Rare Rides: This 1975 Chevrolet Is Both Vega and Cosworth

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides this 1975 chevrolet is both vega and cosworth

An enterprising GM executive, a British tuning company, and a compact hatchback came together in 1975 to make a very special, limited-production Chevrolet.

It’s the Cosworth Vega, naturally.

This Vega is the third instance of an H-body vehicle in the Rare Rides series; the only time we’ve featured a single platform thricely.

Chevrolet’s Vega was the first vehicle on General Motors’ H-body. Hitting dealer lots back in 1971, the Vega was available in two-door sedan, hatchback, wagon, and sedan delivery variants. As it stood on dealer lots, the Vega was very much a middle market car, with middle market performance. None of this was very interesting to GM vice president John DeLorean, so he sent an engineer over to England to scout around for a way to add some sportiness to the Vega. The engineer in question ended up visiting with Cosworth, who designed a twin-cam cylinder head that worked with the existing Vega engine.

Throughout its run, two different variations of inline-four engines powered standard Vega models — both of them 2.3-liters in displacement. This engine was reworked considerably for Cosworth Vega duty, shrinking down to 2.0 liters, and paired with the aforementioned Cosworth cylinder head. But the project was a low priority among GM management, and DeLorean had an uphill battle to get corporate approval. With the engine ready in early 1971, DeLorean brought the project to GM’s president, Edward Cole.

DeLorean pitched the idea by preparing three performance Vegas for Mr. Cole to sample. One was a base model, the second had a small-block V8 under hood, and the third was the Cosworth. Cole was duly impressed by the tuned four cylinder, and offered his approval. Cosworth was go.

Chevy prepared a number of test cars to comply with EPA testing standards. More than one rework of the engine was required, as well as further test car examples to prepare for revised EPA regulations starting in 1975. The ’75 regulations required a revised electronic ignition, the addition of a catalytic converter, and a rework of the fuel injection system.

As 1975 rolled around, the Cosworth passed all tests and began production with its 140-horsepower engine. Assembled at the Lordstown, Ohio plant which would later make Cruzes, all 1975 models shared the same black and gold theme. 1976 saw a cosmetic update and the addition of several different paint color options. Though the car magazines were all impressed, the asking price for a Cosworth Vega was just $900 less than a Corvette in the same showroom. Ouch. All told, Chevy made just 3,508 Cosworth Vegas.

Located in Kansas City, today’s example comes complete with a sale ad featuring eleven pages of all-caps text. The miles are 2,948 and the asking price is $20,000.

[Images: seller]

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  • Relton Relton on Aug 20, 2018

    All Vegas had the aluminum engine, no iron sleeves. Reliability was improved by enlarging the radiator to minimize overheating. Pontiac & Olds versions, and Monzas after 77, had iron Pontiac engines, "Iron Duke", related to the 4 cylinder engine used in Chevy IIs.

    • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Aug 21, 2018

      They also added the coolant recovery tank and low coolant warning light for '75 (my '75 had that).

  • Road_pizza Road_pizza on Sep 19, 2018

    My father bought a '74 Vega GT, and I got my license in the spring of '79. That damn Vega didn't last long enough for me to drive the thing, our wonderful Cleveland winters ate that turd up in less than 5 years.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Drove a rental Cherokee for several days at the beginning of this year. Since the inventory of rental cars is still low, this was a 2020 model with 48k miles and V6. Ran fine, no gremlins, graphics display was easy to work, plenty of power, & very comfortable. Someone must of disarmed the lane assistance feature for the steering wheel never shook (YES!!!!!!!!). However, this woman's voice kept nagging me about the speed limit (what's new!?!?!?!).I was impressed enough to consider this a prime candidate to replace my 11 yr old Ford Escape. Might get a good deal with the close out of the model. Time will tell. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Bullnuke One wonders if this poor woman entered the US through Roxham Road...
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  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.