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Chevrolet Vega

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Vega
Vehicle Model

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Wikipedia: Chevrolet Vega

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A car produced by Chevrolet from 1971-1977.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Chevrolet Vega page on 29 September 2018, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Chevrolet Vega is a subcompact automobile that was manufactured and marketed by GM's Chevrolet subdivision from 1970 to 1977. Available in two-door hatchback, notchback, wagon, and panel delivery body styles, all models were powered by an inline four-cylinder engine with a lightweight, aluminum alloy cylinder block. Variants included the Cosworth Vega, a short-lived limited-production performance model, introduced in March 1975.

The Vega received praise and awards at its introduction, including 1971 Motor Trend Car of the Year. Subsequently the car became widely known for a range of problems related to its engineering, reliability, safety, propensity to rust, and engine durability. Despite a series of recalls and design upgrades, the Vega's problems tarnished both its own as well as General Motors' reputation. Production ended with the 1977 model year.

The name "vega" derives from the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. It forms one corner of the Summer Triangle.

Chevrolet and Pontiac divisions worked separately on small cars in the early and mid 1960s. Ed Cole, GM's executive vice-president of operating staffs, working on his own small-car project with corporate engineering and design staffs, presented the program to GM's president in 1967. GM chose Cole's version over proposals from Chevrolet and Pontiac, and gave the car to Chevrolet to sell. Corporate management made the decisions to enter the small car market and to develop the car itself.

In 1968, GM chairman James Roche announced GM would produce the new car in the U.S. in two years. Ed Cole was chief engineer and Bill Mitchell, vice-president of design staff, was chief stylist. Cole wanted a world-beater in showrooms in 24 months. A GM design team was set up, headed by James G. Musser Jr. who had helped develop the Chevy II, the Camaro, the Chevrolet small-block V8 engines, and the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. Musser said, "This was the first vehicle where one person was in charge," and that his team "did the entire vehicle." As GM president, Cole oversaw the car's genesis and met the projected schedule.

The Vega was conceived in 1968 to utilize newly developed all-aluminum die-cast engine block technology – the first sand-cast aluminum blocks had preceded the decision to build the car by two years. A relatively large displacement engine with good low- speed torque was decided on, with gear ratios for low engine rpm to achieve fuel economy. Engine testing totalled 6,000,000 miles. A pre-test engine was installed in a Fiat 124 sedan for development of the aluminum block, while several 1968 Opel sedans were used for drive train development

Chevrolet instituted a new management program, the car line management technique, to produce the all-new car in two years. The chief vehicle engineer had overall charge of the program. Fifty engineers, dedicated to the design of the entire car, were divided into groups: body, power train, chassis design, product assurance, and pleasability. The latter would check continuously on the vehicles on the assembly line, with computers in another program monitoring quality control of every vehicle built. Fisher Body engineers and draftsmen moved in with the Vega personnel.

In October 1968, there was one body style (the "11" style notchback sedan), one engine, one transmission (MB1 Torque-Drive manually shifted two-speed automatic), one base trim level, a bench seat, molded rubber floor covering, no glove box or headliner and no air-conditioning (ventilation was through the upper dash from the wiper plenum). As the market changed, so did the car in development.

In December 1968, hatchback, wagon, and panel delivery styles were added; also floor-level ventilation, and an optional performance engine ("L-11" two-barrel) which, predicted as 20% of production, accounted for 75%. Bucket seats were standard. Hatchback and wagon received carpeting and headliners. Optional air conditioning, predicted as 10% of production, rose to 45%.

In February 1969, Opel three- and four-speed transmissions (three-speed standard, others optional); Powerglide were added (now four transmissions); mechanical fuel pump replaced by in-tank electric pump (making this the first GM product with an in tank fuel pump prior to the adoption of fuel injection); power steering option; base "11" style notchback trim upgraded to match hatchback and wagon carpet and headliner.

In April 1969, the car gained gauge-pack cluster, HD suspension, wider tires; adjustable seat back (45% of production); bumpers restyled, lower valance panels added; swing-out quarter window option (10% of production).

In July 1969, an electrically heated backlite option (10% of production); "GT" package, $325.00 extra (35% of production); bright window-frame and roof drip moldings added to hatchback and wagon.

This is essentially how the car launched as a 1971 model. Production began on June 26, 1970. After the national GM strike (September to November 1970), bright roof drip moldings were added to the base "11" notchback, with moldings sent to dealers to update units already in the field.

Cars magazine said in 1974 that in the rush to introduce the car with other 1971 models "[t]ests which should have been at the proving grounds were performed by customers, necessitating numerous piecemeal "fixes" by dealers. Chevrolet's "bright star" received an enduring black eye despite a continuing development program which eventually alleviated most of these initial shortcomings."


Video

1971 Chevrolet Impala into 1971 Chevrolet Vega (34.78 mph)
Duration: 9:05
February 15, 1978
Development of a Test Methodology for Evaluating Crash Compatibility and Aggressiveness
Download video of NHTSA NCAP #00011: 1975 Plymouth Fury-to-Fixed Test Device - 267MB


Photographs

1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
4th Annual Grass Lake PTO "Cars for Kids" Classic & Hot Rod Show
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 3,621KB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
4th Annual Grass Lake PTO "Cars for Kids" Classic & Hot Rod Show
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 3,174KB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
4th Annual Grass Lake PTO "Cars for Kids" Classic & Hot Rod Show
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 2,743KB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
4th Annual Grass Lake PTO "Cars for Kids" Classic & Hot Rod Show
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 3,463KB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
4th Annual Grass Lake PTO "Cars for Kids" Classic & Hot Rod Show
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 3,110KB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
4th Annual Grass Lake PTO "Cars for Kids" Classic & Hot Rod Show
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 3,074KB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
4th Annual Grass Lake PTO "Cars for Kids" Classic & Hot Rod Show
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 3,237KB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
4th Annual Grass Lake PTO "Cars for Kids" Classic & Hot Rod Show
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 3,504KB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
4th Annual Grass Lake PTO "Cars for Kids" Classic & Hot Rod Show
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 2,638KB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
4th Annual Grass Lake PTO "Cars for Kids" Classic & Hot Rod Show
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 3,043KB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
Miller's Dog N Suds Cruise Night:  June 2, 2008 in Ingleside, Illinois
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 1.6MB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
Miller's Dog N Suds Cruise Night:  June 2, 2008 in Ingleside, Illinois
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 2.3MB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
Miller's Dog N Suds Cruise Night:  June 2, 2008 in Ingleside, Illinois
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 2.3MB
1973 Chevrolet Vega Modified 1973
"Mighty Mouse"

350 cu. in. V8
Photo ©2009 Bill Crittenden
Miller's Dog N Suds Cruise Night:  June 2, 2008 in Ingleside, Illinois
View photo of Modified 1973 Chevrolet Vega - 2.3MB
Baldwin Motion Super Vega Model Baldwin Motion Super Vega
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
2010 Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals Model Car Show
November 21, 2010
View photo of Baldwin Motion Super Vega Model - 2,610KB
Baldwin Motion Super Vega Model Baldwin Motion Super Vega
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
2010 Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals Model Car Show
November 21, 2010
View photo of Baldwin Motion Super Vega Model - 2,426KB
Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car Rindt Racing/Keith Rindt Drag Race Car
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car - 3,572KB
Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car Rindt Racing/Keith Rindt Drag Race Car
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car - 3,660KB
Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car Rindt Racing/Keith Rindt Drag Race Car
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car - 3,097KB
Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car Rindt Racing/Keith Rindt Drag Race Car
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car - 3,918KB
Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car Rindt Racing/Keith Rindt Drag Race Car
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car - 3,255KB
Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car Rindt Racing/Keith Rindt Drag Race Car
Photo ©2008 Bill Crittenden
Johnsburg Car and Bike Show
View photo of Chevrolet Vega Keith Rindt Drag Race Car - 2,737KB
Chevrolet Vega Vegarant Model Car Built by Doug DeMars
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
March 2010 Meeting of C.A.R.S. in Miniature
View photo of Chevrolet Vega Vegarant Model Car - 3,312KB
Chevrolet Vega Vegarant Model Car Built by Doug DeMars
Photo ©2010 Bill Crittenden
March 2010 Meeting of C.A.R.S. in Miniature
View photo of Chevrolet Vega Vegarant Model Car - 3,261KB


Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
March 1979Development of a Test Methodology for Evaluating Crash Compatibility and Aggressiveness
Test Report 4: 1975 Plymouth Fury-to-NHTSA Test Device
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 8.2MB - 226 pages


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
10 September 2009Consequential, Import Fighting Chevy Vega, TheAndy Zain


Merchandise

Type & Item #NameDetails
Die Cast - American Muscle 370801972 Chevy Vega Coupe1:18 scale, red
Die Cast - Hot Wheels N4026-A919HCustom V8 Vega2009 New Models, small scale, yellow w/black stripes


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