The car that almost destroyed General Motors? That's the title of a story recently published by Popular Mechanics all about the Chevrolet Vega. To be honest, there are a number of vehicles to which we could assign that ignominious title, but it's hard to argue with the disaster that was the Vega.

2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the Chevy Vega (and, incidentally, the AMC Gremlin and Ford Pinto). Unlike other American subcompacts of the day, the Vega was actually a pretty decent-looking little car, and its front-engine, rear-wheel-drive architecture was something Americans were comfortable with, so it sold rather well. All was not well in Vega Land, however.

You'd think a few Vegas would still be running around, considering that nearly two million were sold before GM halted production after the 1972 1977 model year. That's just not the case, for two big reasons. First, the Vega's bodies were stamped from almost impossibly thin steel to save weight and costs, and they rusted very badly because of it. Second, and perhaps most damning, the car's innovative-for-the-time aluminum engine, which went without cylinder liners in favor of coated bores, failed at an alarming rate due in part to a cooling system that was inadequately designed. In any case, blown engines common, as were high oil usage and blown head gaskets.

Was the Chevy Vega the car that most directly sent General Motors into the downward spiral that ultimately culminated in its recent bankruptcy? For an interesting take on that story, head over to Popular Mechanics for the entire article.

[Source: Popular Mechanics]

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