Tag: Chevrolet Vega

You don’t find such nice plaid seats in anything but a perfectly preserved 1976 Chevrolet Vega Kammback station wagon – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

You don’t find such nice plaid seats in anything but a perfectly preserved 1976 Chevrolet Vega Kammback station wagon – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


While it’s a tremendous and important job preserving noteworthy cars—the kinds of cars that get magazine covers and that twirl on the dais at car shows—it’s perhaps equally important from an anthropological view to preserve the everyday cars that, for the most part, get driven into the ground and rarely get restored due to lack of aftermarket support. This 1976 Chevrolet Vega Kammback station wagon listed for sale on Hemmings.com falls into the latter category, kept pretty close to pristine over the years thanks to its Texas upbringing, its decades-long rest in a barn, and a couple preservationists dedicated to cleaning it up and putting it back on the road but leaving as much original equipment on the car as possible. From the seller’s description:

This 1976 Chevy Vega Kammback Estate is truly one-of-a-kind. The car has a Dura-Built 140 4 cylinder engine paired to a 5-speed manual transmission. The car has 34,790 original miles, almost all from the first owner (I have put about 500 miles). After the original owner drove it around Amarillo, Texas for about 9 years (1976-1985), it was sold to an individual who stored it in a barn where it stood untouched for 36 years (1985-2020) with little humidity and no sun light (and luckly no mice!?). I bought it from the person that rescued it in August of 2020. He proceeded to make some repairs (new battery, tires, shock absorbers, spark plugs and wires, and a new exhaust system, among other items), He also cleaned, waxed and buffed the original paint (he specializes in classic car paint), which is in excellent condition. The car has no rust.

When I bought it, it had a couple of scratches along the faux wood trim on both doors, which I repaired, and replaced the entire original factory-installed faux wood trim with the same 3M material used originally. I then proceeded to make 30+ additional repairs to bring the car to its original best. These included among others the following: New radiator, heater core, hoses, brakes, engine mounts, air filter & casing, hood release cable, valve cover gasket, outside mirrors, A/C vents, arm rests, radio & speakers, door rubber gasket seals. All fluids where changed, engine was detailed and undercarriage cleaned. Engine and carburetor were fine tuned. It passed emission tests in Colorado.

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Ask a Hemmings Editor: What gave the Chevy Vega engine its bad reputation? – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


The Chevrolet Vega represented a number of firsts when it burst onto the scene for the 1971 model year. It pioneered a number of product development processes at GM, it made use of new production methods and technologies, and it even introduced a novel means of rail shipment. It’s also widely seen as Chevrolet’s first major blunder from beginning to end, yet the main culprit that everybody points to as the cause of its failures certainly wasn’t the Vega’s only issue and may not have been its primary problem.
Earlier this week, reader Leif Ortegren asked us what exactly caused the Vega to get such a bad rap when new.

I wonder why the Vega motor was so unreliable. If memory serves, it had an aluminum block with coated cylinder walls. This was pretty new technology when introduced, but other cars (Porsche for one) used it successfully for years.

And in response, we heard a couple of the most oft-quoted causes for Vega engine failures: lack of a coolant recovery tank in the earliest models, and insufficient coating of the cylinder walls. Neither are wrong, but at the same time, neither answer fully encapsulates what went wrong with the L-13/L-11 overhead-camshaft 140-cu.in. four-cylinder engine. (For the purposes of this article, we’re not going to discuss the rust or other issues that contributed to the Vega’s reputation, just the engine.)

To begin with, while we’ve written in the past that engineer Jim Musser, who oversaw the Vega development program, also oversaw the development of the engine, that’s not entirely correct. Rather, the engine grew out of work General Motors had done on sleeveless aluminum engines going back to the Fifties and GM engineer Eudell Jacobsen had been working on an overhead-camshaft four-cylinder version since at least 1966, two years before GM Chairman James Roche announced that Chevrolet would have an answer to the import tide by 1970.