1975 Chevrolet Vega Junkyard Find Hides A Cool And Rare Surprise Under The Hood


Introduced in 1970 as a replacement for the Corvair, the Vega was Chevrolet’s subcompact competitor for the Ford Pinto and AMC Gremlin until 1977. It was GM’s first vehicle on the H platform, which also underpinned the Chevy Monza, as well as the Pontiac Skyhawk, Oldsmobile Starfire, and Pontiac Sunbird beginning in the mid-1970s.

The Vega sold a staggering two million vehicles over seven model years, making it highly popular during a time when large, powerful automobiles were becoming less and less common. But a number of problems, including its drab appearance and performance, kept it from becoming a sought-after classic. Thus, it should come as no surprise that junkyards are brimming with abandoned Vegas. However, the black coupe that’s in front of you doesn’t deserve to decay into a boring Malaise-era car. That’s because this isn’t your typical Vega. With a Cosworth engine, this Chevy is one of a unique, limited-edition run that was produced.

Yup, I’m talking about the company that built some of the greatest race-spec mills out there and prepped a long list of cool cars, including the Ford Sierra and Escort, the Opel Vectra, and the Mercedes-Benz 190E. Not to mention that it also built the iconic DFV V8 engine that won seven consecutive Formula One championships from 1968 to 1974.

The Cosworth Vega arrived in early 1975, at a time when Vega sales had begun to drop following a record 1974 sales year with 460,000 units delivered. Unlike the regular Vega, which came with a 140-cubic-inch (2.3-liter) four-cylinder, the Cosworth relied on a smaller, 122-cubic-inch (2.0-liter) four-banger.

Featuring an aluminum-alloy block with forged components, electronic ignition, electronic fuel injection, and stainless steel headers, the 16-valve twin-cam unit generated 110 horsepower and 107 pound-feet (145 Nm) of torque. Not exactly impressive compared to pre-1972 performance cars, but we need to keep in mind that this car was born in the Malaise era. And it delivered notably more oomph than the regular Vega engines, rated at 70 and 84 horsepower.


However, the Cosworth-prepared coupe failed to gain traction, primarily due to its high price. At almost twice the cost of a standard Vega, the Cosworth was just $900 less expensive than a 1975 Corvette. Chevy only sold 2,062 examples in 1975 and 1,446 units in 1976 as a result, for a total run of 3,508 vehicles. Due to lack of interest, GM essentially discarded 1,500 of the 5,000 engines that were developed for the Cosworth Vegas. By 2022, the Cosworth variant of the Vega will likely be the rarest. It’s hardly remarkable that “Classic Ride Society” discovered one in a junkyard, but it’s not nearly as desired and precious as other Chevrolets from the era.

The automobile is in awful shape, with major corrosion concerns, a crumpled hood, missing pieces, and a junked interior. That’s the truly sad part though. Conversely, the car’s Cosworth engine still exists. Furthermore, based on the information on the window sticker, this Vega has been idle for 41 years—it was last driven in 1981. That would indicate that it was only driven for six years, which is a terrible ending for any car.

But there’s a bit of good news in this story. According to our host, the car was scheduled to be crushed when someone came to the junkyard to save it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be restored, but maybe it will become a donor to fix a different Cosworth Vega.

Yes, this car is proof that rare doesn’t always mean highly sought-after and valuable, but I’m still glad it didn’t end up in the crusher. Check it out in the video below.