350 V8 Power: 1978 Chevrolet Malibu

Two big changes would take place for the Chevrolet Chevelle in 1978. First, they would be downsized and lose up to 1,000 lbs. in weight yet be as roomy as before. And second, they would drop the Chevelle name altogether in favor of the Malibu, which had been the top-line series all along. This ’78 Malibu Classic (as per the VIN) has received some custom touches both cosmetically and mechanically and presents well with few flaws. Located in Blaine, Ohio, this Chevy is available here on Barn Finds Classifieds for $15,000.

To compete in the “new” mid-size market, Chevrolet cooked up the Chevelle in 1964. Decked-out versions would be called Malibu’s and three generations of the cars would be built through 1977. It would serve as the platform for the reincarnated El Camino pickup and the Monte Carlo personal luxury car, as well. With the diet that GM’s intermediates went on in 1978, the Chevelle name was dropped, and the Malibu carried the torch going forward. Upscale versions would be called the Malibu Classic, like the seller’s car. In sport coupe form, the Classic would be very popular that year, accounting for the production of 61,000 Malibu’s alone.

The seller’s car has been treated to several upgrades. On the exterior, the burnt orange paint may be a substitute for brown which some scratches by the rear bumper point out. And it wears a “shaker” style hood that would not have been stock, which is flanked by stripes on both the hood and trunk lid. It all works well on this car, especially with the Cragar mag wheels that have been added. No rust is present including on the undercarriage. Inside, the custom touches continue, with racing-style bucket seats (that we hope match the back seat) and aftermarket gauges.

Mileage on the odometer reads just under 65,000, which would be low for a 43-year-old car. Under the hood resides a 350 cubic-inch V8 engine that has received some nice bling. The VIN code “M” identifies the as-built motor being a 201 V6, which would have been standard fare in the Malibu that year, so it looks as though a more robust substitute has been made. A TH-350 automatic transmission rounds out the package with a nice-sounding side-mounted exhaust to boot. With no known mechanical work needed, this car is likely to impress when you roll into vintage car events.


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  1. 8banger 8banger Member

    Not so sure if I’d be exactly impressed….

    Like 11
    • Ricky

      What in the crystal meth is going on with that engine compartment?

  2. 8banger 8banger Member

    Now the jaunty positioning of the air cleaner, however…

    • Tony Primo

      I had to look twice at that one too 8banger. It’s not the air cleaner. The heater hoses are far too short. They are supposed to lay over the inner wheel well to keep heat away from the carburetor.

      Like 1
  3. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    Not sure if I would roll this one into any vintage car events.
    More likely I could see taking it for a trip down to Golden Corral . .

    Like 12
  4. Cadmanls Member

    Get the side pipes off and off to the exhaust shop would be a good start. G bodies are good foundations so what happened?

    Like 15
  5. Fred W

    Not a fan of side pipes on this one. Liked my ’83 El Camino though

    Like 7
  6. Chancho

    Russ, you are killing me with the apostrophes. Apostrophes do NOT make words plural. Malibus, not Malibu’s.

    Like 2
    • chrlsful

      gramar police? in the garage? suck it up…

  7. Don Page

    Price is about three times what it’s worth.

    Like 6
  8. Oregon-Guy78

    This was not used as the basis for the Monte Carlo, that’s a different platform

    Like 1
    • SubGothius

      Incorrect. This generation (’82-on) of Malibu and Monte Carlo were both built on the G-platform, tho’ the minor variant used for the Monte and its other-division kin was designated as G-special.

      Like 5
  9. David

    Why not go all the way? It’s time to convert this one to a manual transmission

    Like 5
  10. Doug from MD.

    This car screams I’m a red neck and don’t care! Put a rebel flag bumper sticker on it and be done. Jokemobile.

    Like 6
    • PatrickM

      Put that rebel flag in the back window…a full sized, color see thru shade. LOL.

      Like 3
  11. PaulG

    C’mon guys, it’s someone’s pride & joy and cracking jokes is “less than nice”
    We all have different taste & style, and I agree there’s a boy-racer effect going on, it’s still a decent looking ride with modifications that could be reversed if one chooses to.
    That said, it seems overpriced and perhaps the owner is willing to negotiate..
    Good luck with the sale.

    Like 11
    • Dave Peterson

      Agreed. No one goes to this length without an overall defining vision. I had a GrandAm as a company car in 1979 with a 301 and a handling package that was a decent car. This one is just modified for a different eye. We had different expectation in those days and we had to find driving pleasure wherever it appeared.

      Like 3
    • rustylink

      advertising this car for 15K you are just asking for it…

      Like 5
  12. Ernest W

    Not a fan of the side pipes either but that’s an easy fix.
    Also, that is not a shaker hood, cowl induction !

    Like 2
  13. Lance Platt

    The Malibu is modified enough not to be a true survivor, antique or collector vehicle in shows or circles where that is the basis of judging. I can see the logic in adding more comfortable bucket seats and a 5.7 liter engine in an Era where the 5.0 V8 was the largest offering among anemic choices. However, the changes are to the personal taste of the previous owner and may not be shared with enthusiasm by a prospect buyer.

    Like 5
  14. Don Eladio

    Let’s just call a spade a spade. This car is a complete mess. It is a hillbilly hotrod that I am sure is being sold because the owner got caught, for the third time in two years, with a meth lab in his trailer home.

    By the way, author, do you really think that is a “shaker” scoop? That is nothing more than a stick-on “cowl induction-style” scoop that is, like the rest of the car, junk.

    Like 2
  15. Fordfan

    The center a /c vents point down just like my ’78 Malibu classic did
    They got loose and can’t adjust level of up
    All these cars lower door plastic change color .mine went from red to pink

  16. Jeff58

    Not a fan of those yellow stripes, but to each his own.

    Like 2
  17. DavidH

    I had to shake my head and wonder at the redneck comments. Where I am from you might be a redneck if you own a barn. What is wrong with a redneck loving on his car? Seems to me like someone reading material on a website named Barnfinds could be considered a redneck! I wonder how many high profile “rednecks” made their living from cars modified from their original factory specs.

    Like 3
  18. Ricky

    I used to do cheap upgrades and such as a teenager and my dad would tell me to just leave it factory. Now I just leave it factory and it’s enough work just maintaining it as such.

  19. chrlsful

    nota cheb guy, these R almost the last (gen) of the Chevelle (Malibu Classic). But I AM a fan of this gen (3rd) – acc the models (waggy, elcamino, etc). Love the square grill, the curved rear window/head board in the El, etc

    • karl

      And you commented about grammar police ??????? What language is this ??

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