The Chevrolet Vega is a much maligned little car (with good reason), but there was one bright spot: the remarkable Cosworth Vega, a limited-edition model that boasted a British-made performance engine.
I never expected to have a Vega for Pick of the Week, but the 1976 Cosworth Vega advertised in ClassicCars.com for sale in Deltona, Florida, sounds like a tasty survivor offered for the affordable price of $15,500. The car is in restored condition, the seller states, with a Creamsicle orange paint job.
The car is equipped with the desirable five-speed manual transmission and has apparently been a Florida car its entire life, sparing it the rigors of northern winters that notoriously caused Vegas to rust out.
Cosworth Engineering of England produced the hand-built 2.0-liter engines, which benefited from the company’s experience with racing engines. The twin-cam four banger produced 111 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque, which might not sound all that impressive these days, but with a curb weight of just 2,760 pounds, the Cosworth Vega could sprint from zero to 60 in 7.7 seconds, according to tests at the time.
The Cosworth Vega also received aggressive suspension tweaks, improved brakes and a special performance wheel-and-tire package. Contemporary road testers were impressed, several of them suggesting that this is what every Vega should have been like in the first place.
Notably, the Cosworth was the first Chevrolet passenger car with fuel injection, although the photos of this car’s engine show a pair of Weber side-draft carburetors. That aftermarket modification could help boost performance. The seller doesn’t reveal any other upgrades, but the Webers are a good sign of an engaged owner.
Cosworth Vegas are very rare. The cars were built for just two years, 1975-76, and only 3,508 of them were produced, compared with the run of ordinary Vegas during that time of more than 190,000. In 1976, just 1,447 Cosworth Vegas were made.
The sticking point was the price tag. In 1976, the list price topped $6,000, which was just several hundred dollars less than a new Corvette. With the Cosworth engine built overseas, they were expensive to produce. Only those performance enthusiasts who understood the exotic nature of these cars stepped up to buy.