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Chevrolet Vega

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Chevrolet Vega
1971Chevy Vega Hatchback 1971 Chevrolet Vega
Manufacturer Chevrolet Motor Division
Parent company General Motors Corporation
Also called Vega 2300
Production 1970–1977
Model year(s) 1971–1977
Assembly U.S. flag Lordstown Assembly,
Lordstown, Ohio-United States
Sainte-Therese Assembly-Quebec, Canada
Successor Chevrolet Monza
Class Subcompact
Body style(s) 2-door sedan
2-door hatchback
2-door wagon
2-door panel delivery
Layout FR layout
Platform GM H platform (RWD)
Engine(s) 140 CID 2.3 Liter OHC 1bbl I4
140 CID 2.3 Liter OHC 2bbl I4
122 CID 2.0 Liter DOHC EFI I4
Transmission(s) 3-speed manual
4-speed manual
5-speed manual w/overdrive
Torque-Drive 2-spd. semi-auto.
Powerglide 2 spd. auto.
Turbo-Hydramatic 3 spd. auto.
Wheelbase 97.0 in (2,464 mm)
Length 169.7 in (4,310 mm)
Width 65.4 in (1,661 mm)
Height 51 in (1,295 mm)
Curb weight 2,181–2,270 lb (989–1,030 kg) (1971)
Related Pontiac Astre
Chevrolet Monza
Pontiac Sunbird
Buick Skyhawk
Oldsmobile Starfire
Designer GM design staff

Ed Cole-chief engineer Bill Mitchell-chief stylist

The Chevrolet Vega is a subcompact, four-passenger automobile produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors for the 1971 through 1977 model years. Production began on June 26, 1970. Introduced in September 1970 as the Vega 2300, the car's name derived from the star Vega and the engine size in cubic centremeters. The Vega's two-door body styles include a hatchback, notchback, wagon, and panel delivery. The Vega 140 CID engine is a 2,287 cc (139.6 cu in) aluminum-block in-line-4. By 1974 the Vega was among the top 10 best-selling American cars. The Cosworth Twin-Cam, a limited production, performance model was introduced in March 1975, with a 1,994 cc (121.7 cu in) all-aluminum, hand-built inline-four. A poor public perception of the Vega had developed from early model engine and fender corrosion issues that damaged General Motors reputation for build quality. The 1975 Vega-derived Chevrolet Monza and later, the lower-priced Chevrolet Chevette, offered alternatives. After a three year sales decline, despite efforts to improve the car's image, Chevrolet canceled the Vega and its aluminum engine at the end of the 1977 model year.

ModelsEdit

The Hatchback Coupe, first and foremost, is a styled subcompact. With its lower roof line and useful fold-down rear seat, it accounted for nearly half of all Vegas sold. {C "Will the real Ferrari 365 GT 2+2 please stand up? Vega coupe has roof, window, and deck forms extremely-and not accidentally-similar to those of Italian luxury car." - Road & Track, September 1970.

The Sedan, later named Notchback is the only Vega model with an enclosed trunk, has more rear seat headroom than the hatchback, and offered the lowest base price. {C "The plain Vega sedan is as good-looking a car as you'll find in its class...with the Vega they've turned out one of the finest-looking compact sedans in the world." - Road & Track, '72 road test annual

The Kammback wagon has 60 cubic feet of cargo space (with the rear seat down), a lower cargo liftover height and a swing-up liftgate. "...Vega wagon has extremely simple but pleasant overall shape." - Road & Track, September 1970

The Panel Express, a one-passenger panel delivery is based on the wagon with steel panels in place of the wagon's fixed rear side glass. Classified as a truck, the panel has a Chevy Van driver's seat, a deleted rear seat and an enclosed storage area under the load floor. An auxiliary front passenger seat was optional.

In mid-1971 an optional GT package for Hatchback and Kammback models was introduced which included the L-11 two-barrel 140 engine, the F-41 handling suspension option (H.D.springs and shock absorbers, front and rear stabilizer bars, 6-inch-wide wheels and 70-series raised white-letter tires), GT fender emblems, black-finished grill and lower body sills, clear parking lamp lenses, chrome belt and lower moldings, full instrumentation, four-spoke sport steering wheel, adjustable driver's seat back, a passenger-assist handle and a wood-grain dash. Satin-finished GT wheels with trim rings and chrome center caps replaced the argent wheels and stainless hub caps, and a hood/deck sport stripe in black or white was optional. {C Yenko Chevrolet marketed the Yenko Stinger II through 1973 — based on the GT, its 140 cu in L-11 engine featured high-compression pistons and a turbocharger producing 155 hp. Included were front and rear spoilers and side striping with "Yenko Stinger II" identification.

Model Year changesEdit

1972 models were essentially carried over from 1971 with a few refinements and additions. Vibration and noise levels were reduced by a revised exhaust system and better driveline damping and the rear shock absorbers were revised. The Turbo-hydramatic three-speed automatic transmission and a custom cloth interior were new options and a glove box was added.

The 1973 Vega had over 300 changes, including new exterior and interior colors and new standard interior trim. The front and rear script nameplates — "Chevrolet Vega 2300" were changed to block letters — "VEGA by Chevrolet". The front bumper, on stronger brackets was extended 3 inches with a steel body-color filler panel — to meet the 1973 5-mph front bumper standards. US-built Saginaw manual transmissions and a new shift linkage replaced the Opel-built units. The L-11 engine featured a new Holley staged two-barrel carburetor. New options included BR70-13 white stripe steel belted radial tires, full wheel covers and body side molding with black rubber insert. {C Two new models were introduced mid-year — the Estate Kammback Wagon with wood grain sides and rear trim, and the LX Notchback including a vinyl roof. {C On May 17, 1973 the one-millionth Vega was produced at the Lordstown assembly plant — a bright orange GT Hatchback with white sport stripes, power steering, a neutral custom vinyl interior with exclusive vinyl door panels, accent-color orange carpeting and millionth Vega door handle accents. A limited edition "Millionth Vega" was introduced replicating the milestone car. 6500 were built May to July.

The 1974 model year brought the only major exterior design changes, due to the revised front and rear 5-mph bumper standards. The redesigned front end featured a slanted header panel and recessed headlamp bezels with a louvered steel grille replacing the egg-crate plastic grille. Front and rear aluminum bumpers with inner steel spring (resembling the 1974 Camaro) replaced the chrome bumpers, and front and rear license plate mountings were relocated. A revised rear panel on Notchback and Hatchback models had larger single unit taillights and ventilation grills were eliminated on trunk and hatch lids. Overall length was increased six inches compared to 1971-72 models. A 16 gallon fuel tank replaced the 11 gallon tank. The GT sport stripes option was changed — side striping replaced the painted hood/deck stripes. The custom interior's wood-trimmed molded door panels were replaced with vinyl door panels matching the seat trim. In January plastic front fender liners were added after thousands of sets of fenders were replaced under warranty on 1971-1974 models. In February the "Spirit of America" limited edition hatchback was introduced featuring a white exterior, white vinyl roof, blue and red striping on body-sides, hood and rear-end panel, emblems on front fenders and rear panel, white "GT" wheels, A70-13 raised white-letter tires, a white custom vinyl interior and red accent color carpeting. 7500 were built through May. Sales peaked for the 1974 model year with 460,374 produced.

The 1975 Vega had 264 changes including H.E.I. (High-energy) electronic ignition and catalytic converter. New options included power brakes, tilt steering wheel, BR78-13B GM-spec steel belted wsw radial tires, and a special custom cloth interior option for the Hatchback and Kammback. In March the Cosworth Vega was introduced featuring an all-aluminum twin-cam inline-4 engine and the first use of electronic fuel injection on a Chevrolet passenger car. All 2,061 1975 models were black with gold accent striping, gold-colored aluminum wheels and black custom vinyl, black custom cloth, or white custom vinyl interiors with a gold "engine turned" dash bezel and gold-plated plaque with Cosworth ID and build number. The Panel Express was discontinued at the end of the model year. Never a big seller, Panel Express sales peaked the Vega's first year at 7,800 units. After leveling off to an average of 4,000 per year, only 1,525 1975 models were sold. Total sales fell to 206,239.

1976 models had 300 changes. A facelift included a revised header panel with Chevy bowtie emblem, a wider grill, revised headlamp bezels — all made of corrosion resistant material, and new tri-color taillights for the Notchback and Hatchback. The 2.3 liter engine, named Dura-built 140, received improved cooling and durability refinements. The chassis received the Monza's upgraded components including the box-section front cross-member, larger rear brakes, and torque-arm rear suspension which replaced the four-link design. The body received extensive anti-rust improvements including galvanized fenders and rocker panels. New models introduced were the GT Estate wagon, the Cabriolet Notchback with a half vinyl roof with opera windows, similar to the Monza Towne Coupe, and a limited edition Nomad Wagon featuring restyled side windows. New options included a Borg Warner five-speed manual overdrive transmission and a houndstooth type seat trim named "sport cloth" for an additional charge of $18. In January, a "Sky-Roof" with tinted reflectorized sliding glass and 8-track tape player options were added. The Cosworth was offered in eight additional exterior and two additional interior colors mid-year, but was canceled in July after only 1,446 1976 models.

1977 models were carried over from 1976 with a few revisions. The Notchback was renamed Coupe. The Dura-built 140 engine received a pulse-air manifold injection system to meet the more strict 1977 Federal emission standards. A similar system secured the Cosworth engine EPA certificate in 1975. The one-barrel version of the engine was dropped, as was the three-speed manual transmission. Interiors received a color-keyed steering column, steering wheel, instrument cluster face, and parking brake cover. A color-keyed full console was a new option. GTs received two appearence variations - the new one featuring a blacked-out theme to exterior moldings (lower moldings deleted), black sport mirrors and wheels, bold Vega GT side striping and rear Vega GT I.D.

ProductionEdit

Total Vega production was 1,966,157 including 3,508 Cosworth Vegas. At its peak, production was 2,400 units per day. The majority were built in the United States at Lordstown Assembly in Lordstown, Ohio. In 1973–1974, Vegas were also built at the GM of Canada plant Sainte-Thérèse Assembly in Quebec.
Collectible Automobile said, "One thing that helped the Vega sell was its timing. It debuted in 1971. Then in late 1973, the first big international fuel crunch hit, with small, thrifty, American-made cars suddenly in great demand. The 1973-74 Oil embargo, perhaps more than any other factor, boosted the Vega's fortunes."

Year Notchback Hatchback Kammback Panel Del. Cosworth Total
1971 58,800 168,300 42,800 7,800 277,700
1972 55,800 262,700 72,000 4,114 394,592
1973 n/a n/a n/a n/a 395,792
1974 63,591 271,682 113,326 4,287 452,886
1975 35,143 112,912 56,133 1,525 2,061 206,239
1976 27,619 77,409 46,114 1,446 160,523
1977 12,365 37,395 25,181 78,402
1,966,157

note: 1973 model breakdown N/A

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