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Cars > vegavairbob’s Garage > Blog > The Chevy Vega - A Different Perspective


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M –58


The Chevy Vega - A Different Perspective

By vegavairbob

GM's first U.S. mini-car cost $200 million to design and bring to production. In today's money that's over a billion dollars - it wasn't by chance the Vega out-handled more expensive european sport sedans.
AMC in contrast, spent all of 5 million to convert an existing Hornet compact into the Gremlin, selling it for about the same price as the Vega which was new from the ground up, sharing nothing with existing vehicles.

Introduced September 1970 starting at $2090. no other car company in the world was able to invest hundreds of millions of dollars on a vehicle to sell in that price range, and GM made little or no profit on the Vega which was usually ordered with few options (GM's profits came from expensive options).
But in a rush to bring the car to market, numerous piecemeal "fixes" were performed by dealers and Chevrolet's "bright star", received an enduring black eye despite a continuing development program which eventually alleviated most of these initial shortcomings.

Motor Trend selected the Vega one of the 10-Best cars of 1971 and awarded the Vega 1971 Car of the Year.
Car and Driver readers voted the Vega "Best Economy Sedan" for 1971, 1972, and 1973 in C&D's Readers Choice Polls.
By 1974, the Vega was among the top 10 best-selling American cars. By 1976, the car had received five years of improvements (300 new part numbers in '76 alone) but the smaller, lower priced Chevette was introduced the same year, and the handwriting was on the wall.
The liner-less aluminum/silicon engine technology that GM and Reynolds Metals developed turned out to be sound. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche use sleeveless aluminum engines today, the basic principles of which were developed for the Vega engine.

Motor Trend said in 1971, "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."

Motor Trend Classic said in 2010, "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.."

Motor Trend Classic said in 2013, "Overblown - The China Syndrome might have overhyped the TMI (Three-Mile Island) incident as bad press might have exaggerated the Vega's woes."

see also:
Chevrolet Vega - Chevy Vega Wiki

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Read comments on this blog post 1 – 5 of 5

RancheroBoy’s Profile Photo
Jan 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm
Great article and info
Justa6’s Profile Photo
Nov 6, 2011 at 5:58 pm
Great articles. Fun reading.
CorvairJim’s Profile Photo
Nov 3, 2011 at 1:09 am
I didn't realize that GM had that much invested in the car, but considering all the new technology they brought to bear in the one car, I guess it isn't too surprising. I'm sure Ford didn't invest half as much in their new-for-1971 "Barbecue", er, "Pinto"!
GoldenGirl’s Profile Photo
Nov 2, 2011 at 8:37 pm
Yes, a nice looking car. My boyfriend (now hubby) had a red '73 4 speed that his mom bought him when she traded in his '71 Charger R/T after he lost his license for drag racing. He taught me how to drive a manual so I could chauffeur him to the usual hang outs until he got his license back. Threw a rod through the block in less than one year. The guys at the parts store got to know me by name since I was up there constantly picking up parts for the repair.

That said, these many years later we still love looking at photos of that old Vega in the family photo album.

Thanks for the link to the great article!
canadianpontiacguy’s Profile Photo
Oct 31, 2011 at 7:33 am
Good article Bob!
Thanks for sharing.

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Cars > vegavairbob’s Garage > Blog > The Chevy Vega - A Different Perspective

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