CC Capsule: 1973 Chevy Vega: Rust Never Sleeps On A Vega


Once the Curbside Classic bug has bitten you, every trip out of the house is an adventure. Just yesterday, I thought my trip to Orchard Supply Hardware had provided me with a CC rara avis (rare bird): There, in the parking lot sat a genuine Chevy Vega! Could it be the last 2300 cc-powered beater Vega left on the planet?


The front bumper calls out the model year. For some reason, most ’73 domestics came with an upgraded front bumper, but carried forward with the rear bumper pretty much unchanged. I’ve never looked up the regulations, but I’d guess the Feds made ’73 a transition year requiring increased protection over ’72 but not yet the full protection mandated for ’74. At any rate, this car’s extended bumper and wider fill panel tell me it’s a ’73, despite the unchanged grille and tail lights.


Here’s a better shot of the Vega’s “mini-Camaro” styling. While the low roof line associated with said styling did not enhance utility, the looks helped Chevrolet sell close to 400,000 Vegas in both ’72 and ’73. Then again, from today’s perspective it’s  no surprise that sales tanked to 78,402 in 1977 despite the styling. If you’re not familiar with the Vega’s steamy, overheated history, you can review it in the CC articles posted here, here, here and here.


Once I finished my walk-around, the only custom feature I had spotted were the larger, extra-wide wheels. Overall, it’s looking pretty stock.


No surprises inside, either. The steering wheel says “GT,” but the fenders lack GT badges. I’m going with a steering wheel upgrade, rather than this being a genuine GT. Too bad- I think the GT package increases the book value by up to $25!


While California’s mild climate protects Porsches and Jaguars (both infamous for their lack of corrosion resistance), this hatchback perforation proves NOTHING rusts like a Vega.


Spotting this single tailpipe, I’m still thinking this Vega packs an aluminum-block engine topped with an iron head. Still, something about it emits a non-stock vibe–maybe it’s that odd camber angle on the left-front wheel?

To find out, I got down on the ground and inspected the underside. Sure enough, two pipes ran from the engine bay back to the muffler, indicating an engine with two banks–most likely a mouse motor, but by using parts from a B-O-P H-body, someone could have just as easily bolted in a Buick V6.

Since it lacks the stock power plant, I’ve chosen not to go with the full Curbside Classic write up. Even so, I know you’ll all enjoy this brief view of this Seventies “classic.”