Factory Stick And 18K Miles: 1980 Malibu

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It’s hard to put into words just how cool this car is. What would otherwise be a very ordinary but very clean survivor-grade example of the Chevy Malibu gets kicked up a notch here for its unusual feature list, including a three-speed stick and positraction rear end! Find it here on craigslist for $10,900 and thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for the find. 

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I can’t really picture who walks into the Chevy dealership for a plain-jane Malibu wagon and then proceeds to spec it out like a Stingray! It’s even got a rear spoiler, power brakes and the 229 CI six-cylinder. This station wagon was loaded and it remains in highly preserved condition today thanks to its ridiculously low 18,000 original miles. Despite being spec’d out like a driver’s car, it didn’t get used very much, but I’m dying to know if it was originally used as a track-side support rig.

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There it is, a row-it-yourself-gear shift sticking right up through the console, completely unexpected and out of place in a station wagon like this.  I wonder how many of these were even made when new – 20? 30? 50? I can’t imagine it being a popular option, unless you’re one of “us” car guys who wanted to feel the sensation of speed even when hauling the kiddos around. It’s nice to see the original radio still attached and the leather shift boot looks clean.

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A rocket ship it is not, but who cares? You can use this minty fresh wagon for errand running and not feel too bad about racking up the miles – within reason. See, even though it has impressively low mileage, it will never be worth much more than the current asking price (in my opinion), so you can use this Malibu for the occasional grocery run without feeling too bad – and still be the only one at cruise night with a 3-speed Malibu wagon!

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Comments

  1. Rock On

    This car is so sweet! Would love to take it out for a Sunday drive.

  2. 70kingswood

    I really like it and the stick shift just makes it even cooler. BUT if it was mine that engine and tranny would be in storage quickly and replaced with an LS and 6 speed, or at least a hot 327 and Muncie 4speed! the factory rearends are weak so I would plan on a 9 inch ford. finish it up with some Rally wheels and taxi hub caps and a dark tint on the windows, and A/C!

  3. Anthony

    Very nice condition. the problem is at the end of the day its still an 80 malibu with a 229 six. Yuk! My Dad had an 81 Malibu coupe with the 229. I always thought it drove lousy compared with his prior cars a 68 Skylark and a 63 Bel Air. Did i memtion the 229 was slow. Mow if you could afford to buy this and mod it with an LS emgine and se suspension mods it would probably be a great driver

    • Bob

      My younger brother special ordered a 79 Malibu coupe with the F41 suspension, 305V8, 4 speed manual and tallest gear you could get I forget what that was a 3.42 maybe, A/C, painted wheels, dog dish hub caps and white letter radials. It was a nice driver. Not a lot of power from the 305 and could not get the 350 with the manual but was still a really nice car optioned like that.

      Like 1
  4. Mark H

    Back in those days, anything to get maximum mileage was “king”. I had a 1980 Malibu Classic 2 dr Hardtop that I bought new. V6/Auto – AC had to be installed aftermarket. Front brake rotors never lasted long because they had been “thinned down” & while I had no issues with the auto trans like some people did, that series was also a thinned down version of the GM transmissions that preceded.

    I had an elderly uncle that bought a new ’80 Citation at the time – thing barely made it 30 miles out from the dealer before a major failure. Dealer took it back and there happened to be a basic ’80 Malibu 4-door sedan – V6 and floor shift manual – he took that.

    I don’t think that is a spoiler on the back – I think it was intended to keep the back tailgate window clean – used to be a feature on station wagons and SUVs. Suspect that fell by the wayside because of wind resistance.

    • Utes

      @ Mark H…
      That device on the roof is an exhaust fume deflector. W/the tailgate window down, air turbulence moving over the roof, in concert w/the deflector, prevents tail pipe fumes from entering the vehicle.

  5. Mark H

    Funny Anthony – about the 229V6. Probably 20-25 years later I was still having nightmares that I was in my Malibu trying to get up to highway speeds with cars and trucks coming up fast behind me.

  6. erikj

    I like this also. I like the 327,4spd. Pop the hood, and see what the reaction you get from people. I also like the ls/6pd, but as a gearhead from the 70,s Its always cool to see a old school 327/4spd-just plain simple and fun.
    Never thought the day would come when I like a wagon.

  7. Rock On

    GM used some very low numerical gears in 1980 to help with fuel economy, 2:41 and 2:56 were common. This car has the optional 2:73 with posi. Should get up to highway speed just fine.

    • Utes

      @ Rock On…
      My ’92 Roadmaster sedan has 2.56’s & the thing literally sips gas even w/the LO5 under the hood. Heeding my owner’s manual to not use 4th (OD) under 45, I find the trans still correctly locks the converter in 3rd, so using OD @ lower speed(s) just adds needless functional wear to the trans but adds to its longevity. Factory advice is inevitably correct.

      Like 1
  8. Matt

    I’ve seen one of these “not a wagon” set up like this. This must be a rare option for the numbers built. And never seen a wagon ! This has Bad Ass wrote all over it. I love these body style cars. I had a Pontiac Safari Wagon with the 301 and it was a turd but was a great cruiser. Tricked out corvette rally’s baby moon caps. I blacked out the windows and blacked out the door post to match windows and done all this in 1986. Great car would love to own

    • Pontiactivist

      Kinda like my LeMonster? Lol

      Like 1
  9. Dean

    This is very similar to the Iraqi Taxis that could be bought dirt cheap here in Canada.
    Apparently Iraq special ordered a bunch of 1980 Malibu that were all 4drs with the 229 and 3spd standard, they also all had air. Apparently the order was cancelled and GM Canada disposed of them. A family member bought one new here in Calgary. Use to see a lot of these around town but not too many around any more.

    • norm Betcher

      Had one. Mine was an 81. Great beater with more the adequate pwr

    • Greg

      Very interesting. I’m in calgary too and this is such a great story. I’d love to see one in the wild.

      Similar to the Saudi Syclone which had a sunbird gt Canadian metric instrument cluster after being returned from Saudi. I have a U.S. Syclone but would love a Saudi

    • Nova Scotian

      My pal had a raqui taxi too. 3speed on the tree. It was ok poking around town in. But that’s about it. No power to speak about. Same car in auto was pretty much same in power. Yawn…that “spoiler” on the roof is to allow air to rush into the rear cabin when driving, cause the rear door windows were fixed. Closed. Nice survivor, probably imported from Iraq. No salt there. Importer realized after driving it around that it has little power and ventilation.

  10. DA

    Nothing more than a stripped down Malibu wagon, nothing special. Use it for a work truck.

  11. AMCSTEVE

    11 GRAND HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH no

  12. Another Bob

    I think there were a few Iraq spec wagons running around Ontario. My roomate had one for the longest time. The gear ratios they chose were just awful with that 3 speed.

  13. tigerll

    do you know how much of a dog that car with that engine was/is. a neighbor of mine had a 4 door in denver with that engine. at denver’s altitude of 5280 feet, the car would barely pull itself away from a stoplight. it was actually scarey to drive, because it wouldn’t get out of it’s own way. keep that car in the flatlands, don’t bring it to the mountains.

  14. RicK

    I Just Hate It When The Writer Capitalizes Every Word In The Sentence!

    • al8apex

      that is some weird Microsoft issue

      You don’t see that with a Mac user

      • grant

        Pretty sure it’s just illiteracy. ..

  15. Chebby

    Not exactly a Sting Ray…more like a special order by ‘Stingy Ray’.

    This is a base-level car. Not even A/C…and BTW the back door windows don’t roll down at all, you just get those little wing flaps. Manual 3-speed was technically the standard offering, even though most came with automatics. Little six and the highway gears will feel pretty poky. I always thought these were handsome cars, but they weren’t very well built. My uncle had one, and it was his last GM car ever. The rear hatch window fell out more than once.

    If this one has lasted this long, it’s probably a good one. Some shorter gears in the rear end and a set of nice GM rally rims, and it would be a nice driver. But I wouldn’t pay more than $2,500 for it.

  16. RandyS

    This was not ordered by a “car guy”. This was ordered as the least expensive way to get a wagon.

    • Frank M

      Least expensive is Right on. I had a friend that bought the same optioned car in 79 in a baby blue color. No A/C and we lived in Tucson, AZ. Good thing it was dry heat! LOL

  17. Tommy

    I had an 1981 El Camino with the 229 and a three speed on the floor. I put over 200,000 miles on the thing and never changed the clutch. still running when I sold it, I almost wonder where it is now.

  18. daniel wright

    I remember the interior trim being almost bio degradable on Chevy’s of this era. Our Nova had a perfect interior except for the plastic on the A pillars literally rotting away.

  19. Car Guy

    You gotta wonder how many were actually made like this?

  20. Jumping g

    Had a 1979 wagon with a transplant 350 it used to turn a lot of heads when I would blister the tires off it .

  21. S Ryan

    I had a 78 wagon 305 4spd. Bought from a farmer in Wisconsin, always finding hay in the weirdest places. Great car not much on performance, but crazy no option car V-8 4spd. Wish I would have kept it.

    Like 1
  22. roselandpete

    It would be interesting to know what it actually sells for.

  23. Neil

    I always get a kick out of the folks that can only put a car down, and nit pick everything about it. The fact of the matter is, this is a remarkable survivor. Not your cup of tea, that’s cool. But, this car is damn near perfect. Even the tail gate is perfect with no signs of wear.
    Nope, it ain’t no hot rod, was never meant to be. Sure, it’s a saltine box car, but some folks like simple design. I would have never considered this car in the day, but as I’ve aged, my tastes have changed.
    Love the 3 speed on the floor.
    Survivor wise, they don’t get much cleaner than this example.
    Have a blast with your thumbs down !

    • Chebby

      All true, but will you cough up $11k for it?

      • Neil

        No Sir,
        I wouldn’t, but… someone probably will. Great in town wheels… like going to Home Depot, or around the lake.
        That’s the thing about the open market. You probably wouldn’t buy my used high heels, but… someone might. Grin.

  24. grant

    It IS a remarkable survivor. As for it being hard to put into words how cool it is, let me help. “…………….”

  25. ROTAG999

    My Mom had a 80 Monte Carlo with the 229-V-6 with auto trans and gas mileage rearend gears. It was gutless and was really bad trying to go over the pass the tranny was always hunting for the right gear and never was happy including me driving it.

  26. RJ

    https://desmoines.craigslist.org/cto/5838159329.html

    Reminded me of this for sale nearby. Crazy price for this El Camino and for this Mali wagon. When my dad ran his car lot he picked up nice Malibu/El Camino examples nearly every week for $500-1000.

  27. Steve

    These are fun cars! I have a 79 malibu classic two door i have owned since 1996. It was my daily diver for about ten years. Originally powder blue with a medium blue vinyl top, 267 v8, auto (th200?) and 2.29 gears in the puny 7.5″ rear axle. First mod was to ditch the stock wheels and caps for set of 15″ rallys. 7″ front and 8″ rear with 275/60r15. Fit perfectly! It looked tough at least. A buddy gave me another 7.5″ rear, also a 2.29 (?!?!) and I immediately swapped in some 3.42 gears, still open, cause i was broke. It was like night and day! Mileage actually stayed about the same cause i wasnt driving around with the pedal to the floor. Next i installed a 200 4r. Then it got a set of bell texh 2″ drop spindles and rear coils. Even better. Then i built a nice little 300-350 hp 355. Comp 268 cam, Camel hump heads, edelbrock performer, q jet, headers. Unfortunately this was about the time they were taking the zinc out of oil and didnt tell anyone. I wiped the cam out and ruined the crank. What do you do? Pull it and build it into a 383! Performer air gap intake brodix track 1 heads, comp extreme 4×4 (yes 4×4) cam, i forget the torque, 750 holley dp, but unfortunately i used kb hypereutectic pistons and broke the top ring lands on three pistons. Knocked a hole in #1 cylinder. Ran a best of 13.40 around 100mph in the 1/4, with 7.5″ and mickey thompson et streets on back before it self destructed. All steel with ac and full interior. Later scored an 8.5″ out of a g body hurst olds. It didnt have a posi though, so i picked one up on ebay and installed it. Now it has a mild 468 Bbc with an rv cam. Currently getting a new cam And Top end with aluminum rect port heads 850 dp carb and single plane intake. Saving my nickels for a set of $700 hooker 2241 Swap headers. Currently has a goodmark 2″ cowl hood and whole car is rattle can flat black with rocket 17 and 18″ wheels. I have had it so long and swapped so Many engine i joke and call it my own “Project X”!

  28. Steve

    I only paid $1200 for the 79 coupe. I had some good times in g bodies. almost forgot that before the 79 coupe, i also had a silver 81 wagon with maroon interior with a 305 auto. It had been hit on the ds quarter and i scored it for $750. Ran and drove and had cold ac. My friends and i used to all summer to haul us back and forth from austin to new braunfels to go tubing on the guadalupe and comal rivers. Good times. One time we had about 8 people in it, ac blasting and she started getting hot. I cut the ac but she started missing. Turned out the cheap china hei module couldnt stand the heat, even after it cooled off. Kept dumping ice from the cooler on the intake amnifold and crutched her in to austin. Swapped the module for a good gm part, flushed the radiator And she was back on the road. I carry a
    Spare gm hei to this day but have never needed it, as all my cars
    With hei already have a gm module, including my 72 cheyenne with a new skip white chinese hei dist. It quit about the third time is started it! Sold the car to a guy i worked FOR who was in a bind for a car on payments for what inpaid for it, but he flaked and i only got about half!

  29. Brad

    I was just wondering why you use the word “loaded” in the description ? Is the tranny a 3, 4, or 5 speed ? No A/C, no power accessories, and a 6 to boot. This would have been REALLY cool if it WERE loaded, with a 350, 5 speed, power everything, and buckets. That being said, it’s still a really cool wagon.

  30. Michael

    That is not a spoiler on the back. Just a cheaper way than adding a wiper to be able to see out of the back window. The 3.8 was not “sting ray”, just cheap. And the stick shift was only available so that they could justify charging more for the automatic. There were still buyers during this era that ” refused” to pay extra for a “slushpump” and is how I learned to drive in a 79 Plymouth Volare wagon with a lazy half dozen and a 3 speed with overdrive manual. I think that the price on this is a bit over the top, but if you compare this to the price if a new car it’s not so bad. These 80 s Chevys were a lot more reliable than their Ford or Mopar contemporaries. And I have seen a Fairmont stick shift wagon.

    Like 1
  31. Ck

    C’ mon ,this is way cool you don’t see these every day. Yaa its a low buck car Who cares .These make good Drag cars ,although this one is to nice for that.This is an instant Hot Rod Just add a SBC and a 4SPD.

  32. John M

    This was my student driver car with an automatic. What a dog with horrific build quality and cheap materials. Nonetheless, this is very cool.
    -Remove 6 and add small block 350
    -Add power steering
    -Add T5 trans
    Done!

    • Steve

      The T5 alone would improve things dramatically!

  33. Ralph

    I bought a wrecked ’81 Chevy Caprice with the 229 V6 in 1984 and put it back together for a daily driver. Man, that thing was a slug. My mother’s friend bought it from me and loved it. They drove it to Branson, Missouri and back and when they pulled into the driveway and shut it off, the crankshaft broke in half. I told him to go back with a 350, but wouldn’t you know it….he went and had another 229 installed. Sheeesh!

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