Orphan American – 1972 Chevrolet Vega Kammback

So you’re probably thinking, oh, RustyButTrusty is wandering towards the mainstream again with this choice of car. To answer that, I have two responses. One, when’s the last time you saw a Vega on the road? Two, what car enthusiast wouldn’t be interested in a car with coil springs all around, front disc brakes, and an aluminum-block overhead cam 80-90hp four-cylinder, in a stylish 2-door package influenced by cars such as the Fiat 124 coupe? Let’s not dismiss the poor reputation Vegas had back when they were new , but 40 years on, any survivors must have been exempt from those issues, or have had them resolved by resourceful owners.

Going any further into the history of the Vega would just be duplicating the truly interesting Wikipedia page about this car, but the innovations in this car stretched beyond simply the car itself, into things such as the transportation. Cars were transported via rail stood up on their noses, vertically, yet were delivered in a ready-to-drive state. This particular car seems to have survived that and any number of other threats to its existence, and is available in Oklahoma City, OK for $2300.

1972 Chevrolet Vega Kammback right

What a smart design – its front end is cribbed from the Camaro of the same time, and generally looks very clean and European-influenced. There are certain cars that are very well suited to white, and this seems to be one of those. The wheels on this car hint that it may be a twin-carb GT model. With the history of hot-rodding done to this car (Car & Driver raced them), it should be possible to make some drivetrain and suspension improvements without going to extremes.

1972 Chevrolet Vega Kammback front

Here you can clearly see what was taken from the Camaro, and that’s not a criticism. The full height grill with slim chrome bumper running across it is pretty elegant for a compact of that time. This car was built to compete with the Beetle – which do you think is better-looking?

1972 Chevrolet Vega Kammback left

Here’s the other side. Who knows what those side vents over the rear wheels are for? Flow-through ventilation, or just a copy from a VW squareback? The car looks lost among a bunch of newer cars at some sort of wholesale auction lot.

1972 Chevrolet Vega Kammback interior

The interior looks reasonably tidy too, although you should expect at least some sun-damage to the dash, if this is a southern dry-state car. It’s hard to tell if this car is a manual or automatic, and the listing doesn’t specify. That said, if you want to wake things up a bit, you can pick up this somewhat-derelict project 1976 Cosworth Vega with its twincam engine, for $2500 in Jackson, MI. Grab the 4-speed and twincam as well as the rear suspension, reverse some of the smog-era equipment that sapped its power, and surprise the Euro-snobs in their Alfas and BMWs.


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