FROM TRASH DAY TO TRACK DAY
Many #rideoftheweek profiles are of cars that I consider the oddballs. These are vehicles that are rarely seen these days because the were either rare to begin with or basic transportation (i.e., shitboxes) that no one bothered to save. In the case of this week’s honoree, these cars were poorly built and basically rusted away. So, to see an example preserved or restored show up at a car show is a treat.
Such is the case of this 1974 Chevrolet Vega Kammback. For the uninitiated, the Vega was GM’s first foray in the 1970s small car revolution that was brought on by the energy crisis of the decade and the backlash of insurance companies on the big-motored muscle cars of the late-60s. However, what started off with such promise as the 1970 Motor Trend Car of the year ended seven model years later after being plagued with issues related to its engineering, reliability, safety, propensity to rust, and lack of durability of its inline 4-cylinder engine.
Gary Kmit worked at a Chevy dealer and worked on Vegas, but never saw a wagon. He was in search of a project car and had just returned from a road trip to Indiana to check out an Impala SS that was too clapped out for his taste. While on a bike ride thru Ambridge he spotted the Vega and used that seed money from the Impala to buy it.
It’s a true restomod, stock appearing with completely upgraded internals and underpinnings. Seventeen years ago, he tore it down to a bare shell and began the rebuild. Frame connectors, tubular control arms, Wilwood disc brakes, Chevrolet Rally Wheels, and a Blueprint 355 cubic inch V8 producing 413 hp round out the build. 2022 marked its debut season and he plans on breaking it in and doing some road racing with the Vega.