The Chevrolet Vega seemed like the right car at the right time, but as you'll learn in this article, time would quickly pass it by.

Discover how the Chevrolet Vega launched for 1971 as Chevy's answer to not only the Ford Pinto but for the herd of subcompact imports infiltrating American garages from coast to coast.


1971 Chevrolet Vega Kammback wagon, front view
The Chevrolet Vega could be considered a good-looking
car with fatal flaws. This 1971 Chevrolet Vega Kammback
wagon was no exception. See more pictures of classic cars.


Here was a small car as stylish as any, with two-door coupe, notchback, and wagon body styles to choose from, a modern overhead-cam four-cylinder engine, and a price that started at a friendly $2,090.

Sale were terrific, hovering around 400,000 through 1974. But after that, Vega's propensity to rust and a deserved reputation for poor engine reliability began to catch up with it.

Chevy fought back for 1975 with the spunky Chevrolet Cosworth Vega and its high-tech twin-cam four-cylinder, but to little avail.

Vega was always rear-wheel drive, and subcompact buyers were increasingly looking to the better space efficiencies of front-wheel-drive rivals. Chevy itself undercut Vega demand with the 1975 introduction of the swoopier-looking (but still rear-wheel-drive) Chevrolet Monza.

Chevrolet Vega sales dipped to 160,000 for 1976, and then to just 78,000 for its swan-song season of 1977. Learn more about this fascinating story of success and failure in the pages that follow.

1974 Chevrolet Vega with Spirit of America trim package
This 1974 Chevrolet Vega featured the
Spirit of America trim package.


For more picture-packed articles about Chevys and other great cars, see:
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  • Consumer Guide Used Car Search: In the market for a used Chevy or virtually any other pre-owned vehicle? Check out these reports, which include safety recalls and trouble spots.