Originally slated for a 185hp Cosworth 16-valve version of the Chevrolet Vega’s inline four, the final horsepower number was dumbed down from the original 1971 forecast to 140hp in 1973 and finally 110hp in 1975 at the car’s release. However, put yourself back in the early emissions-strangled dark days of 1975 – catalytic converters were a new requirement, and manufacturers were still learning how to reduce emissions without heavily impacting performance. Well, okay, they had not learned much yet, and to make things worse, the 1972 change to net horsepower ratings means converted to net hp, the original number could have been anywhere between 130-170hp. And with roughly similar cars putting out similar figures (see twincam Fiat and Alfa engines to get you started) the power numbers are actually pretty respectable. Check out this 1975 Chevrolet Vega Cosworth for sale for $3900 in Eastern Long Island, NY.
Wait, Eastern Long Island… wasn’t there a horrible storm there which automatically means every car there is a rusting pile, so run away? Well, check the name of the site at the top of the page – and more seriously, looking at this car more closely shows some details that means automatic dismissal would be an overreaction. Recognizing the limitations of small-format pictures, there is not much visible corrosion on the shiny surfaces, like wheels, bumpers, and trim. The condition of the car is indicative of a low (52,000) mileage car that’s been stored in a damp climate.
The car looks to have Florida plates, so perhaps this is the outcome of an online auction purchase that did not disclose all the car’s issues. It photographs well, with glossy paint, attractive gold factory wheels and trim in good condition, and while it’s said to run and drive, the seller says it needs work on its non-stock dual Weber carburetor setup. As a side note, once fixed these may free up more power than the stock electronic fuel injection – if nothing else, they’ll probably sound awesome.
Speaking of which, here’s the engine. Just think of how much of this engine’s spec is found in modern cars – dual belt-driven overhead cams, sixteen valves, electronic fuel injection, and more. 1975 cars got a 4-speed, but for 1976, a five-speed manual was available. Either way, you got a really sexy exhaust manifold to go with your high-tech engine – this was clearly when GM was still (just barely) unafraid to try new technologies.
The interior looks in remarkable condition. This is where you’ll want to dig around if you’re concerned about flood damage – things like the engine-turned dash trim and eighties cassette deck look to be clean and in good shape, and the seats are said to have a small tear. Aside from the carburetor issues, the window frame has some rust perforation, and you’ll want to reach out to the seller for more specifics. Would you stabilize the rust as best you could and develop the drivetrain into a solid weekend driver?