Classic Car Watch
Vegas and Pintos

May 1, 2006
By Scott Lewis

A few months' ago I started displaying the date I found a car for sale. One of the first ideas I had for this was to look for Vegas and Pintos. I know, these cars are crap. Back in the late seventies and even into the eighties V-8 Vegas and Pintos where kind of cool. I always thought it would be a cool project to make one.

I remember seeing an early 70s Vega in Hot Rod magazine. It was painted yellow with the GT stripes in black. The engine it had was a simple 300 horsepower 327. Nothing too special, but it was the details that I really liked. It looked great and I got the impression it would make a great little driver that could kick ass with a moderate small block due to its overall light weight.

So this month I am getting around to showing the Vegas and Pintos I have been looking at for the past few months. I did not find many cars. In fact, I went months without seeing anything new for sale. I got tired of trying to find a car that was not already hacked up into some kind of cheesy race car. 

Here are the cars I found.

1973 Chevrolet Vega - $2,500 (Preferred Vega)

73_vega_perfect_1.jpg (43937 bytes)

Description: 40k original miles, runs great.

NADA: $2,075 - $3,200

Source: Collector Car Trader

Found: 10/19/05

Comments: I found it. This is exactly what I want. It's perfect. If I had the spare money now I really would buy this car. Can I find a car just like this in two years. I hope so. It's in California, so hopefully it is rust free.

1971 Chevrolet Vega - $3350 (Runner Up - A Started Project)

71_vega_blue_v6_1.jpg (78440 bytes)

Description: 4.3 V-6 engine, new blue paint, no rust, good tires, at floor shift, gauges new quadra jet, motor mounts/radiator for V8 included, Runs Great.

NADA: Uh-huh!

SourceCollector Car Trader

Found: 3/24/06

Comments: I like the V-6. That's different from a V-8, and it is an idea I've had myself. In my mind I would build the best performance/mileage compromise.

1976 Chevrolet Vega GT - $3,400

76_vega_gt_5speed_yellow_1.jpg (21691 bytes)

Description: Hatchback, 5 spd, runs well, garaged, nice appearance, a true collectors item, good candidate for conversion to V8.

NADA: $3,350 - $4,800

Source: Collector Car Trader

Found: 10/19/05

Comments: This would be perfect if it were a 70 - 73 with the small bumpers. Could we convert it?

1973 Chevrolet Vega - $3,900

73_vega_ca_no_rust_red_1.jpg (56617 bytes)

Description: California car, no rust, mint condition.

NADA: $2,075 - $3,200

Source: Collector Car Trader

Found: 10/19/05

Comments: We'll have to get rid of that dorky 70s front spoiler. Better pictures may tell us if this car is worth while.

1973 Chevrolet Vega - $5,800

73_vega_327_white_1.jpg (40778 bytes)

Description: 327 V8, auto transmission, turbo 350, 10 bolt, posi rear end, white, good driver, good condition.

NADA: Yea, right!

SourceCollector Car Trader

Found: 10/12/05

Comments: Why would I look at this car. I remember a very long time ago I saw a early 70's V-8 Vega in a car magazine. It was painted Yellow with the black GT strip. It looked totally stock except for the 327, 300 hp motor. The install looked factory... although factory for a mid sixties engine. It was so clean it always inspired me to like Vegas. While I was reading this ad I thought of that car, and hoped for the best when I clicked to see the picture. I cringed as the page loaded hoping I would not see some freaky race car wanna-be. I was pleasantly surprised. Why? Take a look at the picture. He still has 4 bolt front wheels. And the rears look way out of place. I am almost hoping this car still has its original rear end. We should easily be able to replace the hood with a stock hood. Then replace the wheels and tires to get the thing normal looking. Then it is a matter of sorting the car out to make sure it is reliable and worthy of driving on a regular basis.

I think this car can be saved.

1972 Chevrolet Vega - $3,500

72_vega_4speed_orange_1.jpg (52241 bytes) 72_vega_4speed_orange_2.jpg (32593 bytes) 72_vega_4speed_orange_3.jpg (48388 bytes)

Description: 4 cyl, 4-spd, runs and drives, partial GT conversion, additional parts included: right fender, grill, interior, 4-bolt SBC block, too many to list.

NADA: $3,125 - $4,525

Source: Collector Car Trader

Found: 1/24/06

Comments: Be careful of rust. One of the inner fender panels is rotted away. If the rest is reasonably rust free it might be worth it. I like the 4 speed, and would love to swap up to a V-6 with a 5 or 6 speed... just for kicks.

1973 Chevrolet Vega - $3500

73_vega_mint_body_1.jpg (26468 bytes)

Description: California Car, body in mint condition, 4-cylinder.

NADA: $2,075 - $3,200

SourceCollector Car Trader

Found: 3/24/06

Comments: Who leaves the cover on a car for a picture. Was the extra ten minutes to take it off and put it back on that much trouble. Or... is he hiding something. He says it's in mint condition. So we should call for some real pictures.

1973 Ford Pinto - $1,500 (Preferred Pinto)

73_pinto_powder_blue_1.jpg (43756 bytes)

Description: Powder blue, at, 2L, 53k miles, 4 cylinders, gas miser, 1 owner, current registration w/title, 100% original, original paint.

NADA: $2,000 - $3,050

Source: Collector Car Trader

Found: 3/24/2006

Comments: Perfect! One owner, low mileage, all original (including paint) car. What more could you want? I don't like the color but at this price I have no problem with painting it. This is a perfect project car. Let's drop in a 302 Fuel Injected motor... or maybe even a late model OHC V-8. At this price I just have two questions? Does it have rust (which actually may not be a problem at this price), and does he think it would make the drive from California to Texas?

1973 Ford Pinto - $4,900 (Runner Up - A Started Project)

73_pinto_289_4speed_blue_1.jpg (16163 bytes)

Description: Not for the faint of heart, rock solid body, high performance 289 V8, 4-speed, nicely done, 9in Ford rear, street/strip, Flowmaster.

NADA: You're Kidding!

SourceCollector Car Trader

Found: 10/12/05

Comments: This car looks like he didn't go too far. We need to ditch the hood and front spoiler and swap out the wheels and tires for a cleaner look. The stripes mean we are going to have to paint the car too. The 4 speed sells the car. Of course, we wanted to do this ourselves. We need to check the quality of the work carefully.

1973 Ford Pinto Wagon - $4,600

73_pinto_woody_wagon_1.jpg (64636 bytes) 73_pinto_woody_wagon_2.jpg (75731 bytes) 73_pinto_woody_wagon_3.jpg (66930 bytes) 73_pinto_woody_wagon_4.jpg (63567 bytes)

Description: Low miles, garage keep, runs and drives great, disc brakes, air conditioning, automatic with a 4 cylinder engine, very very nice paint and a near mint interior. Here is that less expensive woody wagon to cruise in this summer.

NADA: $2,588 - $3,996

Source: California Classics & Collectibles

Found: 10/12/05

Comments: My brother used to drive a clapped out Pinto Wagon. That means he will either think this car is way cool if I bought it, or he will think I am totally off my rocker.

If this is what you are looking for then go for it. There were plenty of pictures on their web site and all I could see wrong was a crack in the dash. I would ditch the woody look, which means a paint job. This could be a fun project car. Obviously we would try to stuff a 302 engine in here. However, I would try to make it a mileage master, not a power screamer. I don't know what it would take to swap in a manual, so let's just find an overdrive automatic. We can build up a 302 for maximum mileage... but still get V-8 performance. This could work.

1971 Ford Pinto - $2,990

71_pinto_plain_rare_1.jpg (18391 bytes)

Description: 4 cylinders, auto, great car for easy restoration, or street rod. Rare automatic. First year for the pinto.

NADA: $1,900 - $2,900

Source: Collector Car Trader

Found: 3/24/2006

Comments: This one looks very nice, but we would need to see better pictures to pay twice the price of the powder blue one above.