A Rotary-Powered Chevy Vega Begs The Question: Why?

Pictures: Mike Garrett/SpeedHunters

You’ll not find too many fans of the Chevy Vega. That’s not to say they don’t exist; it’s just that the Chevy Vega isn’t the kind of car that won many fans back when it was brand new. Produced from 1970 through 1977, the Vega was introduced to lots of accolades, which soon gave away to criticisms about everything, from its reliability to safety. These days, Chevy Vegas most often find second lives as purpose-built drag cars, where most of its fans swap the old aluminum-block 4-cylinder for something with more cylinders and more power.

Or in this case, no cylinders at all. Proving that nothing can stop a determined gearhead, SpeedHunters came across a hybrid vehicle like no other; a Chevy Vega with the heart of a Mazda RX-7, a turbocharged 13B rotary engine.

As SpeedHunters notes, the Chevy Vega enjoys a certain amount of popularity with a specific sect of gearheads; those looking for one of the lightest cars GM ever made. People have shoved all manners of motors into the Vega’s tight engine bay…but a rotary Mazda engine is a first. With no cylinders, but rather rotors, the rotary engine offers a potent alternative to those who don’t care for just another V8 swap.

Pictures: Mike Garrett/SpeedHunters

On a certain level, the combination makes a whole lot of sense. The Mazda 13b is a legendary engine in its own right, and the Vega has its own weird cult of loyal followers. Plus, it is different enough to be cool without coming off as a project only someone with crazy skills could do. Drop it in, hook it up, plug in a few wires, and viola! A Mazda-powered Vega. Is this a cool engine swap, or could you do better?

About the author

Chris Demorro

Christopher DeMorro is a freelance writer and journalist from Connecticut with two passions in life; writing and anything with an engine.
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