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#26837 of 30871 Re: Low-mileage, original Vega GT [uplanderguy]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Nov 17, 2012 (11:15 am)
The Vega would have been a huge hit were it not for the crapola engine and horrendous labor problems at the plant that built them. Too bad they couldn't have hired the Germans to build it.
#26838 of 30871 Re: Low-mileage, original Vega GT [Mr_Shiftright]
Nov 17, 2012 (12:17 pm)
Although they had labor problems at Lordstown, when tooled for the Vega, it was regarded as the most automated auto assembly plant in the world. There was sabotage during some of the strikes (line speed was an issue), but I think more than 'fit', the problem was short-cut engineering and cost savings. By '75 or '76, they were considerably better, but too late.
As a teen back then, and from a Chevy family, I always wanted a '75 GT Kammback, red with the white side stripes, stick, and roof rack. Never happened.
Consumer Reports, I remember, showed a 'better than average' repair record for the one-year-old '71 Vega...before the negatives of engine cooling and body rust reared their ugly heads. I wish I knew what they gave the '71 in its subsequent years, but I don't recall.
Nov 17, 2012 (3:36 pm)
I just saw an old Ferrari in Champaign, Il today with historic New Jersey plates. I believe it was a 250, but not 100% positive. It was also odd the driver had a GPS unit hanging from the windshield. I can't imagine he drove it here from the east coast. I was able to roll my window down and hear that sweet italian engine note.
#26840 of 30871 Re: 60's Ferrari [dieselone]
Nov 18, 2012 (7:50 am)
Maybe they were in town for the Choking (I mean fighting) Illini game! Need to bring back Chief Illiniwek - wait, they stunk then too.
Nov 18, 2012 (9:48 am)
Saw an 80s Renault 9 on the Autobahn today, going SLOW, like road hazard slow. In Austria spotted an 80s vintage Espace still in use. Also saw a later W126 cruising along, nice to see it can still hold its own. American cars were just a couple pickups from the past 20 years.
Also on the 'bahn, both an Avantime and a VelSatis - big weird and French.
#26842 of 30871 Re: Low-mileage, original Vega GT [uplanderguy]
Nov 18, 2012 (1:14 pm)
"Although they had labor problems at Lordstown, when tooled for the Vega, it was regarded as the most automated auto assembly plant in the world. There was sabotage during some of the strikes (line speed was an issue), but I think more than 'fit', the problem was short-cut engineering and cost savings. By '75 or '76, they were considerably better, but too late. "
I completely agree.
GM took cost savings, if that's the correct phrase for what they did, to a completely new level. And, some of those "cost savings" had a major input/impact on the labor "issues" at the plant, which was, at the time the Vega came out, supposedly one of the most modern assembly lines of the time.
It's hard to take pride in your work when you see a lack of interest in the product coming from your employer...
#26843 of 30871 Re: Low-mileage, original Vega GT [busiris]
Nov 18, 2012 (1:49 pm)
Funny thing, the Vega was far and away the 'darling' of the car mags...and not just Motor Trend. The whole thing was long-term durability...or lack of it. I'd still be OK buying a later one I think, although a lot of people like the styling of the earlier ones better.
Since Lordstown was only 40 miles from where I grew up in NW PA (and only 40 miles from where I live now, to the west of the plant), I knew people who worked there during the Vega years. One bought two new ones over the years, and one bought a new '73 and drove it for 108K miles. The Fuller Brush Man in our town bought several new ones over the years, and continued to buy the cheapo Monzas that looked like Vegas afterwards. I mentioned here before that my grandparents bought the first '71 Vega our dealer got in, but theirs had so few miles by the time they stopped driving, they didn't experience the normal issues.
#26844 of 30871 Re: Low-mileage, original Vega GT [uplanderguy]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Nov 18, 2012 (3:17 pm)
Yeah but the plural of anecdote is....anecdotes....the plural isn't "evidence".
By and large, the Vega had a number of things inherently bad about it. Aside from the engine, which, if you were lucky, only proceeded to burn a lot of oil as the miles piled on, there was the question of rust---lots of rust. The Vega developed a reputation as a rust bucket within a year or two. Many front fenders were replaced.
Then there was the marginal cooling system--which only aggravated the engine problems. Once the car overheated, the pistons distorted, ate through the silica cylinder lining, and POOF---you had a 4-wheel mosquito fogger.
They sold a LOT of Vegas right off...I think about 1/4 million the first year. People liked them, even if, with 80 HP, they weren't exactly a thrill.
Basically the Vega was a shrunken-down typical American car--low on tech, but nice-looking in 3/4 form.
#26845 of 30871 Re: Low-mileage, original Vega GT [Mr_Shiftright]
Nov 18, 2012 (3:41 pm)
The first year they were out (prior to net hp ratings), the engines were 90 and 110 hp. By the final year, they were rated net at 78 and 87 hp (one-barrel and two-barrel, respectively).
I agree totally on the engine and body problems; but I don't believe the rustout in one year opinions. I lived in salty NW PA and was a 'student' of Vegas at the time. Two years or more? Rust showing at top of fenders, that is for sure. Top of fender-rust was something people weren't used to in a GM, as every other model had plastic fender liners. I can recall sticking my hand up inside the front fender of a mid-year '74 model and feeling (for the first time) an inner fender. The timing of midway through '74 was confirmed later by something I read online, about a plant engineer at Lordstown.
#26846 of 30871 Re: Low-mileage, original Vega GT [Mr_Shiftright]
Nov 18, 2012 (4:01 pm)
I was fortunate, as I had the Vega's sister car, the Pontiac Astre (1975 wagon style, 4 speed).
I was incredibly fortunate, part due to buying a later year model and living in the South ( little to no snow/salted roads). I had no rust or engine problems whatsoever.
I put around 75K miles before trading it for a 1978 Chrysler. While there may have been (or, maybe not... I can't say) many that had identical success stories, I'd wager that practically all owners that traded in their Vega/Astre's in a 3-4 year ownership time-frame took a beating on trade-in value.
The particular car I had was a fun car to drive, and got good mpg as I remember.
History tells me I was in a minority...