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Old 03-08-2016, 07:35 PM
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Default The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

This project is finally off the ground. This project car is my second car that I had ever owned. I bought it in 1979 for 500 bucks after I had totaled out my first car, a 69 Buick Electra 225 2-door loaded..yes...loaded. This Vega was my daily driver for many years. We rebuilt the original 140 4 banger 2bl. auto with fresh steel sleves ( this block already had them) fresh cam bearings, decked the block and head, added the Offenhauser aluminum dual-port intake and a Heddman header to it as well as High energy ignition off of a newer 76 model and changed the valve cover where the PVC was located "on higher ground" so it wouldn't suck oil when the high pressure oil pump filled the head up too high. Got rid of the automatic and went with the Saginaw 4 speed, which is set to be either rebuilt or replaced with the T-5 Borg-Warner 5 speed. The rear end is out of a 77 Vega with the support running longitudinally with the drive shaft to reduce wheel hopping. Something the 74 never had. Added a tilt steering column from a Monza. This motor runs and purrs like a kitten and tachs up nicely. So, we're putting all of the running gear and the tranny and the motor into a Cosworth 75 rolling chassis that has very minimal rust because they were double dipped as the regular Vegas were not. The beefed up 74 will outrun the Cosworth anyway...there were many automotive firsts with the Vega. I obtained an almost perfect hood for my project today. The donor car was parked rebuilt and freshly broken in over 20 years ago, but has been regularly cranked. I will post pictures or add them to an album soon. Peace
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Old 03-15-2016, 11:54 AM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - 74GT

Intercooler for the Vega? Borrowing an idea from the Crossfire, and since I have a dual-port Offenhauser intake on the 140ci.4 banger with a water jacket, I thought a nice mod would be to add our MB intercooler pump and a small radiator and fan unit from a liquid cooled motorcycle to cool the intake gasses and make the mix a bit denser.
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Old 03-15-2016, 05:12 PM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - 74GT

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Originally Posted by Fla_Xfire_SRT View Post
Intercooler for the Vega? Borrowing an idea from the Crossfire, and since I have a dual-port Offenhauser intake on the 140ci.4 banger with a water jacket, I thought a nice mod would be to add our MB intercooler pump and a small radiator and fan unit from a liquid cooled motorcycle to cool the intake gasses and make the mix a bit denser.
Saw this post and had to add this. A close friend ran a body shop in MA and came across a damaged Buick SkyLark Coupe with the V-8 in it. About a 75. It sat at the shop for awhile until he had the opportunity to purchase a 75 Vega Nomad station wagon. From AZ. NO RUST. He had the V-8 rebuilt, (big bucks) bought a low profile blower and put it in the Vega. SCARY CAR, but fun. We are now in our 70's, he isn't well and the car just sits in his garage at home. SAD
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:33 PM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - 74GT

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Originally Posted by Fla_Xfire_SRT View Post
This project is finally off the ground. This project car is my second car that I had ever owned. I bought it in 1979 for 500 bucks after I had totaled out my first car, a 69 Buick Electra 225 2-door loaded..yes...loaded. This Vega was my daily driver for many years. We rebuilt the original 140 4 banger 2bl. auto with fresh steel sleves ( this block already had them) fresh cam bearings, decked the block and head, added the Offenhauser aluminum dual-port intake and a Heddman header to it as well as High energy ignition off of a newer 76 model and changed the valve cover where the PVC was located "on higher ground" so it wouldn't suck oil when the high pressure oil pump filled the head up too high. Got rid of the automatic and went with the Saginaw 4 speed, which is set to be either rebuilt or replaced with the T-5 Borg-Warner 5 speed. The rear end is out of a 77 Vega with the support running longitudinally with the drive shaft to reduce wheel hopping. Something the 74 never had. Added a tilt steering column from a Monza. This motor runs and purrs like a kitten and tachs up nicely. So, we're putting all of the running gear and the tranny and the motor into a Cosworth 75 rolling chassis that has very minimal rust because they were double dipped as the regular Vegas were not. The beefed up 74 will outrun the Cosworth anyway...there were many automotive firsts with the Vega. I obtained an almost perfect hood for my project today. The donor car was parked rebuilt and freshly broken in over 20 years ago, but has been regularly cranked. I will post pictures or add them to an album soon. Peace

AH byou ring back the memories. I had a 75 Oldsmobile Starfire (basically the same car but with different stickers on the dash) with the odd fire V/6 and a Muncie four speed. I really loved that car. I had it for 20 years. 200K on the clock when the body just melted away. Although they were prone to rust and easily bent,, GM had a winner with that platform.

Last edited by Franc Rauscher; 05-13-2016 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 03-16-2016, 10:46 AM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - 74GT

Ah H-bodies. I had several, mostly GT 4-speeds with AC (AC cars got real radiators). And then there was my Sunbird.
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Old 03-16-2016, 12:43 PM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - 74GT

Nice cars..Correct on the larger radiators for the Air conditioned versions...my options are limited for what I choose as a replacement radiator. I will probably remove the plastic fan and opt for high speed electric fans when I get to that point.
Buick made a Skyhawk on the "H" body platform that my brother had beefed up with the oddfire V-6 that we called the FlyHawk. Presently we are removing everything from the dash area and firewall area ot the Cosworth and disassembling the GT dash and AC ductwork/condenser coil/heater coil box.
My next acquisitions will be an engine hoist and an engine stand so we can remove the running 140 from the GT. It looks like a mess , for now, but we will freshen her up with some spinning wire brushes and a bit of paint before it gets installed. I hope to complete this project in 12 months....pics soon.
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Old 03-17-2016, 12:01 AM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - 74GT

I also am a big fan of the HS cars, (the H is a Vega, the HS is the rest, S is for "Special") The cars were designed to be used with a rotary/wankel engine, but the emissions issues killed that.
My dad bought a White 1980 Sunbird Notchback new in Feb 1981, only option was power brakes. 4sp, AM, manual steering, tan vinyl seats. As it rusted over the years, he picked up a 1977 IMSA Spyder with a 305 (the body panels were already gone) and we planned to use that for parts on the Sunbird. We also got some parts from a 1978 Sunbird, mainly the tilt column.
The last one we had was a 1980 Monza Notchback that was Red with Black cloth interior. We got it in the 1990s with only 19K miles on it. When we were done with it, it had factory gauges from the spyder with working clock & tach. PS,PB, Tilt, Auto, Rear sway bar from a Spyder, front bar was Pontiac Performance "Formula Sunbird" over the counter (I forget how big, but it was huge and heavy) We ended up putting a rebuilt 327 from our 1967 El Camino in it with all of the factory mounts/accessories/manifolds from a 1977 IMSA Spyder. The hood was louvered and slotted in the front like a mini scoop, very sharp car, and fun to tool around in. I can't find any pictures of it, but there might be one around somewhere.
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Old 03-17-2016, 12:13 AM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - 74GT

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Ah H-bodies. I had several, mostly GT 4-speeds with AC (AC cars got real radiators). And then there was my Sunbird.

And the non AC cars got real side vents that actually worked. Plus they were were lighter overall without the larger rads and the power robbing AC unit.


I ordered mine special without AC for that very reason. Sports cars should be minimal, roll down windows and NO AC.
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Old 03-19-2016, 09:22 AM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

Roger that Franc, yea, but it gets aweful hot here in Florida. We added the kick vents to my GT when the ac quit working. I'll have the option of using either. ---The Sunbird sounds awesome Pioneer...We've got to torch out the long bolt holding the lower control arm today and set up the sand blasting booth. My helper is my buddy that had worked at a MB dealership for 3 years and helped me with the SC change out on the rescue SRT, he's thorough. I think however that I am the "helper". LOL
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Old 03-20-2016, 12:36 AM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

My first car was a 71 Vega Kammback (wagon). I bought it in 1981 for $100.00. The people who owned it thought the engine had locked up. I got it home, pulled the starter and noticed a chunk missing at the snout, We found the chunk lodged between the flywheel and the bellhousing. We got the piece out, put the wounded starter back on and it fired right up.
We were also told that the two speed automatic transmission had never shifted from first to second on it's own since they had bought it new. They had taken it back but couldn't get it fixed. While reading the owners manual I found the problem. You could order this transmission with automatic shift, or manual shift. So it was ordered this way and no one knew it.
Next, I went out to a local salvage yard where there was a Vega sedan delivery that was the same color (white) as mine. I grabbed the panels up and put them on mine. It was kind of a cool car, but terribly slow.

Here is something I'll bet youv'e never seen.
The photo's are of the Vert-A-Pac shipping system General Motors came up with to ship the Chevrolet Vega back in the 1970s? Developed along with Southern Pacific Railroad, GM was able to double the amount of Vega models it could ship by packing them into the unique storage cars vertically.

At the time, rail cars could fit 15 vehicles each, but Chevrolet was able to lower shipping costs by making it possible to ship 30 Vegas per rail car, in turn allowing the price of the Vega to remain as low as possible. Each rail car had 30 doors that would fold down so that a Vega could be strapped on, and then a forklift would come along and lift the door into place. All the cars were positioned nose down, and since they were shipped with all of their required fluids, certain aspects had to be designed specifically for this type of shipping, including an oil baffle in the engine, a special battery and even a re-positioned windshield washer reservoir.








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Old 03-20-2016, 08:58 AM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

Yea, I had a Vega hatchback as a work car for about a year.
It had to go, in the summer I couldn't pass anyone on the highway without first turning off the A/C.
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Old 03-20-2016, 09:05 AM
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Those are awesome pics. I had seen a black and white grainy photo from LordsTown loading the Vegas on railcars nose down, but not all three of these. Thanks for sharing. When I heard of the labor dispute that took place during the Vega years, and heard about how the workers would skip lunch and eat on the assembly line, it explained why we found sandwich bags stuffed under fenders that had to have been put there during assembly.
Yesterday we removed a stubborn lower control arm bolt that had been crossthreaded and rusted on with a torch and a long breaker bar. We set up our sandblasting booth and are preparing to fire up the sandblaster next week for the first time.
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Old 03-20-2016, 08:44 PM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

The nose down Vega's are where maintenance free batteries came from. They were designed for these cars. Something we still have today.
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:29 PM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

I like the old tanks.
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Old 03-22-2016, 05:59 AM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

The Vega is the first car designed with disc brakes standard. If GM sold them with the iron sleeves in the aluminum allow block from the beginning, they would not have had such a bad reputation. I think the sleeved engines were the first engine with a 3/36 warranty.
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Old 05-10-2016, 09:36 AM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

We pulled off doors and began prepping them yesterday after we changed the oil in 2 crossfires. Prepped out the floor pan area . It's gonna be a hot, sweaty, grimy summer to do this job. I was amazed at the knowledge of my mechanic. He removed the glass and regulator from the window without breaking the glass. He is teaching me to weld with the new wire feed (Miller) welder I got also. Who says you cant teach an old dog new tricks?
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Old 05-11-2016, 10:08 PM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

Post 10 - I really learned something.
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Old 05-12-2016, 05:38 PM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

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Here is something I'll bet youv'e never seen.
The photo's are of the Vert-A-Pac shipping system General Motors came up with to ship the Chevrolet Vega back in the 1970s? Developed along with Southern Pacific Railroad, GM was able to double the amount of Vega models it could ship by packing them into the unique storage cars vertically.

At the time, rail cars could fit 15 vehicles each, but Chevrolet was able to lower shipping costs by making it possible to ship 30 Vegas per rail car, in turn allowing the price of the Vega to remain as low as possible. Each rail car had 30 doors that would fold down so that a Vega could be strapped on, and then a forklift would come along and lift the door into place. All the cars were positioned nose down, and since they were shipped with all of their required fluids, certain aspects had to be designed specifically for this type of shipping, including an oil baffle in the engine, a special battery and even a re-positioned windshield washer reservoir.








I missed this interesting thread the first time around, quite an amazing sight to see.
As a small aside, I think that there are only 10 doors, each door has three cars on it. The forklift can be seen to be lifting three cars and the doors only have full length gaps every three cars. I stand to be corrected but the gaps between doors look to be proof of this.


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Old 05-12-2016, 09:30 PM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

Had enough Vegas I am not sure how many it was but always liked the wagons the best. Favorite was a 75 Astre wagon though. Had really screwy brake adjusters in the rear that never worked right.


Cars with AC had a much bigger radiator and better heaters so that was what I looked for.


Last H-body I had was a 78 Sunbird with V8, 4-speed, & posi from the factory.


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Old 06-13-2016, 08:44 AM
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Default Re: The Chevy Vega - '74 GT

Got the interior soft padded door panels restored, two pairs. One door ready for paint, got the engine out, firewall of both cars stripped and we have begun cutting out the good firewall ( with air conditioning box) to place into the Cosworth body...all in 94 degree heat. Any pictures at this stage are not pretty. There's a LOT of work to be done.
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