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- Not to be confused with the Chevrolet Vega, a 1970s subcompact.
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door roadster|
|Layout||Front-engine, rear-wheel drive|
|Engine||136 in3 (2.2 L) Flathead V8|
The Ford Vega was the winning entry in a Ford-sponsored automotive design contest completed in 1953. Only one example was created.
Vince Gardner was a designer who began his career as a clay modeler working for Gordon M. Buehrig during the design of the Cord 810. The Vega was conceived as an entry to a Ford-sponsored design contest, Henry Ford II expressed interest and provided the additional financing needed for the completion of the lightweight, two-seat roadster. Gardner's design was two years in production and per the contest rules was based on an Anglia chassis, the lightweight body was fabricated from aluminum by metalsmith Emil Deidt. Some styling touches, such as the pop-up headlamps, were Cord-inspired details. Power came from a Phil Weiand-built Ford flathead V8 modified with dual carburetors, high-compression cylinder heads and tube-type exhaust headers. Celebrities such as Groucho Marx and Howard Hughes were offered private viewings of the Vega by invitation of Henry Ford II. Henry Ford II proudly displayed the car at the firm's 50th anniversary.
Gardner had planned on producing an inexpensive fiberglass version of the Vega to be offered in kit form, unfortunately, the rights to the vehicle's design were the property of Ford according to the rules of the original contest. While Ford did show enthusiasm the Vega was a one-off project that ultimately did not enter series production. As an exercise, however, it was a success. The production of a stylish roadster kindled interest within Ford concerning making its own modern sporty roadster, which led directly to the creation of the highly successful Ford Thunderbird in 1955. The Thunderbird convertible held the same niche as the Vega would have. After the introduction of the Ford Mustang in 1964, the Thunderbird shifted emphasis away from these performance aspirations and towards increased luxury, so as not to cannibalize sales within the Ford enterprise.
The single car was displayed for several years in the Ford Rotunda Exhibition Center in Dearborn, Michigan, remaining in the property of Ford. In the 2006 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction it was sold for $385,000 to private collector Sam Pack, in whose possession it remains.