1971 Chevrolet Vega Coupe.jpg

I do not know how Motor Trend picks its car of the year awards. I have questioned several of its picks. I do not think that the Chevrolet Volt deserved the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year Award. Yet, this is not the worst car to be named Motor Trend Car of the Year. In 1971, Motor Trend named the Chevorlet Vega its Car of the Year. Motor Trend also awarded the Vega the 1973 Car of the Year in the Economic Class. Car and Driver readers voted the Vega the best economic van in 1971, 1972, and 1973. In 1971, American Iron and Steel  gave the Vega an award for excellence in design in transportation equipment. My question is WHY? The Vega is one of the worst cars ever made. It was a rust bucket. This car suffered from several recalls and just was an overall terrible car. The cost for this miserable excuse for a car was $2,093. There is reason why this car is so cheap.

The Chevrolet Vega was in production from 1970 to 1977 and came in two-door notchback sedan, two-door hatchback, two-door wagon, and two-door panel delivery wagon. 2,154,434 Vegas were sold over its production run. It was one of many miserable subcompact cars built for the Chevrolet brand. It was built while GM Vice President John Delorean was general manager of Chevrolet. Delorean was responsible for promoting the car and he over saw the launch of the car. The Vega was just plagued with issues, Problems for the Chevrolet Vega start at its rust prevention. The Elpo process used by the Fisher Body Division did not work. The solutions used in the process did not flow into every recess or reach every panel of the car. This caused the car to rust where the Elpo solutions did not reach. Two recalls of the Vega were a result of issues with the 140 cubic inch engine used in early Vegas. There were concerns of backfire caused by the two-barrel carburetor and 130,000 Vegas fitted with the L-11 option were recalled for this issue. The second recall involved 350,000 Vegas that used the standard engine. There was a perceived risk that a component in the emission control system might fall into the throttle linkage, jamming it open. Also the car suffered from oil burning, the engine overheating, and the fuel tank leaking. The Vega was just a dreadful car.

The Chevrolet Vega was powered by three engine. The single barrel carburetor 2.3L (140 cubic inch) I4 engine produced 90 hp. The double barrel carburetor 2.3L I4 engine produced 115 hp. The Cosworth Vega was powered by a 2.0L I4 that produced 110 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque. The Cosworth Vega went from 0 to 60 mph in 12.3 seconds and reached a top speed of 112 mph. A normal Vega reached atop speed of 92 mph. The Vega was slow, sluggish and just a cheap rust bucket.

The Vega was just an automotive disaster. It was severely rust-prone. It had engine issues. It was slow and sluggish. The Vega was worth less than its retail price of $2,091. I still ask why it was Motor Trend’s 1971 Car of the Year. The was cheap and was easy on the eye. A Motor Trend writer wrote that the Vega looked hot. The Chevrolet Vega just outright sucked and Chevrolet still has not made a decent subcompact car since the Vega. The current Chevrolet subcompact, the Aveo, is one of the worst cars currently built by an American automotive company. I guess Chevrolet has not learned how to make a proper subcompact car. The Vega has gone down as one of the ten worst cars ever made.


Photo taken from the Chevrolet Vega Wikipedia Page

Originally written on July 16, 2011

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