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Motor Trend-November 1970: "Motor Trend's 1971 Car of the Year - The importance of being relevant," said, "The 1971 model year promises to be a year of transition. It marks the advent of volume American small cars and the demise of raw performance." "Of the broad brush strokes—engineering, styling, and market timing—in 1971, market timing will assume importance beyond any previous time with the exception of 1960 when the market did a temporary half-step in a new direction."

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."

Car of the Year
Motor Trend February 1971: "1971 Car of the Year Chevrolet Vega 2300 - Built for the age of reason," MT said, "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 hard to find that in the last ten years.

In Retrospect
Motor Trend Classic Fall 2010 "A Loving Look Back" said, "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?" "After a few gentle miles, I begin to understand how this car won its awards and comparison tests. 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."

Motor Trend November 2012 "Car of the Year 1949-Present - The Chronicle of Caliper Recipients" said, "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."

Motor Trend January 2016, "Tracking The Award"— Times Change So Does Motor Trend — "Winners like the Vega often say more about the times (rising fuel and insurance costs) than the technology."
1971: "The now-iconic Golden Caliper trophy was first awarded to the compact Chevrolet Vega 2300. Rising gasoline and insurance costs and increased tax and unemployment rates meant that “zeroing in on the mini-cars was inevitable at this time in America.” The editors decided that a model’s market significance should play as big a role in deciding the award as engineering or performance once did."

Image: 1971 Chevrolet Vega Coupe - Motor Trend February 1971