Wednesday, March 12, 2014

5k: Track Rat: 1974 Chevrolet Vega Cosworth Twin-Cam

DT commenter and Fiat owner PeteL summed up the Datsun B210 vintage racer featured yesterday nicely when he said: "That is a lot of kit and history (key for vintage acceptance) for $2600 and an easy freshening of the bottom end. The parts and fab work are 10x the selling"  If you still want to experience cheap vintage racing, but perhaps are looking for something with a little more vroom-vroom to go with the zoom-zoom, this next feature should perk you up.  Find this 1974 Chevrolet Vega Cosworth Twin-Cam Race Car currently bidding for $2,750 reserve-not-met with 2 days to go, located in Beaverton, OR on ebay.

The Vega was supposed to be a world changing product for GM.  The design team was headed up by James G. Musser, Jr, known for his work on the Camaro, Chevy small block V8 and turbo-hydramatic transmission.  The Vega employed a large amount of technology including an aluminum alloy engine and a performance version of Vega was intially planned to be a rotary engine.  GM went as far as to build several RC2-206 Wankel powered Vegas, but fuel economy and durability concerns shelved the twin-rotor design. The backup performance option used a Cosworth twin-cam engine for a few more ponies and it was sold in limited quantities in 1975-76.

From the factory, the twin-cam engine put out a pathetic 110 horsepower due to emissions, reliability and driveability concerns.  Luckily, much more power is available by letting the 2.0 liter inline-4 breathe a bit and a racing version should be at least 200 horsepower, if not 250.

If the first thing you think when you see this is "where do I put my latte"...then perhaps this car isn't for you.  This is a full out race car, and while the car does have a VIN, chances of getting it registered for the street are dubious because some where along the way the dash vin tag has been cut out.  Seriously though, I'd drive this every day to work.

See a better classic that is almost cheap enough for a 24 Hrs of LeMons or GRM Challenge race?


  1. If it goes at the near current price, Jay and Phil may only give you about a hundred penalty laps should you bring this to a LeMons race. I certainly paid more for my crapcan and haven't gotten laps for years now. The Vega's cage might be a problem for LeMons, though; more pics of it would be required before knowing for sure. A ridiculous steal at its current bid, regardless.

  2. The story on the Cosworth Vega engine, as I remember it was that initially it made 190 hp and was detuned down to 150 for production. However, an edict from up high at GM warned that the engine could not have any chance of failure given the original Vega's engines issues. So the Cosworth Vegas engine was put on a dyno and run flat-out for 90 some odd hours. To achieve that the engine was detuned to 110 hp. It was later developed independently to 230 hp for different forms of racing but without any factory support it never became viable. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  3. Cosworth Engineering was getting more than 230 but the engine blocks would crack... Chevy did make a limited run of heavy duty blocks with extra webbing but the real trouble was the free standing bores which meant no deck to maintain engine integrity. Also Chevy used a shorter 5.7 inch rod which meant the side loads on the cylinder bores was increased and coupled with the free standing bore design, meant the bores would deform under load, hence the cracking of the blocks. The motor was run in Nascar's Baby Grand Series and the solution used was to fill the water jacket with sand up to about an inch below the top of the bores, then fill the rest with aluminum epoxy and mill the deck flat after draining off the sand... hence creating a deck surface. I was going to try that and also run longer 6" rods from the V8's... even went so far as getting custom pistons made that relocated the piston pin higher to accommodate the longer rod length. The head was a thing of beauty. The car pictured was mine... began life as a 74 Vega GT which I drove on street and slaloms and eventually the race track and competed briefly in the IMSA RS series. Weight was just over 2,000 lbs and with massive changes to the suspension, generated 1.2 G's on a 100 foot dia skidpad. A wonderful car and I miss her but sold her off to get an SCCA Spec Racer back in 86 which also served me well... still I wonder what that Cosworth motor I had been building could have pumped out... I always believed I could get 260 at least on race gas... the roll cage was build by Autopower in San Diego to my design, picking up suspension points front and rear. I expected to feel a big difference in body stiffness since the cage was very well triangulated, however after all of the work and expense I was disappointed not to be able to notice any changes to the handling or feel... just more weight... it was comforting however to have that cage around me at Riverside on the long straight. The other problem the car had was the G forces it could generate both laterally and under braking played hell with the lubrication system. The car really needed a dry sump to solve issue. Wherever she is... I hope she is doing well and the new owners have as much fun driving her as I did.


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