Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

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Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby herkey43 » Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:08 am

Its actually snowing on the Oregon Coast today. I'm not too far from my pellet stove, thinking this would be a good time to step out of the shadows and talk about my old vega Hot Rod. First, I need to say that the collective knowledge and experience of this forum is amazing, and has contributed greatly to the project success. Thanx for that...

Part 1
In 1974 I bought a new Vega GT Kammback for my wife. I often found myself in the garage with the hood open thinking... Damn! This would make a great Hot Rod. Small Block Chevy would drop right in. Well, it took 10 years to get around to it. I was building a 350ci Chevy for the Vega, while shopping for a decent '74 Vega Wagon. I found exactly that in an unfinished project car. No running gear, or interior. The Dashboard and boxes of wiring for at least 3 cars of unknown origin, and a load of misc stuff was piled in the back. But when it rolled off the trailer, I was a Vega guy. The car was very straight, and a lot of time and money had gone in before me. It has a Don Hardy narrowed 12 bolt rear end on Vega 4 link suspension. Don Hardy also provided front 5 lug hubs, front springs, and motor mounts, all nicely installed. Not bad for $700..
Soo... Long story short, I built that 350 SBC with 4 bolt mains, Fully balanced, 2.02 heads, Edelbrock with 650 Holley, Mallory distributor and MSD ignition, and Don Hardy full length headers. I came up with a B&M TH 400 tranny to hang the shifter on. I worked out few more details, welded up a couple brackets, twisted some wires together, and I had a hot rod. For 2 years it was my only daily driver/street racer while I kept working on it. I had a lot of fun cruising, local shows, blowing the doors off (most) detroit muscle, and trying to ignore annoying teenagers in a Honda Civic. Eventually my cooling problems wore me out, and the Vega wound up under a cover for the following 15 years.

Part 2
In 2010, while moving, I fired up the Vega, and drove it to my sons place for an undetermined future. He has a nice shop on his property, and is an accomplished car builder himself. One weekend we had it on his 4 post lift, havin' a couple shots, and talking about making a few upgrades and putting it back on the street. So... What follows is a chronicle of the fun we had and a syndrome I call ...Creeping Elegance.

Here is a shot of the car while upgrades and design were being planned.
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby Kenova » Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:08 am

:popcorn: :beer: :popcorn:

Ken
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby BadBowtie » Sat Dec 07, 2013 1:41 pm

Great story, cant wait to hear/see more. Your display picture just seems like a really big tease right now!
James

1975 Vega GT 350 sbc, STR10 crossram w/dual 390CFM Holleys, M21 4-speed, Hurst shifter and ford 9"
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby T-FATTY » Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:28 pm

I like the molded in flares.
YES I accept paypal donations...
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby herkey43 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:46 pm

Part 2.1
OK, So we need to make a list, and it wont be short... (no Hunny, it won't cost much. I'll cut back on Starbux !)
First, the Stance is all wrong. It looks like an 80's wannabe gasser street racer. I was never crazy about the look, and it never handled very good. Flops all over just changing lanes. The brakes sucked, gas gauge never worked, and the cooling system will work up to 250* before I get anywhere.
What are the goals, and rules? Low stance, tight handling, fat rubber and big wheels. Completely reliable, go anyplace ready. Drivable enough to dump into a corner a way too fast, or roll driveways without that crunching rubber sound. Hey, its just a Chevy... What could go wrong?
So...High on the list to start is:
Suspension 1.0
Part of the stuff in the back when I got the car was a nice 1" sway bar with a bunch of red bushings. Because this car is a base model, i guess it had no sway bar, or any means to attach one. Need to fabricate frame mount and A arm mounts. I ordered a rear sway bar from Summit that was supposed to bolt on. It fit well enough except the angle on the ends are not parallel to the lower control arms. OK, those control arms could use a little extra support anyway. I'll box those arms and build off the bottom. I mocked it up and cut down the brackets, fit it a few times, and made a lot of sparks.
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RS1.jpg
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RS2.jpg
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby herkey43 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:05 pm

NOTE: In all cases, "We" means my son, Mark, and I.
This our second build together. {Ask about my old '64 Corvair Sand Rail ...Reborn}
His shop, my old toys...
-- I'm all like, "Hey, I'm 70 years old... let's burn some rubber!"
-- He's like... OK, but you got to pull out all this stuff, and clean it.

Suspension 2.0
So this is where we try to set up the ride height to meet the design goals.
-- We had to do a lot of experiments to find out what worked. ...Meaning we took a lot of stuff apart too.
-- Lots of measuring, figurin', Checking sizes.. coffee ...Reading h-body forum, measure it again, surf Summit.com get some parts, forum.
Speaking of figuring, anybody with an iPhone needs GarageBuddy. Tire size calculator alone kept me {mostly} sane. Worth the price of free.

So here is the PhotoShop illustration that we used as design goals. A picture from the shop with some other stuff from ads worked in.
-- Yes, its fake.
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby herkey43 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:27 pm

How can we get it that low? Where are the edges...
Well the first problem is clearance on the Hardy collectors.
That is the reason it sits that high to start with. Those babys are hitting the floor.
More on Exhaust later.
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby Monza Harry » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:55 pm

Nice looking project, and it is great you are doing it Father and Son style. :th: As for that "Fake" picture the only little glitch is the 2 light glares on the car (shop lights, the sun would likely only cast 1) I have seen "Pro" shots that weren't even close to as good as yours! Nice! Harry
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby herkey43 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:09 am

The front will be the hardest part, so start there.
I calculated I should be able to fit.
-- 17" American Torque Thrust 2. 17x7. 0 offset
-- 205x45x17 all weather tire.
Math is good, so how?
-- Cut 1 coil off the Hardy spring. Too long for sure anyway. {sparks} It dropped about an inch. Still too high. Hmmm. Dont want kill this spring, so:
-- Looks like S10 spindles is the way to go. Summit. 2 inch drop. I knew it would be too low, but got to see it installed.
-- Ball joint adapters, '75 Vega ball joints, new parts and process per Mr. Gumm. V8Monza.com
In the end, we added a .75 in. spacer under the spring to bring it up some.
Wheels fit nice except S10 spindle is about 3/8 wider.. as I remember . Close, but not in quite enough.
Mark called his friend with a machine shop, and they took 0.15" off the wheel's mounting surface. {Sure to get comments on that}
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby herkey43 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:06 pm

Thanx Monza Harry. Mark did the photoshop work one day at lunch.
Blew me away...
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby Monza Harry » Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:35 pm

I didn't even notice it until you pointed it out (that it is a fake)! But the light glare at the "B" pillar is clearly a fluorescent shop light not a low mounted flash to fill on some shadows. Still a Quality shot for sure! Now I noticed after looking at your journal for the third time, that you have that Addco (style) sway bar plate welded to a plate to box your lower control arms I am not sure that plate will live very long like that. I think I would slot that plate so I could install as planned by the manufacturer. The force of that 1" dia. bar will flex even a thick plate like a cheap oil can. I too have been troubled by the mounting of these things (I bought the same ones) once I switch to tubular arms as I wish to. I am playing with a plan in my head right now, if I think I like it after a month or so I will post it up for some input and then I can re-tweak and maybe actually like the end result. Harry
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby zeke » Tue Dec 10, 2013 12:14 am

herkey43 wrote:
-- Lots of measuring, figurin', Checking sizes.. coffee ...Reading h-body forum, measure it again, surf Summit.com get some parts, forum.


That's the way it's going for me rfn too! :bang:

Nice wagon and that is an awesome photo manipulation as well :!:
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby herkey43 » Tue Dec 10, 2013 4:31 pm

Harry.... I had planned to follow the instructions, as a good place to start. There were a couple problems with that. The bar ends don't go the same direction as the arms. (see the picture) The mount could not fit with the bolt and spacer design. It took forever to get the bar from Summit and I had no time to return it. Thats when you get creative. I get your point, and hope you are wrong, but will surely keep an eye on it. Thanx for the tip.
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby herkey43 » Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:45 pm

To setup the rear ride height, we went through a few ideas that did not produce satisfying results. In the end, I picked up a pair of 82 Camaro springs. I had to trim over an inch to reach "almost too low". I went with Air-Lift DragBags to make final adjustments to ride height and extra load. Bags are setup with one valve for even inflation. The setup gives a much better ride than my old Air Shocks, and puts the support in the spring, not on a shock bracket.
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Re: Old Vega Hot Rod ...Reborn

Postby Monza Harry » Tue Dec 10, 2013 11:12 pm

Herkey, I see the misalignment issue your having, my rear "looks Ok" but I am sure there is an issue with the front bar I have. That isn't too bad for over $500! I still think you should try and use the Addco method and maybe call them perhaps you can bend it back cold (I wouldn't bet on it) See what they have to say for themselves. Harry
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