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Junkyard Cosworth Vega Twin Cam

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Junkyard Cosworth Vega Twin Cam

1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega fender emblem1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega fender emblem

1 of 13The Cosworth was the best factory-built Vega.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega LH rear view1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega LH rear view

2 of 13This one has the look of a long-abandoned project car that sat outdoors for decades.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega inteior1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega inteior

3 of 13Or maybe it’s a long-abandoned parts car that sat outdoors for decades. No matter, it will be crushed, shredded, and fed back into the global scrap-metal markets soon.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega steering column1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega steering column

4 of 13Pretty much the entire dash is gone.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega engine1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega engine

5 of 13Some, but not all, of the Cosworth head and induction system remains.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega front view1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega front view

6 of 13The Vega had an impossible-to-overcome reputation for shoddy quality by this time, which cut into Cosworth sales.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega RH front view1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega RH front view

7 of 13The big 5mph crash bumpers didn’t do the design any favors.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega hood1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega hood

8 of 13The Cosworth Vega engine made 110 horsepower, which sounds weak today but was considered pretty hot in a year when the straight-six in the Datsun 280Z made just 149 horses.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega RH rear view1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega RH rear view

9 of 13Only 1,447 Cosworth Vegas were made for the 1976 model year. This is the second one I’ve seen in a junkyard in recent years.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega rear view1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega rear view

10 of 13Worth restoring? Maybe, although it’s got to be cheaper in the long run to start with a more solid example.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega rear emblem1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega rear emblem

11 of 13The General didn’t build another DOHC four-cylinder engine this screamy until the Olds Quad 4 of the 1980s.Photo by Murilee Martin
1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega decklid rust1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega decklid rust

12 of 13In California, cars rust top-down, where water pools during the wet winters.Photo by Murilee Martin

1983 Honda Civic S in Colorado wrecking yard

Next Gallery: Junkyard Find 1983 Honda Civic S »

1983 Honda Civic S in Colorado wrecking yard

13 of 13Next Gallery: Junkyard Find 1983 Honda Civic S&nbsp

The Cosworth Twin Cam was the only Vega worth discussing, but this one couldn’t find a forever home

The Chevrolet Vega sold like crazy, with more than two million built (not to mention close to another million Monzas and badge-engineered siblings, which were based on the Vega platform), but GM’s sporty-looking economy car developed a well-earned reputation for shoddy build quality and problems that included catastrophic engine overheating and sugar-cube-in-hot-water-grade body corrosion. Still, there was a bright spot in the Vega universe: the Cosworth Vega!

1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega LH front view

I see maybe one Vega every few years in junkyards these days, so a genuine Cosworth Vega is off-the-charts rare. Photo by Murilee Martin

The Vega and its relatives used to be found in huge numbers in every wrecking yard in North America, but just about all of them were crushed by the early 1990s. I spend a lot of time in junkyards and these days I might see a Vega or Monza/Starfire/Skyhawk/Astre every couple of years at most. That makes this faded, much-weathered ’76 Cosworth Vega, which I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area yard a few days ago, an incredibly rare find— even rarer than a Ford Tempo AWD or Honda Civic S. Just 3,508 Cosworth Vegas were built, for the 1975 and 1976 model years only.

Cosworth Vega cylinder head

A few of the pieces have left, however the engine continues to be recognizable like a genuine Cosworth DOHC 122. Photo by Murilee Martin

The 122-cubic-inch Cosworth Vega engine made 110 horsepower, versus an unhappy 70 horses for that 140-cubic-inch SOHC engine within the ordinary Vega. That gave the Cosworth Vega an electrical-to-weight ratio close to 23 lb/hp. Match it up towards the 19 lb/hp you receive within the not-exactly-known-for-speed 2016 Kia Rio and you may understand why the Malaise Era was this type of gloomy here we are at vehicle enthusiasts. Still, getting come of driving age in early 1980s, I drove and labored on the majority of Vegas (which, combined with the Ford Pinto, were one of the most easily available cheap hoopties in that time), and also the Cosworth was the only person considered desirable at that time.

 

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