Hot sleeper 1973 Chevrolet Vega

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Hot sleeper 1973 Chevrolet Vega | ClassicCars.com Journal
The stock-looking Vega is actually ready for action

You don’t really see too many Chevrolet Vegas around these days, what with their detonating engines and rust-prone bodies. Not really one of Chevy’s finest moments.

The Pick of the Day might look merely like an especially clean Vega wagon with custom wheels and tires that somehow has survived the rigors of the decades. That is, until you hear the rumbling burble of its V8 engine and spot the substantial shifter mechanism between the front seats.

Hot sleeper 1973 Chevrolet Vega | ClassicCars.com Journal
Larger tires are in the back, hot rod style

While it’s true that you can turn just about anything into a street rod – I encountered a radical-custom Nash Metropolitan at a recent Goodguys meet – some unexpected cars just seem to work so well, such as this 1973 Chevy Vega wagon with a 350cid V8 shoved under its narrow hood.

The two-door Vega wagon was always a good-looking car despite its mechanical deficiencies, and its all-Chevy lineage was no-doubt appealing to its builder, who thankfully kept its stock appearance intact.

The lightweight compact should be a stout performer with all that horsepower on board, and the car has the quirky and ironic appeal of turning a mechanical ugly duckling into a high-performance swan.

Hot sleeper 1973 Chevrolet Vega | ClassicCars.com Journal
The V8 installation looks snug but cleanly done

The Costa Mesa, California, private seller advertising the Vega on ClassicCars.com describes it as built from an 80,000-mile, accident-free wagon with all-original glass and sheet metal. According to the seller, mechanical upgrades include a Weiand aluminum intake manifold, 670 cfm Holley Street Avenger carburetor, Sanderson custom shorty headers, Thrush dual-exhaust mufflers, 35 gpm water pump, and a custom aluminum radiator with high-flow mechanical fan and diamond plate shroud.

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Power runs through a TH350 automatic transmission with a B&M slap shifter and 2.73 rear with Richmond gears. The brakes are front discs from a Chevy Monza that have been drilled and slotted, and 2-inch drums in the rear, along with a dual-diaphragm brake booster.

Hot sleeper 1973 Chevrolet Vega | ClassicCars.com Journal
Custom steering wheel, performance shifter and extra gauges adorn the interior

The suspension has been upgraded with Moog springs and Monroe shocks. The wheels are 14-inch slotted mags with fresh tires, and the original 13-inch wheels come with the sale.

The interior has been redone, the seller says, and it appears to be stock aside from the custom steering wheel, performance gauges and that hefty shifter.

The seller says the car is a daily driver that “rolls straight, brakes straight” with “no unwanted sounds, shimmies, pulling or vibrations.”

The asking price for this highly unusual but very usable high-performance Vega is $17,500

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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