Jim and Crystal Fields’ 1975 Vega Kammback is the polar opposite of the factory-produced car. With twice as many cylinders and five times as much horsepower – which results in less than 2 miles per gallon – this is far from the Vega wagon your mom drove to the grocery store.
The car is far from its original factory condition. In fact, it’s far from everything that GM had in mind for the car when it was produced. This car is all hot rod and race car.
Replacing the original 140 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine is a balanced and blueprinted 350 cubic-inch V-8, bored .60 over to make it 355 cubic inches. Dual Holley 650 CFM four-barrel carburetors sitting atop a Holley aluminum Pro Dominator intake delivers the fuel through the aluminum heads to the thirsty Wiseco pistons. The steel crank engine packs a 12:5-1 compression ration, 630 lift competition cam to produce more than 550 hp.
All this power is delivered through a GM PowerGlide two-speed transmission with a 1:82 first gear ratio and 5,500 stall speed, with a B&M Pro Shifter to a 12-bolt 5:38 rear end. This goes to 14-inch rear slicks on 15-inch rims standing 31 inches tall and 14-inches wide with wheelie bars. The Vega does 6.61 seconds in the eighth-mile, 10.28 in the quarter-mile at 129 mph.
Nothing remains from the factory interior; two racing seats are the only creature comforts. The dashboard has been replaced with a custom-made racing dash. Long gone also are the rear fold-down seats, now replaced with a tubbed-out interior complete with roll bars. And the rear of the car displays two phrases that are almost gospel to drag racers. “He who snoozes, loses,” and “Happiness is a low E.T.”
Jim is a lifelong gear head and racer, but that hobby had to take a back seat when he was raising his children. Now retired, he is building and racing cars again.
His Vega has its roots in Muncie, where he purchased it about four years ago. Racing isn’t cheap as Jim’s powerful and thirsty engine gets a mere 1.6 mpg, and the required 110 octane fuel – available at only three Southside sites – costs about $6.99 a gallon. And there is also the maintenance.
Although Jim hasn’t raced the past two summers, he’s ready to do so. If you don’t see him at the Muncie track or other drag strips, you may catch him at some car shows and cruise-ins.