1972 Vega Notchback
Budget Racer
Jeff Schwartz, owner of Schwartz Performance, is kind of a nut. While his contemporaries were stuck behind their seventh-grade desks, daydreaming about ice cream trucks and summer freedoms, Jeff was longing to improve his welding skills. He got an early start in the fabrication world, and it's paid off. Now he is not just owner, but fabricator at his own shop where he helps others fulfill their vehicular dreams.

In his profession, if you're successful, opportunities to tinker on your own projects come frequently. In a perfect world, budgets are endless. It's not a perfect world, however, and Jeff wanted to build a car that was low on budget but high on performance. Jeff obtained this 1972 Vega notchback after watching it get tossed between friends for 10 years. Jeff had enough, and offered the one with the hot potato $1,500 for the engineless car.

With a $5,000 budget in mind, he began with a quick scuff-and-shoot paintjob. The front sheetmetal was missing, so Jeff collected new panels and painted them this brown metallic by PPG. The Vega had 44,000 original miles with a remarkably intact interior that didn't require any repairs. Jeff sourced some extra-narrow seats to fit between the Vega's stock interior panels, and covered the rear seats to match.

Jeff is a pretty resourceful guy, which is very important when you're trying to save a couple bucks. A junkyard S-10 donor was used for its five-lug hubs, brakes, and spindles, as well as the entire rear axle and brake assembly. Jeff cut off the housing's brackets and welded on the Vega's; the fit was perfect.

The point of this build was to demonstrate how cool a car can be with a budget, and to run it at Goodguy's autocross events. Jeff loves the high-dollar cars as much as everyone else, but he knows firsthand how great it can be to build a car to enjoy even when times are tough.

By The Numbers
Jeff Schwartz, 41 • Woodstock, IL
Performance: 400 hp
Type: Chevy LS 5.3 HO
Block: aluminum
Oiling: factory
Rotating assembly: factory
Cylinder heads: factory
Camshaft: LS7 GM
Valvetrain: Patriot gold springs
Induction: LS1
Ignition: MSD coil-on-plug
Cooling: Be Cool radiator
Fuel system: Holley fuel pump,
Aeromotive regulator and rails
Exhaust: Schwartz Performance custom
Fasteners: ARP
Transmission/shifter: TH350,
10-inch B&M Holeshot converter
Driveshaft: Schwartz custom
Rear axle: S-10 8.5-inch GM 10-bolt
Front suspension: Addco sway bar,
Flaming River quick-ratio steering box
Rear suspension: Addco sway bar
Brakes: S-10 four-wheel disc
Paint: scuff-and-shoot PPG
Wheels: Superlite, 15x7 and 15x8
Tires: 225/50R15 BFGoodrich G-Force Sport