The Truth About Cars » vega http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 04:02:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » vega http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find, Part II: 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-part-ii-1975-chevrolet-cosworth-vega/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-part-ii-1975-chevrolet-cosworth-vega/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2012 18:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=430926 After seeing today’s Junkyard Find ’75 Vega, the members of the Vega Jihad are doubtless pounding out 10,000-word screeds about The Greatest Car Ever Made (never underestimate the suspension of disbelief required to be a member of the Vega Jihad), and I’m sure that the Cosworth Vega will be mentioned numerous times during said screeds. […]

The post Junkyard Find, Part II: 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
After seeing today’s Junkyard Find ’75 Vega, the members of the Vega Jihad are doubtless pounding out 10,000-word screeds about The Greatest Car Ever Made (never underestimate the suspension of disbelief required to be a member of the Vega Jihad), and I’m sure that the Cosworth Vega will be mentioned numerous times during said screeds. That’s why it’s fortunate that I have a bonus Junkyard Find today, a genuine, one-of-3,508-made junked Cosworth Vega, which TTAC reader and historically accurate 80s minitruck road racer Jesse Cortez found and photographed at a Northern California wrecking yard.
This Cosworth Vega’s engine was spun a little too enthusiastically, which sent a rod through the side of the block.
However, it comes with a couple of spare blocks and heads. Maybe they’re good!
With its Cosworth-designed cylinder head and fuel injection, the 2,400-pound Cosworth Vega had 110 horsepower under the hood. Compare that to the 75 horses of the base Vega.
I haven’t seen a Cosworth Vega in person since the mid-1980s; most got used up and discarded.

26 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 01 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 02 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 03 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 04 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 05 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 06 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 07 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 08 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 09 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 10 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 11 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 12 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 13 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 14 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 15 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 16 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 17 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 18 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 19 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 20 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 21 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 22 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 23 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 24 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez 25 - 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega - Pictures courtesy of Jesse Cortez Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

The post Junkyard Find, Part II: 1975 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-part-ii-1975-chevrolet-cosworth-vega/feed/ 67
Junkyard Find: 1975 Chevrolet Vega http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-1975-chevrolet-vega/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-1975-chevrolet-vega/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2012 17:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=430907 The first-gen Hyundai Excel is extremely rare junkyard find, with most Excels having been crushed before they hit ten years old. The story of the Chevy Vega is similar, though most Vegas survived a bit longer than Excels did. I hadn’t seen a Vega in a junkyard for at least a decade (not counting Pontiac-badged […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1975 Chevrolet Vega appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

The first-gen Hyundai Excel is extremely rare junkyard find, with most Excels having been crushed before they hit ten years old. The story of the Chevy Vega is similar, though most Vegas survived a bit longer than Excels did. I hadn’t seen a Vega in a junkyard for at least a decade (not counting Pontiac-badged Vega wagons) when I found this reasonably solid example at a California self-service yard a couple weeks back.
The Vega had the potential to be a good car, capable of fending off the onrushing Japanese invasion, but GM staggered through a series of bureaucratic and engineering blunders and what ended up in Chevrolet showrooms was quite disappointing.

500 pounds heavier than the original design, plagued by corrosion problems, and with a troublesome iron-head/aluminum-block engine, the Vega was also a good-looking car that got decent fuel economy. It sold in large numbers… and turned countless GM loyalists into Toyota buyers during the course of the 1970s.

Like the Corvair before it and the Fiero after it, the Vega was a great idea executed poorly. Perhaps The General would have been better off going all-out with an Americanized Opel Kadett for its Chevy subcompact.

13 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 01 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 02 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 03 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 04 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 05 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 06 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 07 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 08 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 09 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 10 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 11 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden 12 - 1975 Chevrolet Vega Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'The Crusher' Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

The post Junkyard Find: 1975 Chevrolet Vega appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/junkyard-find-1975-chevrolet-vega/feed/ 35
Junkyard Find: 1979 Pontiac Sunbird Safari Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/junkyard-find-1979-pontiac-sunbird-safari-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/junkyard-find-1979-pontiac-sunbird-safari-station-wagon/#comments Mon, 16 Jan 2012 14:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=426461 Until I spotted this 1979 Chevy Monza wagon in The Crusher’s waiting room last year, I had forgotten that GM slapped Monza and Sunbird badges on the (Monza ancestor) Chevy Vega wagon at the tail end of the 1970s. Then, last week, I discovered this Sunbird Safari at another Denver self-service yard. Such history to […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1979 Pontiac Sunbird Safari Station Wagon appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011Until I spotted this 1979 Chevy Monza wagon in The Crusher’s waiting room last year, I had forgotten that GM slapped Monza and Sunbird badges on the (Monza ancestor) Chevy Vega wagon at the tail end of the 1970s. Then, last week, I discovered this Sunbird Safari at another Denver self-service yard. Such history to be uncovered in the junkyards of Denver!
Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011To make the branding even more confusing, GM stuck the snout of the discontinued crypto-Canadian Astre on the 1978-79 Sunbird wagons.
Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011Things were looking pretty grim for The General in 1979; you know you’re in trouble when your Pinto fighter’s strongest punch is the fake woodgrain decals on the lighter and radio knobs.
Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011However, this car did have one good thing going for it: an even-fire Buick V6 under the hood. 105 horsepower wasn’t much, but the Sunbird wagon only weighed about 2,600 pounds.
Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011Original owner? I’m going to say yes.
Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011Worth rescuing? No… but I hope there’s still at least one low-mile Monza or Sunbird wagon hiding in a barn somewhere in the year 2029.

Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Photograph by Phillip Greden, 2011 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

The post Junkyard Find: 1979 Pontiac Sunbird Safari Station Wagon appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/junkyard-find-1979-pontiac-sunbird-safari-station-wagon/feed/ 23
Junkyard Find: 1979 Chevrolet Monza Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/junkyard-find-1979-chevrolet-monza-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/junkyard-find-1979-chevrolet-monza-wagon/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2011 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=399914 When I first glimpsed this Malaise Era compact wagon in my local wrecking yard, I thought “Wow, I haven’t seen a Vega in a junkyard for years!” Then I saw the grille and realized that I was looking at an example of the very rare Monza wagon, which was a Monza snout grafted onto the […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1979 Chevrolet Monza Wagon appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

When I first glimpsed this Malaise Era compact wagon in my local wrecking yard, I thought “Wow, I haven’t seen a Vega in a junkyard for years!” Then I saw the grille and realized that I was looking at an example of the very rare Monza wagon, which was a Monza snout grafted onto the discontinued-after-1977 Vega wagon. At the risk of enraging the small but very devoted Vega Jihad, I’m going to pronounce this thing The Most Terrible Station Wagon Detroit Ever Made.

This one has the 3.2 liter version of the venerable Buick V6 engine, which made a pretty-good-for-1979 105 horsepower. You could also get a ’79 Monza with a 130-horse, 305-cubic-inch V8, and one can only hope that a few of these were made with the V8 and the four-speed manual transmission.

The automatic transmission siphoned off much of that V6 power, unfortunately.

The Monza wagon listed at $3974, only 60 bucks more than the ’79 Chevette four-door. The Pinto Pony wagon could be had for $3,633. Meanwhile, the ’79 Honda Civic wagon was priced at $4,759.

I’m trying to dredge up some sadness that this car, which somehow managed to stay on the street for 32 years, is going to be eaten by The Crusher… but I just can’t do it. Next stop, Chinese steel factory!

DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-21 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-01 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-02 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-03 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-04 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-05 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-06 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-07 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-08 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-09 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-10 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-11 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-12 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-13 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-14 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-15 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-16 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-17 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-18 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-19 DOTJ-79MonzaWagon-20 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

The post Junkyard Find: 1979 Chevrolet Monza Wagon appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/junkyard-find-1979-chevrolet-monza-wagon/feed/ 49
Curbside Classic: 1980 Chevrolet Citation – GM’s Deadliest Sin Ever http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/curbside-classic-1980-chevrolet-citation-gms-deadliest-sin-ever/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/curbside-classic-1980-chevrolet-citation-gms-deadliest-sin-ever/#comments Tue, 21 Dec 2010 18:01:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=378038 The greatest crime in ancient Greece was hubris. And the perpetrator that carried out the sins as a result of their hubris inevitably faced great shame and retribution, most often fatal. So for the sake of this CC, we’re going to drop the Citation’s X-Car moniker, and call them the H-Cars. And just in case […]

The post Curbside Classic: 1980 Chevrolet Citation – GM’s Deadliest Sin Ever appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

The greatest crime in ancient Greece was hubris. And the perpetrator that carried out the sins as a result of their hubris inevitably faced great shame and retribution, most often fatal. So for the sake of this CC, we’re going to drop the Citation’s X-Car moniker, and call them the H-Cars. And just in case you’re not convinced that the Citation truly was GM’s greatest sin rather than the Vega (coincidentally numbered GM’s DS #2), let me cite you the incontrovertible evidence:

Of course numbers don’t tell the whole story, but I challenge you to find another newly introduced car that did so well in its first year and whose sales collapsed so spectacularly thereafter. And that 811k in 1980 doesn’t tell the whole story: the Citation was so popular, supply couldn’t keep up with demand. Folks waited months for their deadly sins to be delivered, and Chevy might well have been able to sell a million in 1980 if they could have made them fast enough. But they were so poorly built, the drop-off was almost instantaneous. By its fourth year, the Citation had dropped some 90%. And in 1985, it was all over.

Having jumped ahead to the final outcome of GM’s hubris-mobile, let’s step back a bit and consider the setting for this tragedy. For the third time at the beginning of a new decade, GM was determined to take on the import competition. In 1960, it was the VW Beetle, and GM countered with the conceptionally similar (rear engine) but bigger Corvair. It failed at its intended mission for a number of reasons, but there were no egregious issues with its quality or durability (for the standards of the time). But GM cut corners, and had make a series of improvements to its suspension to save face, including a substantially redesigned second generation, even though the Corvair was by then already doomed.

In 1970, it was Toyota and Datsun, as well as a few fading European imports that GM countered with the Vega. Despite them all being highly conventional rwd cars, Chevrolet bungled the Vega’s engine and rust-resistance. And although build quality was certainly not up to the Japanese competition’s level, it was not atrocious, in terms of what was yet to come.

For 1980, GM had the revolutionary Honda Accord in its visor, as well as the goal of redefining the compact American car in an all-new fwd package. The Citation and its H-Body brethren from Pontiac, Olds and Buick (we’ll get to them in more detail in another CC) were the closing number of GM’s overly-ambitious downsizing drama in three acts, which had begun three years earlier.

Make no mistake: this mammoth undertaking that would result in the 1977 Caprice and the rest of the full-sized line up, the 1978 Malibu and the other midsized cars, and the 1980 Citation and friends was no less than the biggest single corporate industrial re-investment ever up to that time. GM was betting its whole future here, and we all know how it turned out: the eighties were GM’s worst decade ever in terms of market share loss, and the Citation not only kicked it off, it also set the template for almost all of its sins from then on.

GM’s biggest act of hubris was in even thinking it could execute such an undertaking, given its history. And clearly, the results got worse with each act. The fact that the Citation would be GM’s first ever-front wheel drive mass-market car didn’t help. As well as GM’s perpetual obsession with the next quarter’s profit. The mega-billions GM committed to its downsizing was taking its toll on the bottom line, and the Citation was behind schedule. Switching production facilities and suppliers over to a completely new generation of cars was taking its toll.

Typical for GM, the Citation looked best on paper, or to the automotive writers who were suckered when they drive the most un-production-like “ringers” ever hand assembled and wrote breathless reports on the Citation’s spectacular “better than a BMW” abilities.  The current issue of C/D has a brief mea-culpa by Patrick Bedard about how they fell for GM’s bait.

The Citation’s basic body package was highly modern for the times, with a very roomy interior, a practical hatchback (a notch-back coupe was available but never popular), lightweight (2500 lbs), and featuring a new transverse engine/transaxle arrangement. Unfortunately, GM’s greatest industrial re-investment didn’t include a new four cylinder engine. The noisy, crude and rude “Iron Duke” 2.5 L OHV four was adapted for its new east-west orientation, and shook 90 hp from its crankshaft.

But GM was a bit more ambitious with the optional engine: the immortal 60-degree V6, still being built in China, and only just recently departed from the US GM line-up. In its first incarnation here, it had 2.8 L and 115 hp (110 beginning in 1981). And in 1981, the sporty X-11 Citation was graced with a bumped-up HO version, which churned out 135 hp. Just the ticket to fully display the Citation’s truly prodigious torque steer and other entertaining characteristics, some of them quite genuine, especially in later model years.

Since quietness was always disproportionately high on the list of criteria for GM cars, and because neither of the Citation’s engines were intrinsically quiet and smooth, extreme measures were taken to isolate them from the passenger compartment. The front subframe that carried the drive train and front suspension was attached to the body with very soft rubber mounts. This led to a remarkable sensation during acceleration.

It felt as if your favorite H-mobile was composed of two separate components (which it sort of was), or to take the analogy further, it felt like the body was a semi-trailer hooked to the back of a semi-truck. Floor it, and the truck started heading one direction (left, if I remember correctly) while the trailer both followed as well as tried to keep the truck from running off the roadway. Amusing, sort of. I had the chance to do it several times a day, in my Skylark company car. And I got quite good at it: kind of like crabbing an airplane. I did used to wonder if one day my car’s front sub frame would just fully detach and head off into to the median by itself; it sure seemed to want to very badly.

One might eventually get used to that, and if you had a good running V6, these cars could feel pretty lively given their light weight. But what goes fast must slow down, eventually, especially in LA traffic. And that’s where the fun disappeared, in a cloud of burning rubber. GM made almost the same penny-ante mistake with Citation as with the Corvair. Then, they left off a $14 camber-compensating spring. Now it was a $14 (?) rear brake proportioning valve. Drivers complained, NHTSA sued GM, which GM ended up winning in 1987, way too late: the perception/sales battle was then long lost. My Skylark with wider tires and wheels wasn’t too bad that way, but I once drove a four cylinder Citation that was highly prone. Let’s just say that my old Peugeot 404 had a very effective ride-height sensing rear proportioning valve even though it was rwd, and the Citation didn’t, with 60% of its weight on the front.

That was just for starters (and stoppers). In between, a seemingly endless rash of maladies made these cars recall kings and queens. Transmission hoses that leaked and cause fires. Various driveability issues: fuel injection was deemed too expensive; meanwhile the two-barrel carb on the V6 was the most complicated and expensive fuel mixing device Rube Goldberg was ever commissioned to design. (A replacement cost  over $1000 in today’s money, as I well know).  Shifting the manual transmission was like sending messages to a distant cohort in secret code via carrier pigeon.

The Citation interiors were hard and cheap. Sundry pieces of trim were prone to suddenly disassociating themselves from the rest of the car, in shame perhaps. Starting on day one. General build quality varied greatly, somewhere between miserable and mediocre. Cost cutting resulted in skin cutting from rough edges. Within one model year, the word was out and the jig was up: the Citation was a lemon.

In a truly cynical move, GM found the pennies to add a “II” suffix to the Citation in 1984, even though anyone would be hard pressed to see any difference. Enough fools fell for the Citation II to bump sales by 5k units that year, before they realized that it was just a Citation Too.

What really must have burned GM with the Citation’s flame out was that Toyota was dealing with the exact same challenge: to convert its rwd Carina/Corona lines to fwd. The all-new Camry appeared in 1983, just as the Citation was crashing. Ironically, the Camry had a distinctly Citation-ish look to it too, especially the hatchback. But looks can be deceiving. First year Camrys are considered as utterly solid and fool-proof as this year’s, if not more so. I can think of no better example of the contrasting state of affairs that predicted their makers’ respective trajectories in 1983 than these two similar and yet so different cars. GM’s Death Warrant Exhibit A.

Perhaps we should just leave it there, but there is a relevant postscript to the Citation: it became essentially immortal, in new garb. The Chevy Celebrity and its A-Body kin were nothing more than a Citation inner body and platform with a new exterior suit. The magic of a restyle and a little attention to working out the most blatant kinks resulted in a long-lived career (through 1996), at least for the Olds and Buick versions. And eventually they got fairly reliable…just too late.

But the A-Bodies are just the most obvious genetic offshoot. Let’s face it; just about every fwd GM car built since the first Citation torque-steered its way off the assembly line has X-chromosomes in it, to one degree or another. The Citation was GM’s starting point with the fwd car, as well as the true beginning of its end.

More New Curbside Classics Here

The post Curbside Classic: 1980 Chevrolet Citation – GM’s Deadliest Sin Ever appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/curbside-classic-1980-chevrolet-citation-gms-deadliest-sin-ever/feed/ 203