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Chevrolet Vega Review

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See also the main fact sheets for the Chevrolet Vega.

Contents

High Points

1971 Chevrolet advertizement
1971 Chevrolet advertizement

The Chevrolet Vega was popular with the automotive press, winning awards and praise for its innovative engineering, timeless styling, and sports car-like handling.

Motor Trend called the Vega one of the "Ten Best Cars of 1971" and "Motor Trend Car of the Year" for 1971. "The base Vega is a magnificent automobile without any options at all." "We choose the Vega as the Car of the Year because of Vega's engineering excellence, timeliness, styling, and overall value...for the money, no other American car can deliver more."

Road Test magazine in September, 1970 said: "Chevy pulled out the stops on this one-aluminum ohc engines, four body styles, high style options put it in a class by itself." "It's innovative without being complex."

Hot Rod magazine in 1972, road tested a Vega GT Kammback, and said: "The car never looks like something you had to buy..It's the kind of car we'd buy to look good in, work on, add to, and wash once a week."

Hot Rod in a 1972 models introduction issue voted the Vega GT "Best Buy" of the entire 1972 Chevrolet line.

Hot Rod, on the Millionth Vega, said: "Chevrolet was so smitten with the car, they've built 6143 Millionth Vegas. The series is basically a styled-up Vega GT with some nice interior touches..They'll probably sell a million of 'em."

Small cars magazine said in 1972: "Z/29 Vega GT: It's either the sportiest economy car in the world or the most economical sports car in the world.

Motor Trend selected the Vega GT "1973 Car of the Year in the economy class. MT said: "The best version of the Vega came out on top matched against the best versions of its competition." "The Vega was judged solid, warm and comfortable, with a good finish." Pleasing the American car buyer is a delicate task. Economy really means economy with an illusion of luxury. This time Chevrolet won the guessing game."

Motor Trend's "10 Best Selling (American Made) Cars" test in 1975 included the Vega. "The Vega has been vacillating on the sales charts from just out of the top 10 to just into the top 10. We have to conclude that Monza sales have hurt the Vega and will continue to do so."

Car and Driver', in its 35th anniversary retrospective issue in 1990 mentioned the Vega: Detroit Fights Back - Ford Pinto and Vega 2300: "...they are the best, most import-beating subcompacts that American Technology knows how to build. If VW and the other small intruders survive this attack, they'll be assumed invincible." Showroom-Stock Challenge III - "We win again, this time in a-Vega GT, proof that truth is stranger than fiction."

Motor Trend Classic magazine in a 2010 "Loving Look Back" drive of a Vega GT, Pinto Runabout and Gremlin X said: "Chevrolet spun the Vega as a more American, upscale car. And let's face it, the car looked hot. So can you blame us for falling hook, line, and sinker for the Vega and naming it 1971's Car of the Year?" "Surviving Vegas are like a fossil record of everything that was wrong with the American auto industry circa 1970, but well-maintained examples are also great looking, nice-driving, economical classics—like Baltic Ave. with a Hotel, the best ones can be had for $10K or less." "Emotionally, Jim Brokaw summed it up in January 1972: Gremlin has power, but Pinto has the price, and a much quieter ride. Which car is best? Vega."

Low Points

The early model Vega aluminum-block inline-4 engine was rated rough and noisy, however the car's attributes seemed to have made up for it based on the press reviews and the car's popularity.

Road & Track in their 1970 road test "Vegas Plain and Fancy" said, "The engine proved a let down. It's extremely rough and noisy..on the positive side, freeway cruising is relaxed and quiet, the slow-running engine's noise covered by wind and road noise.."

Road & Track in their Vega owner survey from 1973, stated: "The level of assembly doesn't match the virtues of the design."

Car and Driver', in its 35th anniversary retrospective issue in 1990 mentioned the Vega: " Cosworth Vega Preview - "A sixteen-valve head on a Vega aluminum block seems like a neat idea to us, so we rev up our prose. The car when it finally arrives, it cannot keep up with our feverish preview." Detroit Fights Back - "The Pontiac Astre is introduced. It's a Vega with better decals."

Car and Driver.com recently included the 1971 Chevrolet Vega on its "10 most Embarrassing Award Winners in Automotive History" list criticizing Motor Trend, 38 years after the fact, for selecting the 1971 Vega "Car of the Year."

Poular Mechanics.com in November 2008, listed the 1971–1977 Chevrolet Vega as one of 10 cars that damaged GM's reputation.

Performance and Handling

This is the section where significant statistics on the vehicle should be mentioned. Please include as much information as possible with regards to:

Pricing

Due mostly to inflation, but also because of emissions and safety mandates, prices of all automobiles rose 50 percent during the Vega's seven-year lifespan. The same basic Vega that cost $2090 in 1971 carried a retail price of $3249 by the end of 1977. And since all other cars suffered the same inflationary rise, less expensive cars were in greater demand than those with higher prices which helped Vegas sell.The 1975 Cosworth Vega however, at $5,918 was priced $892 below the Chevrolet Corvette. "Cosworth. One Vega for the price of two" as it was advertised, was priced out of the market, and fell well short of its projected sales goal.


1971-1977 Vega Sedan (Notchback)
1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977
MSRP-base price
$2090. $2060. $2087. $2505. $2786. $2984. $3249.

Gas Mileage

The Vega Wagon's 27.083 mpg fuel economy was rated number ten in Motor Trend's mid-summer cruise of "15 Cars To Own in a Gas Crisis" in 1973. The Vega LX Notchback's 30.0 mpg was rated number nine in Motor Trend's "50 Cars Worth Their Weight In Gold" in 1974.

As seen on the FuelEconomy.gov website, the City/Highway MPG averages are as follows:

Trim
Trim1 Trim2 Trim3 Trim4
MPG
c/h c/h c/h c/h

Safety

As introduced in 1970, Vega accident prevention standard equipment included front disc brakes, which at the time, were optional on many vehicles.

Door steel guard beams, double panel roof construction, and an automatic fuel pump shutoff in the event of accident which were not available on other small American or foreign cars. Front lap/shoulder belts, rear lap belts.

Reliability and Maintenance

Warranty options and scheduled maintainence information should be mentioned here.

Interior and Comforts

If there are certain features or components of the vehicle's Interior that are worth mentioning, do so here.

Exterior

Same logic as the Interior applies for the Exterior.

Styles and Options

Certain trim levels or styles have been more popular or recieved better reception in sales. Trim and option reviews should be mentioned here.

Main Competitors

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