One Vega for the price of two!
Ten years after Chevrolet’s first import fighter was introduced, the fall of 1970 saw another one about to hit the market – and the similarities between the two star-crossed compacts were more than coincidence. History was about to repeat itself, and apparently General Motors had not learned a thing about coming to market with a new platform, new engine, and new technology simultaneously. The car was the 1971 Chevrolet Vega, and it seemed to be progressing down the same path as Chevrolet’s first import fighter, the Corvair.
Both Import fighters were equipped with a brand-new powerplant, not shared with any other line, and with an engine block constructed primarily of an aluminum alloy. The first all-aluminum block, the Vega engine had been developed with the help of Renyolds Aluminum. Its fatal flaw could be traced directly to the absence of cylinder liners: Reynolds engineers had theorized the high-silicon-content alloy would wear at the same rate as steel. Unfortunately, they were out of spec at 40,000 to 50,000 miles, something no one knew when the cars were introduced.
But enough about the standard Vega. It seems that Chevrolet general manager John Z DeLorean (yes, that John DeLorean) pushed his staff to develop a performance version of the Vega for use as a “Halo” variant. This is where Cosworth Engineering came in, led by the dynamic Kieth Duckworth. DeLorean thought the new engine would be a great motor for a full-fledged racing version, so in 1970, both firms went into development. With Vega sales below expectations, GM needed something positive about the car to help prop up sales.
The target was SCCA Production B class, in which the new Vega Twin Cam would compete with the BMW 2002, the Alfa Romeo GTA, and others. Computer models suggest that the Chevy would be competitive because it actually weighed less than most of the competitors, and would have a more powerful engine.
If you want to read more about the Cosworth Vega, and learn why Cosworth licensed the head design to GM, what happens to a Vega block when you try and coax 290 HP from it, find out why DeLorean changed the colors from Silver to Black, and to discover why this Vega was the second most expensive Chevrolet when introduced, you will have to go to the Chevy Enthusiast Site, and follow this link.