Junkyard Find: 1975 Chevrolet Vega

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1975 chevrolet vega

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.

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  • 84Cressida 84Cressida on Feb 17, 2012

    If you asked Akio Toyoda what his favorite car is, he'd say the Chevrolet Vega.

  • TKat TKat on Mar 07, 2013

    I was being nostalgic and looking up cars I drove as a teenager. Imagine my surprise when I found this site and my first three cars were all being discussed (badly at that). Now I feel like I had a bad start in life. My first car at 16 was a vega. It was a hand me down from my step dad. I thought I was big time. Soon after I got it, the reverse went out. Everywhere I went I could only go forward or we'd push it back. I still proudly drove it until my little brother got hold of a black marker and drew giant smiley faces all over it. the car was white. Next my Mama got me a Monza. I loved this car and it would fly. I got married at 19 and my first car then was a Sunbird,which I also loved, until my husband totaled it exactly 1 month after I got it. From what I am reading , he did me a favor.

  • 2ACL If I'm going to battle 30-year-old BMW problems, then the car had better be representative of their greatest hits. I hear the M42 is a decent motor, but it just doesn't personify BMW excellence of the period. Also did some digging in the seller's other posts to try and determine the transmission type. . . https://www.bimmerfest.com/threads/m42b18-1994-318is-misfire-hopefully-remedied.1443915/page-2#post-13810336"Test drive was magnificent, for an automatic, it eventually gets up to speed." Free-revving four + four-speed slushbox = definite pass.
  • SCE to AUX This is good news, as long as the Tesla plug can deliver the kind of power needed in the future. I'm not sure that's a settled matter.
  • SCE to AUX Hyundai/Kia/Genesis, if we're talking mfrs of consequence in the EV space.But to their credit, they've tried to remain distinct from the Tesla approach to everything. They've been quick to respond to the Biden IRA domestic content stuff for EVs (by building more US plants), so maybe they'll jump on this NACS bandwagon.
  • FreedMike I guess it's good to hear they finally made the third row livable - the one on the old RX was a joke - but, man, is this generic-looking.
  • Alan I read the front wheels are driven by the engine and the rear wheels by electric in the hybrid. I also find it odd it isn't offered as the 2.4 hybrid with 250kw on tap.