and horsepower (90 to 86) as well as noise." "The shifter mechanism has been improved for '72..." "The gear ratio is a bit closer than Pinto's eliminating the long step between first and second.""Vega takes a different approach to the suspension problem...Vega goes the coil route front and back. Front coils are assisted by a stabilizer bar, while the rears are mounted on a two-trailing arm, two-link system, also assisted by a stabilizer. This arrangement gives a much softer ride than the opposition, but it also permits a much greater amplitude of body roll during cornering and the Vega doesn't even have much wheel travel...the flat-running Pinto and Gremlin will maintain the attitude and then drift toward the outside of the turn, or even worse, skip across uneven road surfaces. Vega's rear end tends to come around at the limit, requiring less skill with careful power control to salvage a bad corner." "Vega's top of the line interior is more uptown than the other two because it shoots for a broader, more sophisticated market. The GT instrument panel has a full set of gauges, although a couple of them hide behind your hands. A very tastefully executed wood grain applique balances the picture." "Vega's seats are the best of the lot. Not only do they provide good lateral retention, but the support is firm while the seat is not. Even extended trips do not induce excessive driver fatigue and that is one reason why it was the Car of the Year in 1971." "Which car is best? Vega. In spite of Gremlin's marked improvement in quality control, Chevy has had it all along."
Motor Trend July 1972, "Mini Wagon War" compared the Ford Pinto Squire, Toyota Corona Mark II, Chevrolet Vega GT and Plymouth Cricket. MT said, "GM had cranked in a capacity for the wagon configuration when they designed the Vega.." "Vega, ours had the GT package, which is the way to go if your a driver who enjoys being behind the wheel, has a slightly softer suspension giving less roll control, but the ability to get around turns is only slightly less than that of the Pinto. In spite of the greater degree of suspension compliance, there is a trace of harshness in the Vega as well. This too is well within the range of acceptability and quite a bit below that exhibited by the GT coupe." "Vega wagon with the GT package has the best dash panel with full instrumentation,small diameter steering wheel. Firestone Wide Ovals provide excellent traction for GT suspension. Full length wheel hump deprives cargo compartment of some space." " Picking the winner was a tough task since each machine stands out in one specific area, but lags a bit in the others. Pinto slipped in front of the Toyota by virtue of superior handling, followed by the Vega and Cricket."1973
Car and Driver May 1973 "The Tenth Annual Readers' Choice Poll" — Best Economy Sedan: Chevrolet Vega — "The Vega continues its unbroken reign as champion in this catagory. Available in a wide variety of body styles—with an equally wide selection of engines and handling options—the Vega offers something for everybody in the Economy Car sector."
Chevrolet Vega 16.1%
Opel 1900 10.8%
VW Beetle/Super Beetle 10.8%
Ford Pinto 10.3%
Datsun 510 10.0%
Super Stock & Drag Illustrated July 1973, "Nine on the Line" said, "As it turned out then, we had two American cars, two German-made ones, and five made in Japan, for a total of nine test vehicles divided into two "classes" if you will. The Mazda RX-2, the Mercury Capri 2600 V6, and the Toyota Celica ST represented the higher sticker contingent, all with prices averaging $3200, while the rest of the field consisted of a Subaru GL coupe, a VW Super Beetle, a Datsun 610 hardtop, a Dodge Colt GT, a Ford Pinto coupe, and a Chevy Vega station wagon." "The most out-of-line car in the test was the Vega. We went looking for a GT hatchback through normal channels, but it couldn't be had, so we ended up with a 4-speed non-GT station wagon." "Our green wagon was fairly well built with a distinctive Chevrolet feeling about it. Inside the car was fairly quiet and the air conditioner and radio were top dollar equipment." "The 140-cubic-inch engine and the rest of the drivetrain were plenty bulletproof, and our biggest objection in this area was noise at high rpm in gears or in high speed cruising. On the drag strip, the big-engined Vega was only so-so, with a best performance of 18.13-74.80 mph. The bugaboo here was initial wheelspin, second gear wheel hop, and too much fore and aft body wobble immediately after the shift, which loaded and unloaded the tires. The GT suspension, and for that matter the entire GT package would give the car a lot of what it needed...it wouldn't go through the slalom without crushing a few pylons, and the car felt very heavy when trying to turn the wheel to go around a simple circle, though lateral acceleration was good." "High speed braking was another area the Vega needed help." "Vega's vaunted handling wasn't apparent in our test station wagon, probably because it was not equipped with the GT package."
Motor Trend August 1973 "15 Cars to own in a Gas Crisis" 10: Vega Wagon 27.083 mpg. MT has solved one problem for Chevrolet engineering. Want to beat the noise of that Vega engine? Order your Vega GT coupe with the "economy" 2.90 rearend ratio. Not only do you get better gas mileage, you also get more use of the 4-speed transmission, a lower cruising noise level, and more than sprightly acceleration. The '73 Vegas are damn good cars and with all of their other qualities, mileage is fine."1974
Motor Trend January 1974 "America's Economy Champs"—Colt, Pinto, Vega and Gremlin—"After driving the manual-transmission car (Vega) we can safely say the lively performance of this 3-speed model is at least equal to, if not better than, the other three models. Around town mileage was in the 25-27 mpg range and it got an amazing 33 mpg on our test loop, though we used all the tricks to get this figure..and never going over 60 mph on the freeway." "Vega handling is just like its always been—excellent—and the suspension changes necessitated by the heavier '74 bumpers seem to have done the job. Brake performance was good, but we noticed that the front discs gave an unhealthy squeal when really warm. Vega's interior room is good, though not as good as the Gremlin, and the 8.7-cubic-foot trunk is more than sufficient for an economy car. The seats in the base-priced Vega are adequate but don't provide much side support. The optional interior has much nicer buckets. The optional interior also includes vinyl door-trim panels to replace the injection-moulded plastic ones that give the base interior that "rent-a-car" look." "The American models are extremely well matched, so well that's its truly difficult to pick a winner."
Motor Trend March 1974, "A Pot Full of Economy: 50 Cars Worth Their Weight in Gold" 9. Chevrolet Vega LX 30.0 mpg—"Best mileage for an American car is the 30.0 figure turned in by our 1974 Vega two-door notchback sedan. Equipped with the 2287-cc single-barrel engine, a three-speed manual trans, 2.53 axle ratio, the LX trim package and radial tires, our Vega had a list price of $2700, making it a stiff competitor to the foreign economy cars, both in initial price and in mileage and performance." 17. Chevrolet Vega Wagon 27.0 mpg—"If you want the economy of a small car but need the room of a bigger car, here's the answer. Our '73 Vega wagon had the 2287-cc in-line four-cylinder engine and four-speed transmission and despite the added weight of the wagon body styles, it still managed a thrifty 27.0 mpg around our 73-mile test loop. It's proof that wagons can be economical too!" 38. Chevrolet Vega 20.6 mpg—"The hatchback version of the Vega had the 2287-cc engine coupled to an automatic transmission and a lower rear-axle ratio. Though the mileage is still respectable, a comparison with the Vega in 9th place shows the difference an automatic and lower axle ratio can make on a small car."
Car and Driver May 1974 in a comparison of Super Coupes: Mazda RX-2, Opel Manta Rallye, Toyota Celica GT, Capri 2800, Vega GT, and Mustang II Mach 1, C&D said of the Vega GT, "What we have here is a car that will cut and run with the best of them. It is a natural on a road course, sure footed and fleet, with a sense of balance that you rarely find in a sedan." "We particularly like the solid feel of the shifter." "The test car was also optioned out with variable ratio power steering which offers a very quick 3.0 turns lock to lock and quite an accurate feel." "The high braking effort stands in rather stark contrast to that of the other controls and plushy softness of the Vega's optional custom interior." "The carpets, the door panels and the seat coverings are high quality, particularly in light of the Vega's low overall price." "It takes far more than than low price and the Vega's multitude of other virtues to redeem the engine. The Cosworth Vega is the only possible solution, but unfortunately production of that model will be too limited to fill the demand for an honest-to-God American-made Super Coupe."
Road & Track June 1974, "Sports Cars vs Sports Sedans" included the Triumph Spitfire vs the Chevrolet Vega. R&T said, "...we selected the Vega Notchback because of its superior handling and asked Chevrolet to supply the sportiest thing they could build for $3,100, a price chosen to match the expected 1974 Spitfire's." "...this was the Vega at is best with its optional handling package and wide radial tires, will just match the Spitfire with radials in steady-state cornering power." "...without them (radials), the Spitfire can't hold a candle to the Vega in handling." "The Vega came to $3055 at the factory and it would be difficult to imagine a better all-around sports sedan at that price in today's market." "That aluminum 4-cylinder Vega engine is still noisy—actually noisier than the Spitfire's!—but it sounds a lot better at high revs than early ones did." "Despite this year's heavier bumpers—our car weighed an alarming 2560 lb—the test car was the quickest Vega we have ever tested and it handily out-accelerates the Spitfire.The extra weight is getting to the Vega's brakes, though. They take fully 55 lb for a 1/2g stop—that's heavy—and now fade somewhat more than with last year's test Vega." "Nor is the Vega's ride very refined, but its handling on a smooth dry road definitely is. Getting out of the Spitfire and into the Vega...we knew we could go a lot faster with complete confidence. And naturally, in a lot more comfort." "And what's the conclusion here? If you want wind around your head, get the Spitfire; if you want the better machine, get the Vega."1975
Motor Trend October 1975 driving impressions of the Capri II and the Chevrolet Cosworth Vega said, "The Cosworth Vega goes like the proverbial bat out of Carlsburg Caverns. The 0-60 time is in the region of 9 seconds, compared with 14.5 seconds for the regular Vega GT with an engine that is bigger than the Cosworth's. As quick as the lil' black Vega is in a straight line, it would be a big mistake to use one as a straight-line machine. The car's forte is a nice, winding road. The sort of place you don't see jacked-up Road Runners with drag slicks. This is where the Cosworth really shines. At moderate speeds, the car is as close to neutral handling as any American car I have ever driven." "The steering is heavy at low speeds, and there is no power assist to compensate for this..." "The choice between the two is simple: if you want air conditioning, power steering, sunroof, while performance is a secondary consideration, then the Capri is the car for you...(if) you just want a car that'll go then the Cosworth is the only choice. It's merely a matter of priorities."1976
Autoweek in a 1991 "old car issue" said, "Twenty years ago 'import fighters' Pinto and Vega put America on the subcompact battlefield—and wound up challenging each other." "Vega and Pinto sparked inevitable comparisons, and the press tended to be more impressed with the sportier Vega." "Collected and prized today primarily in its Cosworth dress and as V6 and V8 conversions, Vega still retains a group of loyal followers."
Motor Trend Classic in the Fall 2010 issue's "Loving Look Back" comparison — 1973 Vega GT, 1972 Pinto Runabout and 1971 Gremlin X, Frank Markus, Technical Director of Motor Trend said of the original 6k-miles 1973 Vega GT, "After a few gentle miles, I begin to understand how this car won its awards and comparison tests." He closes the article agreeing with MT's initial assessment of the Vega and how it fared compared to its domestic competition; he wrote, "Chevrolet spun the Vega as a more American, upscale car. And let's face it, the car looked hot. So can you blame us for falling hook, line, and sinker for the Vega and naming it 1971's Car of the Year?" "Well-maintained examples are great looking, nice-driving, economical classics—like Baltic Ave. with a Hotel, the best ones can be had for $10K or less." "Emotionally, Jim Brokaw summed it up in January 1972: Gremlin has power, but Pinto has the price, and a much quieter ride. Which car is best? Vega."
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