Chevrolet conducted an advertised ''60,000 miles in 60 days Durability Run'' of the 1976 Vega and its Dura-built 140 engine. Three new Vega hatchback coupes equipped with manual transmissions and air conditioning were driven non-stop for 60,000 miles in 60 days through the deserts of California and Nevada (Death Valley) using three pre-production models of the subcompact and nine non-professional drivers. All three 1976 Vegas completed a total of 180,000 miles with only one "reliability" incident - a broken timing belt was recorded. This fact prompted Vega project engineer Bernie Ernest to say, "The Vega has reliability in excess of 60,000 miles, and therefore the corporation feels very comfortable with the warranty.
Chevrolet chose the 349-mile Southwestern desert route in order to show the car's severely criticized engine and cooling system had been improved with the 1976 model. During the 60-day test which was certified and supervised by the United States Auto Club, the three cars were subjected to ambient temperatures never lower than 99 degrees and often reaching as high as 122 degrees. The nine drivers were instructed to treat the cars as they would their own and use the air conditioning as desired. Yet, 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. Translated into actual driving expenses, the three Vegas averaged a per-mile cost of 2.17 cents.
Al Olson, (Chevrolet) assistant general sales manager, said in Motor Trend Feb. '76, "The Vega's "Dura-built" engine and chassis contain more than 300 new part numbers, making the car the most improved Chevrolet model of 1976."
The 1976 Vega was marketed as a durable and reliable car. Despite Chevy's efforts to restore the Vega's image, the car and it's aluminum engine were cancelled at the end of the 1977 model year.
Chevrolet Vega Reviews - Chevy Vega Wiki
Image: 1976 Chevy Vegas on the 60 Day/60,000 mile Durability Run
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