The Spirt of '76, would you believe '74?

Remember 1974? Fun year wasn't it? Gas shortages continued, escalating inflation ate at our wages, Vietnam waned and Richard Nixon resigned. Not much good in that year. At lot of folks would have liked to forget the whole thing.

Even GM, tried a smattering of patriotism in hopes of using the upcoming bicentennial to boost sagging sales. The sales package was known as the "Spirit of America." Remember?

If you forgot, it is understandable. Chevrolet didn't even bother putting it in their sales brochures. For the Vega and Nova, it was essentially a white exterior applique trimmed in red and blue stripes, with an eagle banner proclaiming the historical logo. The interior was as tasteful as the exterior, bright red carpeting, white vinyl upholstery.

All in all, it was rather striking and a successful sales item, despite it's premium price. On the '74 Vega, the "Spirit' package actually cost more than either an automatic transmission or air conditioner.

Not many exist today. As a matter of fact, one was showcased in the National Enquirer last year for whatever reason. Maybe it was due to the fact the owner was sealing it in his garage for preservation purposes. The best information that I have accessed informs me that only two exist in showroom condition. One is the aforementioned mummified Vega residing in Missouri; the other is in my garage.

Odd as it may seem, this little beauty went up for sale last year. I found it advertised in Hemmings and motored up to Blairston, New Jersey to check it out.

Well, there it was, big as life, never titled with only 65 miles on the odometer. The price I paid is top secret .... wild horses couldn't drag the fact out of me that with tax and license I paid $5900. So don't ask, my lips are sealed. Everything works, but ... listen to the wise old sages of this club. Change the fluids!. I did as soon as I got it home. Since my mechanic had a lift, I had time change the automatic transmission fluid and brake fluid.

Initially, he smirked about doing the brake fluid. Today, he is a convert. Fortunately, this car was kept in a heated storage facility, so degradation was minimal.

Another oddity cropped up that will be going into this beauty. On E-bay, which is an internet auction site and worth looking into (, I successfully bid on a underdash FM/8-track radio with an integral 20 waft amplifier. It is brand new and still in the original box. So be persistent and forever vigilant, you never know! Happy Motoring!

By William Gratchic

Reprinted, with permission from the author, from Cosworth Vega Magazine.

File: "spirit.htm"
Modified: 12 June 1998