Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Car Of The Day: August 21, 2012

Today's car of the day is Lindberg's 1971 Chevrolet Vega Hatchback.

The Chevrolet Vega is a subcompact automobile that was produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors from 1970 to 1977. Named after the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, it came in two-door hatchback, notchback, wagon, and panel delivery body styles, all powered by an inline four-cylinder engine with a lightweight, aluminum alloy cylinder block. The Vega received praise and awards at its introduction, including Motor Trend Car of the Year. Subsequently the car was known for a wide range of problems related to its engineering, reliability, safety, propensity to rust, and engine durability. Despite a series of recalls and design upgrades, the Vega's problems tarnished both its own as well as General Motors' reputation. Production ended with the 1977 model year.

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

Lindberg is better known for their larger plastic model kits, but they also had a series of small-scale Mini-Lindy models, which like their larger siblings, were also sold as unassembled plastic model kits. The assembly process for the small-scale models was quite simple, not requiring any real model building skills.  Lindberg's small-scale models were produced in the late 1960's and 1970's, as well as a short-lived attempt to enter the market again in 1990, with a few of the original Lindberg castings, mixed with a few new castings of modern cars, molded in bright colored plastics with gray trim instead of chromed pieces.

The wheelbase on all models is 97.0 inches. 1971 and 1972 models are 169.7 inches long. 1973 models are 3 inches longer due to the front 5 mph bumper. Front and rear 5 mph bumpers on 1974 to 1977 models add another 5.7 inches. The Hatchback Coupe with its lower roofline and a fold-down rear seat accounted for nearly half of all Vegas sold. The Sedan was later named the Notchback. The Panel Express panel delivery model had steel in place of the wagon's rear side glass, an enclosed storage area under the load floor, and low-back seats for driver and passenger (optional) without headrests.

The Vega was designed for vertical shipment, nose down. General Motors and Southern Pacific designed "Vert-A-Pac" Railroad cars to hold 30 Vegas each, compared with normal tri-level autoracks which held 18. The Vega was fitted with four removable cast-steel sockets on the underside and had plastic spacers, removed at unloading, to protect engine and transmission mounts. The rail car ramp/doors were opened and closed via forklift. Vibration and low-speed crash tests ensured the cars would not shift or suffer damage in transit. The Vega was delivered topped with fluids, ready to drive to dealerships, so the engine was baffled to prevent oil entering the number one cylinder; the battery filler caps high on the rear edge of the casing prevented acid spills; a tube drained fuel from carburetor to vapor canister; and the windshield washer bottle stood at 45 degrees.

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