1972 Chevrolet Vega GT DOHC 16-valve 120 hp 2.0L I4 from Albania


Way too fast!


Rear wheel hop, solved by welding steel plate under gas tank.

Opel transmission replaced with later Borg Warner model.

General Comments:

1972 Chevrolet Vega GT Hatchback, DOHC 16-valve 120 hp 2.0L I4 engine, 4 speed manual Opel transmission, 10,000 RPM tachometer, 140 MPH speedometer. This car was way too fast; factory stock it would blow other cars off at red lights. Interesting history: Purchased from a returning sailor and had lots of difficulty titling it. Vehicle was originally purchased from a dealer (in Virginia) who had special ordered it from the factory. It was Orange Red, but without GT standard black racing stripe; this was added later. Original owner came home from sea, decided it didn't handle well in the Midwest snow, and sold it. Never was able to get the title, and only upon next sale was the problem discovered. Vehicle was a Dealer demonstrator; never intended to be sold to the public. Unbeknownst to the 1st or 2nd owner, had early version of the Cosworth engine factory installed. Eventually sold to a racing club and converted to Pro Stock.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 4th January, 2007

1972 Chevrolet Vega GT 140cid 4 cylinder from North America


An Oddity


This early model Vega utilized an aluminum Opel transmission notorious for failure. This was eventually replace with a Borg Warner transmission after the second OEM replacement.

The motor was designed with an aluminum block and cast iron head. The block was of high silica content aluminum. It was intended to provide a surface hard enough for the rings to seal against without the added cost of steel sleeves. This design proved to be the little motors downfall. The cylinder rings quickly failed resulting in lowered compression and oil consumption. General Motors provided installation of steel sleeves for those seeking repair to avoid a complete recall. The motors also failed to maintain proper head gasket seal beyond 80,000 miles due to the dissimilar expansion and contraction rates of iron and aluminum. After 250,000 miles and two head gaskets the motor was finally scrapped for metal salvage. The aluminum was corroding away due to electrolysis caused by the dissimilar metals.

General Comments:

The motor performed well with a standard engine rebuild and the addition of performance camshaft.

The car is extremely light and handling very neutral without excessive under or over steer.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th March, 2003

11th Apr 2004, 17:42

Dissimilar metals do not cause electrolysis! maybe you mean galvanic corrosion.

10th Jul 2005, 13:58

The Vega was a classic case being a good car from a design standpoint to being a bad car due to poor quality and workmanship.

22nd Nov 2005, 19:49

The 2300cc engine was definitely a lesson learned for General Motors, while it was a good start with an overhead cam and aluminum block, the lack of sleeves to line the cylinder walls was an unfortunate omission. GM as much as admitted to that late in the engine's production run by installing sleeves in the engine and renaming it the "Durabuilt" engine. However by that time, the marketing damage was definitely done.

When the Chevy Citation came out in 1979, great lengths were made to make it known that the 2.5L "Iron Duke" was its base engine. The 2.5L was a gem of a motor with legendary durability and aluminum composite in engine blocks became a bad word.

Metallurgy has come a long way in the past 30 years, aluminum is back at least in cylinder heads and the introduction of DEX-Cool has helped with the deterioration problem. GM now builds pretty decent small cars, and the Vega in its own manner probably cleared the way for this to happen.

9th Feb 2013, 18:17

I bought the 1972 Vega, and this car was trouble from the start. It was in the shop more than it was on the road. The engine blew up at 30,336 miles to where it could not be rebuilt, and Chevy let me eat it because it was out of warranty. I guess they were happy to rid themselves of it.

Chevy has made more throw away cars than all the auto producers put together, yet it is amazing to me that people still but their junk. They are ahead of everybody else in body design, I will give them that. Don't get me started on their trucks.

Sorry, but I give Chevy an F for screwing over the public. The Vega was only one in a multitude of junkers not worthy of selling.


10th Feb 2013, 14:56

And yet I have had zero issues with the bulletproof LS engines in modern Corvettes. I know of a 1998 Corvette with 190k on it. Outstanding engines!

10th Feb 2013, 18:23

My family owned one of the later Vega GT's equipped with the Dura-built engine. It came with a then-unheard-of 100,000 mile warranty. It was an awesome car and made well beyond 100,000 miles without a hint of any problems of any kind. The Vega was one of the most beautiful small cars of its day, and from '74 on they were very reliable.

1972 Chevrolet Vega GT 140ci gas from North America


Worst car I have ever owned


It would be easier to state what had not gone wrong on the car. That would be the radiator cap. Everything else in the engine compartment had to be replaced at least once. After a while I had to do all the work myself, just to reduce the cost, and install non OEM parts to get better longevity.

Engine block replaced at 10,000 miles due to scored cylinders.

Head replaced several times due to cracked valve seats, and hardened valve guide seals.

Alternator had the screws come out and fall into two halves.

Due to factory defects, the front fenders would perforate from rust.

Defects in the design of the rims would cause the tires to fall off the rims is the air pressure were two pounds low.

There was no way to drain the radiator. No valve on the radiator, the only way was to pull a lower hose, which was located over a chassis strut and would spill fluid everywhere.

General Comments:

I could tune the car to be quick, and competitive with a Corvette of the same vintage. However, it would not last long.

All the stories on recalls and poor construction are true.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 11th January, 2002

27th Jan 2002, 15:10

I know what you're talking about. I had a Vega also and it was the worst car I ever owned. The motor would die and not start back up leaving me stranded. The car got horrible gas mileage compared to the Volkswagen Beetle I had before. There are many other problems that escape my mind since it was so long ago.