Prophetic words indeed: A classic butt of endless jokes.
I literally laughed when I got to the part where they called the Vega’s engine “amazingly quiet”. I’ve heard the Vega engine called a lot of things, but quiet was never one of them.
An engine that never runs is much quieter on average than an engine that runs. They were technically accurate in terms of dB noise exposure.
I know we don’t have a COTD here, but if we did….
Hmm, that’s awkward.
It seems that the GM ad and marketing people hadn’t a chance to drive a Vega before they created this ad.
David E Davis Jr said that the lead copywriter for Corvette advertising explained his creative process when they both worked at Campbell Ewald: ‘I write a story about the most exciting sports car in the world, then I go back, cross out “Ferrari,” and write in “Corvette”.’
And what make was crossed out in favor of “Vega” for this ad?
The seats, “carved out of foam”. Poetic.
Aluminum block because they had the production capacity, iron head for cost reasons. Put the weight up high just where you don’t want it. Still, if it were reliable from day one it might well have had a chance.
I can’t help but wonder how things would’ve turned out had it had been the other way around, a cast iron block with aluminum heads. Maybe the money saved would’ve allowed for a properly sized radiator and a coolant recovery tank.
And to make matters worse, GM repeated the combination of an aluminum block with cast iron heads a decade later, with the Cadillac HT4100 engine. However, that engine did employ cast iron cylinder liners.
I had a sort of friend whose dad was a die hard Chevy guy, until he went (IMHO) insane and bought not one, but two Vegas. One of the normal hatch and the other a wagon. Both were total trash and it was known they were trash before they bought them. They were both burning oil from almost day one, and the wagon had rust starting soon after the first winter that soon spread all over. I asked him why his parents bought them and he said “My dad thought those problems were just bugs they needed to work out! He was wrong.” The hatchback was replaced about 1975 with a Camaro, and the Wagon went to about 1977, when it was replaced with another dud, a Pontiac Wagon, which I saw for the first time a few days before it went in 1984. At that point Toyota was where their money went. Still does.
Is the miserable transmission-to-axle torque arm there, or did artistic license eliminate it?
I think that arm was on the later versions, 1975 and up.
They all became see-through after a couple of years.
“Smoother gas flow”? “Engine looks a lot like a car engine” Copy reads like a Mandarin to English translation. What type of engine should a car have?
It was an era of cynical hipness in advertising. The generation that grew up hearing about cars with ultra-vista-pillow-soft-window defrosters were attracted to the smug cynicism approach to advertising insincerity. The young adults wearing striped bell-bottom Levis and turtlenecks felt too intelligent for the old ad approach popular with their parents, so GM got them to buy Vegas by sounding like it was just, you know, a real car that will become a classic. No big deal – just the best car that was ever made for hipsters and groove-sters that are smarter than the squares they were forced to have as parents.
GM was marketing against the Beetle, which was embraced by groovy kids with far-out ideas. Sideburns just couldn’t have been long enough, MAN.
Dude, we’e been trying to educate you here for years. This was absolutely nothing new; it’s how cars have been advertised since almost forever:
The Jordan ad prose really works to sell the “sizzle” This example for the Vega is just insulting and condescending.
The ironic thing is that VD got it backwards: that Vega ad is all about the steak, not the sizzle. It’s all about the features of the car. The ad writers were just writing what was fed to them. How could they know that the engine turned out to be a stinker?
I don’t blame the ad writers in this at all; this was put out just as the Vega was about to come out. It’s easy to judge them in hindsight.
Can the term, “classic”, refer to a POS?
Somehow it didn’t make the cut into internet “Christine” movie quotes, but I recall a conversation about the Fury from when Arnie was getting ready to buy it that went something like this:
Arnie: She’s twenty years old this year, and that makes her a classic!
Dennis: Then Darnell’s junkyard is full of classics.
Now that I think about it, this many just have been a conversation in the book that didn’t make it to the movie. The movie may not even have been as particular about being set in 1978 as the book was.
My father’s godfather sure wasn’t in that group. A very practical man who drove a string of Chevrolet’s from 1925 till his then current 1949 (bought new) felt that the bloat of everything else they offered in 1971 did not fit his tastes or needs. Ugh….. he was sorely disappointed with his choice.
The car was so close to being so good. The styling and package was basically 3/4 of a Camaro or a Chevelle, and people have always loved those cars, as mediocre (or worse) as they were, in so many dimensions. An engine as powerful and durable as the Ford engine that was put in the Pinto, was all it would have taken to get this car into the sweet spot of Detroit mediocrity, and would have made it a keeper.
They are really a great iteration of the early seventies American sporty sedan styling. It’s just that when those of us of a certain age think of them, we envision oil smoke, engine vibration, overheating, engine failure, and massive rust. There is simply no getting past all of those things, when one thinks of a Vega.
“But believe us, it’s a real “break-through”
Emphasis added at the end, but I love truth in advertising.
Okay, not dunking on the Vega, but I haven’t driven anything around this vintage, and I can’t figure out:
What is power ventilation?
What does that mean the Vega does which the competition doesn’t? Is it more than just the Beetle’s two levers near the shifter?
Power Ventilation simply means the blower motor is always running (on low).
Which is why all ’71 GM cars had louvers on their trunks, for the exhaust air. Thos ended up being a serious problem (leaking) so most of the ’72s don’t have visible exhausts. I assume they found a better way to exhaust.
The exhaust moved to the door jambs in 1972. The concept remained though, with the fan running at low at all times (unless another speed was selected). I question how effective this move was as I know from my experience with GM products from this era with the door jambs vents is that you didn’t get much airflow unless the window was cracked. It was not a problem for those who sprung for A/C, but my folks never did.
I remember those exhaust vents in the door jambs — my mother’s 73 Monte Carlo had them. It was the first car our family had with a/c.
As I recall, people hated the fact that you couldn’t shut off the fan. I’m not sure why, because I almost always have the fan motor running regardless of ambient air temperature. The only car I owned where you could obtain good air flow without the fan running (and wide open windows) was in my Volvo 240 2-door, in which the kick panel vent could be opened along with the flip-out rear side windows.
I grew up with my dad’s ’74 and ’79 GMC pickups that had this feature, and when mom bought a new ’86 Plymouth Horizon the fact that the blower could be turned completely off felt like a real innovation even though we hardly ever did, and I still don’t.
One of the reasons people wanted to turn off the fan was to stop the damn squealing blower motor which was squealing because it had been running constantly since day one. Changes lots of blower motors. With the windows cracked you would get decent air flow thru most vehicles without needing the blower motor running. It didn’t help that GM also put a crappy motor in most and charged extra to put in a high volume motor. Swapped many out during the first winter of ownership. Always nice to tell the customer you have a fix for the new vehicle he bought, just need to buy a new motor and fan.
I think my brother had a mid-70s Olds which did that, but year/model escapes me.
I’m sure that my parents’ 1976 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale hardtop sedan had “power ventilation.” That car did have air conditioning.
I realize that 40 years have dulled some of the worse memories, but my Vega wasn’t THAT bad. Mine had a great powerband compared to the other 4 cylinder cars my peers drove; certainly felt as quick as a 2 liter Pinto, though I concede that earplugs helped. And at least the GT seats were extremely comfortable. I’m not sure what torque arm a few commenters are referring to. I thought they all had the usual for the time 4 link GM suspension, with shortish angled upper trailing arms which allowed horrendous axle hop in the right conditions. There was, at least on mine, a laminated sheet metal weight on a short arm hanging off the transmission, acting as a vibration absorber, presumably to insure that the engine was smooth and quiet.
I seem to recall the torque arm came in with the Monza, and later Vegas picked it up. Could be wrong.
A classic misinformation campaign!
When the Cosworth Vega came on the scene in 1975 the price was within $900 or so of a Corvette. Undaunted, the advertisers bellowed, “Cosworth. One Vega for the price of two.”
What’s amazing is how great GM was in 65. Close the door on a 65 fisher body car. The fit and finish on those cars was pretty damn good. Rock solid engine and transmissions. And by 1970? Still boggles my mind
Rock solid engines with mounts that would fail, jamming the throttle full open putting the driver in a bad situation. Saw many late 60’s GM cars back in the day (V8s mostly) with a length of heavy link chain securing the engine to the frame.
I experienced the broken motor mount in a 63 Ford with a modified 352 and a 4 speed trans. Luckily it was out on a back country road. Nailed the throttle hard intending on running thru the gears. Man was it a surprise when I let off the throttle to grab second gear and instead the engine just pegged the tach and screamed some bloody awful noises. Gas pedal is stuck to the floor and it took a second to figure out what to do, turn off the key stupid. Stopped the car, popped the hood(that’s another story) the throttle linkage has dropped over-center pinning that big Holley wide open. Pop the linkage apart and reassemble. OK that was interesting, lets putter back home and see what this is all about.
This has to be the height of GM promotional propaganda. An ad like this for such a dud of a car at this time would be the source of endless memes.
“See that side-guard door beam in the door below?”
…well you wouldn’t if it hadn’t been mandated.
didn’t DeLorean hate the Vega, that is was forced on him?
didn’t Cole do that?
“The first prototype tested by Chevy engineers fell apart after only eight miles at a GM test track, according to On a Clear Day. Said DeLorean: “The front end of the car separated from the rest of the vehicle. It must have set a record for the shortest time taken for a new car to fall apart.” Engineers had to add 20 pounds in understructure to remedy the problem, and that was just the start of the Vega’s “ponderous proportions in weight and price compared to the original car,” he said.
Chevy was especially disappointed with the engine GM chose for the Vega: a new inline four-cylinder 2.3-liter with a single camshaft and an all-aluminum engine block and cast iron heads. Aside from the use of aluminum, the engine was dated and produced only 90 hp — a pitiful output at a time when Detroit muscle still ruled and a gallon of regular gasoline cost 36 cents…”
Also prophetic – “We have plenty to hide” and “see through Vega”!
Has anyone watched the final season of Mad Men? The advertising agency had GM as a client. It took place in 1969 to 1970. It was never the subject of a full episode because they were not allowed to see the car. There were just lines thrown in here and there all season. In the finale, they finally introduced the revolutionary new car. The Vega.
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