058Doug Kind likes the unusual. So it was no surprise that he saw the possibilities in a tubbed 1971 Chevrolet Vega when he purchased it about twenty years ago.

It took Doug two years to shoehorn a 355 Chevy small block into the little econo-box.

Vegas of this vintage had short lives as a cheap on gas 4-banger designed to answer the bell as Detroit’s weapon against the small import invasion.

The original four cylinder motor would give a 0- 60 performance that could be measured with a sundial, so most Vegas were not exactly a hot rodder’s dream…until they put a little tweaked-up small block under the hood.

Then the biggest issue was traction to the rear wheels.

That was the only real problem Doug had with his hot rod 10-second street beast until recently when his Vega died a horrible death on the street in the witching hour.

A bungled armed robbery led to a police chase that placed Doug’s beloved Vega squarely in the middle of a crime scene. Bad judgment coupled with even worse driving and suddenly the Vega was wearing the getaway car when the guy lost control of the car.


Talk about collateral damage; the Vega was annihilated by a driver’s side collision with the Convenience Store Kid and his trusty uninsured steed.Plus his vintage Chevy truck became the second victim in the crash and Doug’s wife’s car was the third.

The crook hit a triple play in one stupid act…

That’s where things became very complicated for Doug. His Vega was DOA and he was on the hook for the whole thing. The police prevented Doug from further complicating matters with a little frontier justice and kept him in his house until they carted the guy off to his new home with built- in bars.

He was probably safer in jail that night.

Most guys get very attached to their cars and most guys wake up screaming in the night when they have a nightmare like Doug’s. Unfortunately Doug’s nightmare is real and now all he has left are the memories of his time with his Vega and its very fast small block ticker.

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It’s safe to say that the ghost of his ultra fast street machine will live on in a new body now that Doug has had a little time to grieve.



Stay tuned for a future return from the dead chapter in this Halloween story when Doug takes on his new winter project.

Jim Sutherland