If there was an unofficial car of motor racing championship teams, the CART contingent that ran Indycar races in the last decades of the 20th century was the Chevrolet Cosworth Vega.
The Cosworth-upgraded economy sedans were not used on oval tracks and road courses—at least not in official competition—but they were the choice of personal transport for many CART race-day officials.
While there was nothing really special about the mid-’70s Chevy Vega, for the 1975 and 1976 model years Chevrolet fitted just over 3,500 Vegas with alloy 4-cylinder engines. 2.0-litre aluminum cylinder topped with a double overhead camshaft. heads designed by Cosworth Engineering, the British company famous for its work on racing engines.
In full racing gear, including dry sump lubrication and used in purpose-built racing chassis for Chevron and Lola, the engines could produce up to 260 horsepower. In guise of the Z09 Cosworth Vega models, the engines were rated at 110 horsepower (with 8.0:1 compression). That was 40 ponies more than the standard Vega’s 2.3-liter 4-cylinder.
The resulting cars cost about twice the price of the standard Vega, pushing them to within $1,000 of the base price of the 1975 Corvette. But they were light and fast, and with manual transmissions. , they were a lot of fun to ride.
One of these cars, a 1976 Chevy Cosworth Vega, (click link to see ad), the 2,315th of 3,508 produced, is Pick of the Day on ClassicCars.com, where it is advertised by its private seller in Manistee, Michigan.
The seller reports that the car is equipped with Bendix electronic fuel injection and a Borg-Warner 5-speed manual transmission.
“The previous owner spent a year and a half restoring the vehicle after it sat in a garage in Cincinnati for 33 years,” the seller shares. “All components have been rebuilt, with original and period equivalent parts used in the majority of the build.
“Paint and graphics are described as original. Good records go back to the 2nd owner in 1977 and suggest the 44,000 miles listed are accurate.
These graphics include gold stripes and wheels, the latter fitted with vintage BFGoodrich T/A tires. As far as the seller is aware, the black paintwork is original but has been sanded and compounded, “appearing in good condition in photographs with some imperfections noted due to age”.
During reconditioning, the car received a new grille and trim and a vintage IECO front air dam, the seller says.
“The interior is clean with new carpet, window seals and a new hatch seal. The black upholstery shows little wear, with the door panels and dashboard appearing in equally nice condition. that the factory Delco AM/FM/8 track is working properly.
The seller notes that the cylinder block was sleeved and J&E forgot the aluminum pistons with a 10.5:1 compression ratio. The redesign included 4.10:1 gearing and a limited-slip differential. The 1975 low restriction exhaust is in place “with the catalytic converters removed”.
The car lacks air conditioning, power steering or power brakes. But it has new brake lines, rear wheel cylinders, pads, shoes, master cylinder, reconditioned front calipers and surfaced rotors. It also received new suspension hardware, including vintage Koni shocks.
In other words, the car has undergone many of the same modifications that CART officials made to their Cosworth Vegas.
The car is offered for $22,500. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Take the day.