We’ve given the Vega a lot of tough love here over the years, including my second GM Deadly Sin ever. That was back in 2009, when piling on Chevy’s (non)love child was still a fun activity. Back then there were still a few chugging along on the streets, at least hereabouts. But those days are long gone, and original unmolested Vega sightings have become rare. So it perked me up to see this fine ’75 Kammback GT at the Cohort, posted by Yubby Ol’Cone.
It appears that it’s come to this location for a consultation; I can understand that; we all could use some professional help once in a while; some of us more than others. And how long have you been feeling ostracized? Forty-seven years! Why didn’t you seek help sooner?
What a nice looking car, especially from this angle. To bad that beauty is often only skin-deep, and the Vega’s skin was exceptionally thin. This one has been spared the ravages of terminal veganoma, despite being in Ithaca, NY. It must have lived a very sheltered life, given how shiny its paint still is. I’m not sure what happened to it on this side, but a bit of body work would have it looking as pristine as its other side.
See what I mean? So maybe the consultation is to determine just how valuable this Vega would be if it gets that bodywork. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more than what you and I might throw off the top of our heads. Malaise cars are hot, and this is as malaise as it gets.
Well, strictly speaking, the ’74 and ’73 were even more malaise, as hp ratings had reached their nadir then and were headed up, a whopping three more (78 hp) in 1975, thanks to the addition of a catalytic converter. And the GT model got the two-barrel version, with 87 hp!
Oops; that was short-lived; by 1976, ratings were back down to 70 and 84. Oh well. Who’s counting anyway. The good news is that by this time, the three-speed T-H had replaced the Powerglide.
I had an older friend in Towson, who was driving his grandfather’s 1962 Cutlass, with the four-barrel 215 V8. I got within 2-3 mph of doing my first century in that car, on the way out to Ocean City, when a sudden plume of steam blocking my night time visibility robbed me of that milestone. I was fifteen at the time — it was part of my “pre-driver’s ed”; kind of like kindergarten. I wanted to make sure I was ready for that when the time came.
That was a pleasant digression, because when I came back to Towson the first time after I left home in 1971, he was now driving a brand new 1971 Vega hatchback. Really? I guess he had a predilection for GM’s aluminum engines. I had of course read plenty about it, and already had my doubts, despite lots of positive early press. Of course I grabbed the keys from him and we went for a drive. This one had the base engine and…the two-speed Powerglide. The not-so-good vibrations from the big four were not encouraging, and taking off down Towsontown Boulevard with a full throttle felt like it was a very early Powerglide, where one had to select Low to get a first gear start. Oh my…and on the Beltway, it was obvious that this Vega would never dream of hitting the century; even 75 was a strain.
Something bad eventually happened to this hatchback, and it was replaced by a Kammback, but it was no better otherwise. But when I came back for Christmas 1974, he was rocking a brand new VW Rabbit, the $2,999 special with cardboard door trim. But what a difference! It was like a rocket in comparison to his Vega and my VW 1200. Its little 1.5 L mill revved like unlike anything I had driven before. The shifter clicked off the gears. The handling was unreal! And genuine space utilization!
I knew we had finally entered a new automotive era. The Vega and the Rabbit; as different as a dog and hare.