Back in the early 1970’s the compact car craze was all the rage here in the United States. Insurance companies were cracking down on big liter, high horsepower cars and because of this American manufacturers began developing the first in a long line of compacts. The Chevrolet Vega was one such car and was produced between 1971-1977. The Vega was a good looking little hatchback that offered moderate performance for a decent price. What you may not know however is that GM actually worked in conjunction with the Southern Pacific Railroad do design a new method of shipping these cars across the country. The result of their joint venture was the Vert-A-Pac rail car and it held 30 Vegas versus the normal 18 that could be held in a traditional tri-level autorack.
By conducting low speed and vibration crash tests, Chevrolet was able to determine that the little vertical Vega’s wouldn’t be damage in the event of a collision. Their ultimate goal was to deliver the Vegas to dealers full of fluids, such as oil and transmission and have them ready to roll as soon as they got off the train. New engine oil baffling systems were developed as were special carburetor float bowls that would prevent fuel leakage due to their upright stance. This was some pretty trick thinking and engineering for back in the day, but I can’t help but wonder if it ended up leading to any mechanical problems for the little hatchbacks.