OK, it’s been a few months (I’m sorry, but as most of you know, life has a way of happening!), and the Vega Resurrection project is moving slowly, but steadily. In the initial blog post, I did my best to bring everyone up to speed on my Vega’s history. In the aftermath, I’ve learned a little bit more about its past, and even received this photo of the Vega in its heyday (or at least, in its more presentable days)!
At the time of this photo, the Vega had a Big Block (I’ve actually got a set of BBC headers and motor plate for it). The owner was Tom Slaughter, an Arkansas racer who, to my understanding, competed mainly in AHRA events of the day.
In late winter, I took a few weekends and stripped the Vega down to essentially nothing. Everything that bolts on (or in) was removed. There’s not much left! As bare as it is, it’s still heavier than you would think (at least, it was heavier than it looked): it took 4 grown men to carry it outside so that I could tip it over and do my best to pressure wash 43 years of grease and grime before it made its first stop: the chassis shop.
My prized Vega is currently at a local chassis shop: Purple Hayes Performance. The owner, a local racer and good friend of mine, Jeff Hayes is performing a myriad of small updates. I’ll post some photos as the work progresses, but here is a condensed list of the chores I delegated to Jeff… He’s going to relocate the rack and pinion (as it was, the rack rested almost against the balancer, necessitating some creative engineering for a drive mandrel for the alternator and fuel pump), and replace the entire steering column and linkage (I’m pretty sure what was in it came from Hardy in ’74). He’s going to mount a new fiberglass front end and hood. Thanks to Jim Henderson in Alabama, I located a set of steel doors and a steel hatch (I wanted roll up and down windows, and the factory hatch, hinges, and assists). Jeff is remanufacturing the mounts to make that all work.
He’s also adding a couple of bars for safety/updated certification, and relocating a bunch of accessories (batteries, nitrous bottle mounts, fuel cells, etc.) to make them more convenient and in better location for weight distribution. Plus, Jeff ripped the existing tinwork out of the back (the driver’s compartment still utilizes the factory floorboard, which I’m going to keep intact – with the new addition of a removable tunnel to make it a little easier to work on). The next stop after Purple Hayes Performance will be 2 Boyz Blasting, a local powder coater. Once they finish up, it’ll go back to Jeff for new tubs and tin over the rear end (I think I’ve actually decided to go with Carbon Fiber on all the new interior panels… Yes, I realize that it doesn’t make any sense to add 100+ lbs in door and hatch, and spend extra money to save maybe 5 lbs. in carbon… But it looks cool. And it’s what I want. So bear with me).
As I mentioned earlier, the progression for the project should be: Leave Purple Hayes and head to powdercoat. Then to paint (my poor body guy has no idea what he’s getting into). Then eventually back to Purple Hayes for tin/carbon work and windows before my beloved Vega finally finds its way back to my shop for final assembly.
At this point, all I’ve got for that portion of the process is a handful of boxes and a lot of “to-do’s” in terms of parts to order. But one thing that’s already in place is a new M9 rear end housing from Moser Engineering. The Vega has always had an Olds/Pontiac rear end; it’s the only rear end assembly that I know of with a removable chunk besides a 9” and the old Chrysler 8 ¾”. For that reason, it was always fairly convenient. But the stock cases are kind of weak (at one point, I literally put the pinion gear ON THE RACETRACK at Music City Raceway – with the driveshaft still attached), and the cases, gears, and accessories are getting harder to find. As part of the complete transformation, a 9” setup was high the list.
On a trip up North over the winter, I took my old housing to Tim Irwin at Moser. He used it to mock up a 9” and had it back to me within a few weeks. At this point, the Moser M9 is by far and away the nicest thing for my “new” Vega. My hope is that everything around it makes it look right at home by the end of 2017!
As you might imagine, I’ve got a shelf (and more) full of old Vega parts that I’ll be replacing. These components are good, quality parts; but I’m going to try my best to make the 2018 version of the Vega essentially new. Keep an eye on the Luke Bogacki Motorsports Facebook page for great deals on quality used parts off the Vega; I’ll be posting them throughout the summer. Like I said, it’s good stuff; and who wouldn’t want to own a little piece of Vega (ok, don’t answer that)?
Thanks for reading, I’ll update more as the (re)build progresses!