During the 1970s, U.S. automakers were forced to divert a lot of their development money towards meeting new safety and emissions regulations. This had automakers looking for ways to cut costs in other areas. One of the easiest ways that this was accomplished was by parts sharing between an automaker’s different models. In the past drivetrain, engine, and transmission parts were the most commonly shared parts between an automobile brand’s different models. However by the 1970s the sharing of interior parts and components became much more commonplace within any given automobile brand’s car models.
For most cars this wasn’t really an issue but when interior components found in a car brand’s budget oriented models were also found in that same car brand’s upscale or luxury oriented models this angered the loyal customers of these upscale car models. One of the most egregious examples was when Chevrolet starting with the 1976 model year removed the Corvette’s attractive steering wheel and replaced it with the same 4-spoke steering wheel available on one of Chevrolet’s budget oriented subcompact cars, the Vega. Making matter worse this Vega steering wheel was mandatory for all 1976 Corvettes.
Fortunately Chevrolet did put the Corvette’s twin flag logo in the center hub of this steering wheel to differentiate it slightly from the Vega’s steering wheel. However it needed more, if this Vega steering wheel had been available in a leather wrapped version it would have looked a little more upscale and been more befitting of a Corvette steering wheel, unfortunately Chevrolet never offered a leather wrap version of the Vega steering wheel. Chevrolet also used the Vega steering wheel on other Chevrolet models at the time such as the Chevelle Laguna S3 and some Camaro models along with many other Chevrolets produced during the 1970s. To be fair this 4-spoke Vega steering wheel was not a bad looking wheel, it had a sporty look and was much better looking than the standard Vega steering wheel.
The Vega steering wheel from 1977-1979 was the Corvette’s standard steering wheel. For the 1977 model year Chevrolet realized that the Vega steering wheel had not been well received by many 1976 Corvette buyers and offered a new and more upscale leather wrapped steering wheel as an option. To get this new upscale three spoke steering wheel a buyer had to select the N37 tilt wheel option for the 1977-1979 Corvette. This steering was more befitting of the Corvette’s image and was a very popular option, with a vast majority of 1977-1979 Corvette buyers opting for it even though the N37 tilt wheel option was a pricey at the time $165-$195 depending on model year.
When the 1980 Corvette arrived the Vega steering wheel was gone however over time it has not been forgotten. Ironically it’s received a resurgence popularity due to it’s rarity especially among 1977-1979 Corvettes. A high quality exact reproduction of the Corvette’s Vega steering wheel is currently available for those restoring their 1976-1979 Corvettes. The Vega steering wheel era was the last time a production Corvette had a steering wheel that it shared with other Chevrolet models.
Click on the link below, to watch the video of this article via Old Car Memories’ YouTube channel:
Written contents in this article – © 2024 Pete Dunton (Old Car Memories) – All Rights Reserved