5k: Few Remain: 1975 Pontiac Astre SJ Safari Wagon
If you loved GM’s subcompact Vega, (and who doesn’t?!?!) then you’ll love the badge engineered versions for GM’s other brands. The H-body offerings went up from the basic Vega and they included the luxurious Oldsmobile Starfire, sporty Buick Skyhawk, and the Pontiac Astre — whose purpose was as confounding as the name. Find this 1975 Pontiac Astre SJ Safari Wagon offered for $4,950 in Victor, ID via craigslist.
This Pontiac version of Chevrolet Vega was offered with a Pontiac designed front end and badges for a few bucks more than the basic Vega. The SJ trim featured upgraded nylon upholstery, nicer carpets, rally instruments, a high output 2bb carburetor, and a 4-speed manual gearbox.
The Astre is powered by the same 2.3 liter die cast aluminum block inline-4 with cast inline single overhead cam that pushed out something like 87 horsepower and 122 ft-lbs of torque. The Chevy 2300 isn’t particularly loved by folks today, and the 1977 Astre was available with a version of the Iron Duke inline-4 — a big improvement in durability.
The only thing that would be better than this Astre Safari Wagon is the limited production “Li’l Wide Track” version…if you see one for sale — send it here: email@example.com
How did we all miss this classic from the forward hinged hood Thursday Twister??
Okay, this one's been sleeved, but it'd still be interesting to know how many of the Vega 2.3s are still around.
The Astre didn't come around until the big bumper was already blighting the Vega's snout, but the Astre nose looks rather better as far as I'm concerned.
I owned 3 or 4 in the late 70"s. The 2 bbl carb really improved the performance over the earlier single barrel versions. Lots of plastic inside. Vega's and Astres didn't have the best build quality, but I don't recall them arriving with dented front fenders (and no headliners). I wish folks wouldn't really super over exaggerate stuff (my pet peeve!).
M5- I've told you a million times, don't exaggerate. -Vince
The Oldsmobile Starfire and Buick Skyhawk were not direct derivatives of the Vega. The only "badge engineered version" was the Pontiac Astre which, by the way, made its debut in Canada in 1973 (with 'skinny' bumpers!), a few years before it was introduced in the US. The Olds Starfire and Buick Skyhawk did have Chevy and Pontiac siblings but those were the Monza and Sunbird, respectively. Though all were very similar as far as the platform sheet metal and suspension was concerned, only the Vega and Astre shared most of the outer sheet metal and they, therefore, appeared to be virtually the same cars. The Monza, Sunbird, Skyhawk, and Starfire shared much of the same underpinnings but were entirely different from the Vega/Astre models when dealing with everything above the rocker panels.
I own that blue Astre now, picked it up for $2k