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1973 Chevrolet Vega Hatchback Street Machine

What Was Once Old Is Now New

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Speaking of transmissions, David is also rather pointed about his choice of a Muncie four-speed for the car. "To me, one of the pleasures of a musclecar is to shift gears. It's much more fun, even if an automatic is probably more efficient on the dragstrip." His swap involved using a Monza V-8 bellhousing and a cable clutch linkage tied to a Centerforce clutch setup, which keeps the pedal effort manageable. Of course, this also meant he needed a much stronger rearend than the spindly 6.5-inch 10-bolt that came stock in Vegas. This is where he commissioned Doug Brown to construct an 8.5-inch 10-bolt housing to work with the Vega's original four-link rear suspension. Doug cut the original Vega brackets off the stock rear and added them to the narrowed 10-bolt along with a set of 3.73 gears. That completed the drivetrain, which meant he could concentrate on enhancing the Vega's appearance.

David admits he's not a fabricator, but after 41 years in the bodywork business he does know his way around sheetmetal. Starting from the ground up, he removed the spare tirewell and added a 20-gallon, second-generation Camaro gas tank to give a little range to the thirsty Vega. Next came a rear spoiler that he split so it wouldn't hang over the edge of the hatch when opened. "I've always thought those little Mopar side-marker lights looked great," David says, so that was another added touch along with the Mopar-inspired tail stripe treatment. He also narrowed the front bumper in the center to pull the bumper ends in closer to the body and then inserted a complete Camaro taillight treatment that makes you look twice when you see the car the first time from the rear. It almost looks like a mini-Camaro. And because he runs a body shop, what better way to show off his body and paint skills than with a black paint job? According to David, "I went with a PPG single-stage because to me it looks the most black. Some two-stage paints make the black look milky." The interior is generally the last thing on the agenda, but David didn't scrimp just because the car was close to completion. That's a Mercedes red vinyl on the seats and door panels with a Porsche tan carpet to finish it off.

But this Vega is more than just an exercise in image enhancement. David likes to go fast, so he took the Vega to Pomona awhile back, and even with slippery street tires the little Vega pulled off a crisp 12.30 at 110-mph pass. There's probably more left in it, but David's content. "I just like driving it. It's fun."

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Car Craft