With the engine swap and suspension well sorted and nicely under budget, it was a fairly easy downhill ride from there. Due to the pristine condition of the notchback, the interior and exterior were completely intact-the paint only needing a quick scuff and shoot with the original PPG Dark Orange Metallic hue. For wheels, Jeff went old school with period-correct Superlites in 15x7 and 15x8, which he shod with BFG G-Force rubber. In the cockpit, the only major concession Jeff made was to driver support, with a pair of narrow aftermarket race seats he bought on eBay's Auto Mall. The rest is just the way it looked when it rolled out of Lordstown 39 years ago.
Other than the seat covers,...
Other than the seat covers, the Vega's interior was perfect when Jeff got it. The front seats were eBay specials, and were chosen because they needed to be really narrow to fit in the car. The rear seat was then upholstered in a carbon-fiber look to match the fronts. "Almost every seat I looked at was too damn wide," Jeff says. The SunPro tach and RCI belts are from Summit and the auxiliary gauges were left over from an Ultima GTR project.
Once completed in the spring of 2010, Jeff used it for daily transportation to and from his shop. The daily shakedowns were instrumental in working out the bugs, but best of all were the unsolicited comments. "I drove the car daily during the summer," Jeff says. "It was a hoot to drive! People would just start talking to us at the stoplight." Commuting duties soon graduated to autocross and road race work. "When I put sticky tires on it and started autocrossing it-putting it up on three wheels-the rear seat bulkhead started ripping out the spot welds." This prompted Jeff to perform even more seam welding and to add bracing to the bulkhead to eliminate the cracking.
In the end, the Vega turned out to be a disaster for General Motors. After GM built millions of H-bodies, only to have their bodies rust and their engines seize in such a short period of time, the H-body Vega arguably became the poster child for the mass defection away from domestic cars, and the subsequent driving force of the import car movement during the 1980s. Irrespective of this, the Vega employed pioneering technologies that remain in use today across the world (and yes, that includes building aluminum engine blocks without iron liners). Moreover, Jeff has shown that the Vega's problems can easily be banished, and its strong points strengthened with emphatic results. Maybe we won't have to wait another 13,000 years for Vega to be our guiding light after all!