1971 Chevy Vega Longevity in 1970s

Its 1971 and your looking for a car to commute to your job 50 miles one way (before people start, yes some people had commutes like that back in the 70s, at least around here).

Being born a tried and true Chevy man and liking the resemblance to the Camaro, you buy the new technologically advanced Chevy Vega. There’s already rumblings about the engine being no good, it has no cylinder liners! Thankfully due to our good friend science, we don’t need such things. Due to tight manufacturing tolerances and science we no longer need lined bores.

We are entering the 1970s, a place filled with rapidly evolving technology and new ideas.

So my question is this. Following all manufacturer maintenance regulations for my new 1971 Chevy Vega, how long will this new bus last me? Id like to think I could get 150k out of it but have told that was impossible.

Back in the 1980s and into the 90s there were still plenty of robust Chevy Vegas running around to be had, but I could never afford one. I never had the chance to enjoy a new Vega back then and was looking for feedback from someone who did,

Very few of those had the original aluminum block engines in them.


My question is how many miles could one get on an original Vega engine, I refuse to believe they were that bad.

I don’t think the word ’ robust ’ belongs in that sentence . Between the engine failures and the rust problems they deserve to be on the list of terrible vehicles.


Given that cast iron engines of that era typically didn’t last 150k, the Vega sure wouldn’t (on average). Could you be one of the 1% lucky ones and get it to last that long? Sure, but its design flaws would make me bet against you.


Well if they were such terrible cars they wouldn’t have been on the road into the 80s. They had a lofty goal when designing the Vega. If they would have went with perfectly serviceable front drum brakes vs the standard disc, and not went with the foolishly unnecessary electric fuel pump and used that money for a cylinder liner things may have went into the history books differently.

I hear how horrible these cars were, but no one can tell me how many mi les they were good for. 10k miles 45k, 100k?

It seems there was a ridiculous tall tale spun about just how bad these cars were and it got more ridiculous and inflated as the years went by.

In 2 years they sold a million Vegas. a million people couldn’t have been wrong. I believe they were just ahead of their time in some ways, and the first years that were available with the power glide transmission were the best if you wanted a bulletproof automatic.

With 50 years of hindsight in our favor I feel looking back that the Vega was a tremendous automobile.

Disk brakes are so much better than drum brakes period. And that has nothing to do with how long a vehicle runs . Sorry , but your memory is clouded .


IIRC, @MikeInNH owned one, so if I am correct about that recollection, he could easily answer all questions you might have about the Vega.

I probably shouldn’t predict anything in this regard, but somehow I doubt if @MikeInNH would agree with you.

Glad I wasn’t drinking my coffee when I read this! The '71-'75 Vega was terrible, and not just because of the engine (which burned oil quickly due to worn valve seals, overheated because of low oil and undersized cooling system, resulting in worn aluminum cylinders and blown head gaskets), the body was very prone to rust and the interior would fall apart soon after purchase.
Falling Star: The Checkered History of the Chevrolet Vega > Ate Up With Motor
The 10 Worst Cars GM Ever Built (jalopnik.com)


Had a friend had to replace the engine at 36k miles, 76k miles needed a new engine and he got rid of it.


To save weight, the Vega used an aluminum engine instead of cast iron. For strength, they impregnated silicon into the cylinder walls. Unfortunately, that silicon didn’t last, causing many of the cylinder walls to prematurely wear.

If you did see robust Chevy Vegas in the 90s, they very likely had cast iron sleeves put in them.


It was garbage.

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[quote=“Old-Days-Rick, post:7, topic:185132”]
In 2 years they sold a million Vegas. a million people couldn’t have been wrong.[/quote]

Not by the numbers I have found, only 2.01 million were even produced over its dismal 7 years of existence.


And yes a million people can be wrong. Look up how many flat-earthers there are around the globe.


GM developed nicasil cylinder plating the super slick and hard coating which made cylinder liners obselete!The tooling for the silicon aluminum alloy injection molding process alone cost over $150 million to develop, this was back in the 60s! Mercedes continued on with the tradition and made several engines without liners with great success.

This was the space-age and GM was doing space-age stuff

WheresRick Here. I’m not going to rehash this in another debate. We went over this years ago and I made my point. Drum brakes are superior in many ways, that’s why they are still used on semis! The difference is most Americans drive in a Binary manner, either on the gas or brake. They would smoke even the best drum brakes now a days. When you need to stop 80klbs you go with the real deal and that’s drum brakes,

A million Vegas in 2 1/2 years, click on the link in post 14;

“The one-millionth Vega was produced May 17, 1973. The Vega was among the top 10 best-selling American cars in 1974 with a model-year sales peak of 460,374.”


Well since Old Days Rick is actually Wheres Rick that explains the faulty memory about the Chevrolet Vaga .


Actually explains a lot of things.


Where’s @MikeInNH when we need him for an owner’s perspective?