1972 V8 Vega GT
Viva Lost Vegas!!!
These few pics below pay homage to an often forgotten piece of automotive Americana, the V8 Vega. Pictured here is a classic 1972 Chevrolet Vega GT. This car is powered by an original 1970 LT-1 350/370hp small block V8, while the remainder of the drive train is comprised of a GM TH350 transmission mated to a Chevrolet 12 bolt rear differential with 4.10 gears.
The body of this Vega GT is in great shape and still wears it’s original code 75 Red paint and original black deluxe interior. Other “Day 2″ features include 5 lug spindle conversion with 15” Cragar s/s rims and Good Year Polyglas GT tires. Rounding out the mods are vintage Stewart Warner Green Line gauges and a Hurst Auto Stick II shifter.
Flashback To The 70’s
The formula was a simple one. Start with a light weight Vega body and add a potent small block Chevy V8 to create an incredible power to weight ratio. The early Vega models were particularly light, tipping the scales at a mere 2200 lbs. Add the weight of the LT-1 engine and supporting hardware, and you were now at 2700lbs, still 500lbs. less than an LT-1 powered Corvette and nearly 800lbs. less than an LT-1 equipped Z28.
During the 1970’s thousands of Chevy Vegas were treated to popular V8 engine swaps very similar to this one. Performing this swap made the V8 Vega very quick on the street while paying you back daily with miles of smiles. With 10lbs. of fun stuffed into a 5 lb. bag, it’s easy to understand why so many of these original street freaks are no longer with us today. In fact clean examples are becoming exceedingly rare and replacement parts scare too. And it’s highly unlikely any reproduction parts for the Chevy Vega will hit the market anytime soon, if ever.
Interesting Note: This Vega does wear unique metal badges on both front fenders as well as the tail light panel. They read LT-1 in chrome letters on a black pebble grain background. As we all know, the LT-1 engine was available in the Corvette and the Z28 from 1970-1972 as well as a small number of Novas. As to the engine call-outs, the Corvette wore LT-1 decals on the hood. The Z28 had no LT-1 badging, and the Yenko cars wore LT-1 decals too. So no metal LT-1 badges from GM were ever used on production LT-1 cars.
When asked about the origin of the fender emblems, the car owner says these emblems were acquired from Yenko Chevrolet during the early 70’s. He also adds that they were originally destined to be installed on the glove box doors of all Yenko Deuces, but the idea was scrapped at the last minute. This would explain the “interior” pebble grain look of the emblem. These badges are also unique in that they read LT dash 1 signifying the early high performance small block, not LT1 which was used during the mid 90’s. Is this a true story or just folk lore, we may never know…
Fun Fact: Factory V8 power? Not quite, but a few Chevy dealers like Scuncio and Motion Performance did perform a small number of these conversions in house. Starting with a brand new Vega, most transplants were performed using 1970 LT-1 high compression crate engines and 12 bolt rears. Other upgrades included 5 lug spindles and heavy duty coil springs. Day 2 add-ons like aftermarket tachometers, wheels, traction bars and gauges could also be had. These newly re-powered pocket rockets were then sold to the public right off the showroom floor. However this bonanza was very short lived as the federal government moved quickly to put a stop to it, and by 1974 the party was over. Today, documented dealer prepped V8 Vegas are incredibly rare and virtually nonexistent.
Lost To Time
Unfortunately only a small number of the 2 million Vegas built still exist today. Most remaining examples can be seen at local drag strips faithfully serving as bracket racers or NHRA Super Gas cars. Now back-halved and gutted, it’s likely been decades since any of these Vegas have seen any real street duty. I for one miss the days when simple hot rods like 60’s muscle cars and V8 Vegas like this one prowled the streets nightly.
Feature Car: This time capsule of American 70’s hot-rodding owes it’s existence to extreme low mileage and indoor storage for nearly it’s entire life. Thanks for reading.