Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Funny Car Of The Day: September 7, 2011

Today's car of the day is Hot Wheels' 1974 Chevrolet Vega funny car (Vega Bomb).

The Chevrolet Vega is a subcompact, two-door automobile that was produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors for the 1971-1977 model years. Named after the star Vega, the car was powered by a lightweight aluminum-block inline four-cylinder engine.

The Vega was produced in hatchback, notchback, wagon, and panel delivery body styles. A limited-production model, the Cosworth Vega, with a smaller but more powerful engine, was introduced in 1975, the same year that GM introduced two additional subcompacts: the less expensive Chevrolet Chevette, and the Vega-derived Chevrolet Monza. Two additional Vega variants were produced by Pontiac: the Astre and the Safari Wagon.

Initially well-received by buyers and the motoring press, from whom it received numerous awards, the Vega sold well against domestic subcompacts such as the AMC Gremlin, Ford Pinto, and imports from Toyota, Datsun and Volkswagen. By 1974 it was among the top 10 best-selling American cars.

Brought to market in a short time, early examples suffered from engine problems, poor build quality, and corrosion, which caused long term harm to GM's reputation. Although the faults were remedied by recalls and redesigns, a three-year decline in sales culminated in the car's cancellation at the end of the 1977 model year.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Chevrolet Vega

Hot Wheels had a thing for funny cars in the 1970s.  In addition to the Vega Bomb seen here, there was also a '70 Barracuda, '77 Mustang II (Show Hoss II), Plymouth Arrow, '79 Corvette (Vetty Funny), and a '79 Firebird. 

Chevy Vegas are often modified due to their front engine-rear drive (FR) design, light weight and low cost. A small-block Chevrolet V8 engine fits in the engine compartment; and a big-block V8 will fit with minor chassis modifications. The Vega was not offered with a factory V8 option, although the Vega-based Monza, Sunbird and Starfire were.

Motion Performance and Scuncio Chevrolet sold new, converted small and big block V8 Vegas. Heavy duty engine mounts and front springs were fitted to support the increased engine weight, a large radiator and modified driveshaft were required. For engines over 300 hp (220 kW), or with a manual transmission, a narrowed 12-bolt differential was required, replacing the stock Vega unit.

Drag racer Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins in the 1972 season, won six of eight National Pro-Stock division events with his Pro Stock, 331 cu in (5.4 L)-powered 1972 Vega, Grumpy's Toy X. In its first event, the untested Vega made 9.6 second passes and won the 1972 Winternationals. Jenkins' 1974 Vega, Grumpy's Toy XI, was the first full-bodied Pro Stock drag racer with a full tube chassis, as well as the first with MacPherson strut suspension and dry sump oiling. Jenkins' 1974 Vega sold for $550,000 in 2007.

In July 1972, Hot Rod tested a Chevrolet-built prototype Vega featuring an all-aluminum V8. The special 283 cu in (4.6 L) engine was used in a 1950s special lightweight Corvette program, and later installed in the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle (CERV), an open-wheel rear engine prototype. One of the last engines was bored out to 302 cu in (4.9 L) for the Vega application. With 11:1 compression pistons, a "097 Duntov" mechanical camshaft and cast-iron four-barrel intake manifold with a Quadrajet carburetor, the car recorded a stopwatch quarter-mile standing-start time of 13.97 seconds. The prototype had a stock Turbo Hydramatic, stock Vega rearend and street tires.

Not including Schrock Brothers pieces, this is tied for the most I've ever paid for a single car (along with a Jet Wheels '68 Mustang).  I don't have a lot of Redlines and oddly enough, I never would have expected the Vega Bomb to be one of the ones to end up in my collection as I generally don't collect funny cars.

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