When we left off, the motor was in and the car was running, barely. I had collected most of the parts to complete it, but the body was pretty rough and needed significant work. Over the past year in my “free” time, my father and I have been able to strip the car down to its bare bones, and like so many projects, we discovered more issues. In addition to the swiss cheese quarter panel, rough fenders, and questionable hatch, I discovered, after removing the carpet and seats, that the right front floor was well on it’s way to making this a Flintstone car. I had been fortunate enough to find NOS or like new replacement panels for the aforementioned issues, but as you may know, finding parts for the Vega is a notoriously difficult undertaking. No one makes replacement panels and there are very few sources for any parts. The car has a cult following, so it’s through like minded individuals and social media that one can source what they need.
I was fortunate enough to come across a small shop through Facebook that began making floor pans for Monzas, and while not exact duplicates to the Vega, I purchased what I needed and am fitting it to work. In addition to the tear down, we have also worked on the engine, getting it to run better. We have rerouted the fuel line, adjusted the carburetor, and and played with the timing to the point that it runs very well now. In fact, for the first time ever, I was able to drive down the road and actually get it out of first gear. What a joy to squeal the tires at launch and hear that satisfying chirp as I shifted into second gear. Not bad for what used to be a much maligned and anemic 4 cylinder. The car still needs an exhaust as it’s running just a straight header, but once the body is done, that will be next. I have hung the replacement sheet metal and stripped the car down for body work. All chrome, lenses, locks, and handles are off as well as the side glass. Just 2 weeks ago, we finally loaded the car onto a U-haul car trailer and made the 2 and a half hour trek to Syracuse, where my Uncle and a family friend are going to put in the NOS quarter, repair the floor, and other imperfections, and prep the car for paint. Hopefully within the next couple of months, it will be back in Albany, ready to shoot and then the tedious job of reassembly.
Closer and closer, we can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope in my next update, you will see a solid car in primer.
[Log in to HMN.com and head over to My Hemmings to share your old car stories, photos, or videos.]