Grandma’s Car? 1979 Chevrolet Malibu Classic

At first glance, this 1979 Malibu looks like the typical relic of days gone by. To most people driving past, this is just grandma’s old brown Malibu pulled from the pasture it was put out to after she stopped driving. Upon closer inspection, it seems that this isn’t a “grandma car” at all, or if it was she enjoyed driving something sporty. Though equipped with a Chevrolet 305 V8, this was the largest engine available in this car at that time, and it comes with something else that is definitely unique! Credit goes to Pat L. for the online find. Find it here on Craigslist in Michigan with a firm $5,000 price tag.

Under the hood sits a fairly standard 305 which is said to run poorly. What makes this Malibu unique is that this 305 is attached to an M20 4-speeed manual transmission! According to the seller, only 1,903 4-speed Malibus were built in 1979 making this a fairly unique and special vehicle. Though this car has certainly seen some use, it has been removed from barn storage after a decade long nap and the fact that it is currently running at all is a good sign. The seller recommends going through the brakes (also poor) as well as the engine after the car spent so much time sitting.

Need further proof that someone wanted an unassuming car that was fun to drive? Not only is the manual shifter visible in this picture, so are the optional bucket seats! This car also has air condition and an optional gauge package that is not pictured in the ad. Aside from a tear in the driver’s seat and the lack of headliner fabric, the interior of this Malibu is in excellent shape considering it looks like this car did not receive much special treatment. With the bucket seats and the 4-speed, this Malibu would be a great cruiser that didn’t attract the attention of too many people. Having a flashy car is fun, but often attracts a little more attention than some of us are comfortable with!

After finding a following in many circles from low-rider enthusiasts to drag racers, this generation of Malibu is getting sort of tough to find in unmolested original condition, let alone equipped with a factory 4-speed! This Malibu Classic is all original and unmolested, though it will need some minor rust repair to be completely solid. It will need floorpan repairs, quarter repairs, as well as some cosmetic interior fixes. That said, the trunk and frame are solid and the car is wearing its original paint. The seller is including a floorpan and a rust-free hood with the sale. Is this the perfect candidate for the high-horsepower build you’ve been planning? Or would you rather have an unusual daily driver?

Fast Finds


  1. Joe Cat

    How interesting, a 4 speed. Very unique.

    • Lane Sonnenberg

      Oh my. Nice project car with a 350 stroker sleeper father son bonding car. And good lines, memories!

  2. T Mel

    With a great body and interior this would definitely be a 5 grand car but as-is no way IMHO.

  3. Steve

    I also own a couple of g body malibus. Ive owned a 79 Malibu classic since 1997. It was originally pastel blue with a medium blue vinyl top, 267 v8, TH200 auto trans and a 2.29 7.5″ rear axle. Not it has a 468 BBC ( bolt is swap, only needed g body diesel springs), 200 4r overdrive and an 8.5″ 3.73 posi rear out of a 442. Picked up an 82 malibu wagon with 56k miles a couple weeks ago for $500. 229 v6, auto, light tan. It will be getting a vortec 350 with a carb and either a 700r4 or t5 I have on hand. (T5 would be more fun!) Solid but sun burned. Folks will be surprised when this car sells for the owner’s asking price. Personally, I would make a cash offer for about $3500 if I were in the market for another G body.

  4. Steve

    Too bad its so rusty. This car will require a frame off resto with a good dip or media blasting to get rid of the tin worms. What a shame. So much more rare and desirable than my 79 ‘bu with the 267 and auto trans.

    Like 1
  5. MH

    I would much rather have the van in the background. It’s more practical.

  6. dirtyharry

    This is another unusual BF car. Finding a 4 speed model in 79, didn’t even know they existed. I doubt they ever were sold in California, because they were not likely designed for California emissions. You guys at BF are doing a great job. I like this car, but being from So Cal, I wouldn’t even consider a rusty car. I can’t think anything this ordinary can be worth dealing with a never ending corrosion battle. Better to find a rust free model and swap the parts to make it a 4 speed.

  7. LAB3

    By Michigan standards this is about as solid a car as your going to find! The way I see it is if you’re looking for a three pedal car chances are you’re looking to make it go faster, in which case is having an original, unmolested car that important? At $5k I think not.

  8. Andre

    I pulled the pedal assembly, linkage and other manual bits (except for the actual trans) out of a rotten manual 3-speed junkyard one of these for my (84) Cutlass/T-56 project.

    IMO best way to convert a G-body to stick with OE stuff.. just gotta find one.

    Cool car.

  9. Rustytech Member

    I’ve seen three of these for sale here recently that were in much better shape than this car. All were priced under $3000. One was a V8 and two V6’s, all wee automatics. While the 4 speed would be nice, I don’t see it being worth an additional $2000, especially with the other work that’s needed on this car.

  10. XMA0891

    Where is all this neat stuff when I am looking? Proving that it IS out there somewhere. Great find!

  11. Chebby

    Ad mentions front and rear stabilizers, wonder if it has the FE3 sport suspension to match the stick, gauges, and bucket seats. It’s a neat car, but needs a lot of work for the price, and for what you’ll have when you’re done. Still, tucked down over some Grand National Rims it would look pretty sweet, even in brown.

    Like 1
  12. Joe M

    I had a blue Malibu just like this 2 dr, 6cyl, automatic. It was stolen; and recovered at a chop shop. It was the only car not chopped, I got it back with an 8 cyl installed. I like the manual setup, it reminds me of monte carlo seats. I wonder if the wheels are original or off a Camaro and painted?

  13. SubGothius

    Prolly best as a candidate for restomodding into a sleeper rod, similar formula as souping up an old X-body Nova coupe — start with the lightest GM body-on-frame platform of its era, stuff in the most potent motor you can find/build/afford, and Bob’s your tire-smoking uncle.

    • LAB3

      You forgot the quote marks on “Bob”

  14. boxdin

    I’ve been saying these are future classics for 20 yrs now. Are we there yet?

  15. Duane

    Oh my God. A diamond in a little ruff.

  16. sluggo

    I got one of these (Kinda-Sorta) Bought it off Craigslist about 4 years ago,, mine is a 4 door malibu but same year. Only has the V6 with Auto trans but the reason I bought it was very simple.
    It is the last year of full frame cars. Granted, by this point its a pretty flimsy frame,, but it IS a full frame! So, beef it up, pull most of the body and set one of my prewar rat rod coupes on it. (Going on it is a 1939 Plymouth coupe).
    It has useful things like Power disc brakes, Power steering, and lots of useful car swapping parts like full wiring harness, fuel tank, wipers and turn signals all of which add up on a custom street rod build.
    I paid $400 for mine with a bad camshaft (Wouldnt run right-these are known for bad cam gears which are plastic, and soft lobes. Easy fix for the motor) But mine is getting a V8 sbc.
    I have been selling bits and pieces off mine for years and I am constantly amazed about the steady stream of buyers for parts off these. Sold all kinds of weird little items like the plastic interior trim, had a LOT of demand for the dashboard assy.. Despite making clear I am keeping the bulk of the drivetrain I get calls on the rear end a lot. I still have a few odds and ends left if someone needs something.

  17. irocrob

    first one I have heard about with a 4 speed. I believe the Monte Carlo of this year could be bought with a manual as well. I think it is too much money needing floor repairs. Strange air cond and power windows yet a manual trans.


    This would have to be a labor of love. If the car was free it wouldn’t be worth the cost of restoring it.

  19. Charley

    I have to imagine the original buyer got the manual transmission to “save on gas”.

    Makes no sense of course seeing that the car has the larger of the V-8’s available but such was the late 1970’s.

  20. DweezilAZ

    Worth it if you love it. Still a good looking design, one of GM’s best.

    Immaterial what the internet crowd thinks it’s “worth” if it’s the “one”.

  21. Moparman Member

    This WOULD be the one IF:
    1. It wasn’t so RUSTY
    2. It wasn’t so far away
    3. If it wasn’t so firmly (over)priced (IMO)

    Aside from the list above, I would/could LOVE this car! :-)

  22. Bob C.

    Rip out that boat anchor of a 305 and put any old 350 2 barrel in. You can’t go wrong.

    Like 1
  23. Troy S.

    I think the original owner just preferred manual transmissions for various reasons, but I seriously doubt street racing was one of them.Still, it would have been odd to hear a car being “ran through the gears”, turn around and see it was this car.

  24. Brian B.

    I had a silver 1980 Malibu 2 dr factory 4 spd years ago and can say how fun they are to drive and rare! As the years go by that brown color on this one was one I loved when these were new. Then many years later I hated the color and now I’ve made a full circle by loving it! This car can and should be saved as it came from the factory.

  25. Keith

    My brother had a ’79 wagon with the 4 Spd.
    I had a factory order 2 door, F41, buckets, two tone black and silver, electric sunroof and a 256 CI

  26. Duane

    It’s a very rare car with that 4 speed. I’d have to do a concorous restoration on it. If it were an automatic, I’d build it into a cool street machine.


    I have one in Long Island.N.Y. for sale,,it’s a 1979 Chevy Malibu Classic W
    With a new 350 crate engine, lil over 1000k miles ,with A auto.350 turbo with shift kit. New radiator,Edelbrock intake N edel.Brock new 650 carb.headers N new exhaust system with tail pipes W chrome tips,new brakes N 4 new interior,buckets seats, console W B&M shifter,p.S. p.b.factory dash W all the gauges.. Cars is Matt black. Still needs a lil more work, but the most costly N important stuffs been done.I’m asking $12999 it’s neg.I’ve seen Alot of them for Alot more,with Alot less…

  28. Joe

    I owned a 79 factory 4 speed (267v8) in 1988 sold it late 1989. Over the last 10 plus years I have looked for one week after week searching the net. I found one about 2 months ago the guys pulled the 305 out put in a 350 not high HP but a good runner ! The car only has 40000 original miles and paint. It’s a Wisconsin car but garage kept its entire life. Sun has faded the int. But a nice ride I live it! I have also been only 1900 in 1979 where made?

    Like 1
  29. Schane Thomas

    I have loved these cars since my Dad bought my Mom a Brand New 2 Tone Silver and Grey Demonstrators Model in Sulphur Springs Tx in 1978. She kept it for 11 years. It had Red (Carmine) Interior. The 2 Tone Paint was separated by 2 Red Pin Stripes. Had the 305 with a 4 brl carb. It ran like a scawlded Dawg lol..for back then anyways lol. Well flash forward to last week and I have finally found myself one…only a 79 Model and solid Silver. One Lady owned since 79. It has 70k original miles and zero rust here in Northeast Texas all of it’s life. I only paid $2500 for it…grins. Yes I’m a Happy Camper. Is it perfect..Nope it’s not but will need some cleaning and some interior work. But I LOVE it just the same and I’m even considering painting both sides Grey from it’s Red Pin Stripes down to match the one my Mom had and the one I took my Drivers Test in back when I was 15.

    Like 2

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