On this day in 1970 dealerships began selling the 1971 Chevrolet Vega. The subcompact commuter, which won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award for 1971, was developed under chief engineer Ed Cole and chief stylist Bill Mitchell. In the years following its introduction, various issues with engineering, safety and reliability were discovered. The problems were blamed on Chevrolet’s rush to get the car to market. It was developed in just two years, starting in 1968, leading to insufficient testing. This ultimately left it up to customers to discover its flaws.
The Chevrolet Vega was available as a coupe, notchback, wagon and panel wagon. All were equipped with variations of an inline four cylinder engines. Among the more interesting Vega factoids was that it was designed to be shipped vertically. Using a specially designed train car, GM could ship 30 ready to drive Vegas per train car, compared to 18 if shipped horizontally.
For 1975 GM introduced the Cosworth Vega, a limited production performance package. Chevrolet developed an all-aluminum 122 cu in four cylinder engine specifically for the car. It featured a DOHC cylinder head designed by British company Cosworth Engineering, giving the car its name. Only 3,508 Cosworth Vegas were built and they were priced nearly double that of a base Vega. For an additional $900 you could purchase a 1975 Chevrolet Corvette. Vega production ended during 1977. About 2,010,000 were built before the Chevy Vega was discontinued.