Manual Equipped G-Body: 1980 Chevrolet Malibu Wagon

After deciding that my brother’s 1979 El Camino was too rusty to save, my dad and brother set out to find a replacement car to build up as a hot rod. While perusing through local junkyards in upper Bucks County, Pennsylvania, they stumbled upon a 1980 Chevrolet Malibu station wagon. Though the car was clean and rust-free, it unfortunately did not have a title, so my dad and my brother decided to pass on the car; my brother ended up with a 1985 Camaro Sport Coupe with T-tops. Ever since then, I have kept an eye out for affordable G-body Malibu wagons online and on the side of the road. Though this 1980 Malibu Wagon is a bit out of my price range, the car features just 19,000 miles since new and is one of 60 built with the three-speed manual transmission. Find it here on craigslist in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, for $9,995 US.

After a 13-year span of being a trim package for the Chevelle, the Malibu became its own model in 1978, replacing the Chevelle and featuring a fresh, boxy redesign. Now a G-body (the original Malibu was an A-body), the Malibu came in a coupe, a sedan, and a wagon, and featured a platform a foot shorter and a curb weight 500 to 1000 pounds less than the previous generation. The Malibu would be discontinued after 1983, due to the front-wheel drive Celebrity cannibalizing sales. This Malibu is a 1980 model, and comes in a four-door station wagon body style resplendent in a darker, almost blood-like red. Originally bought new in Victoria, British Columbia by an elderly woman, the car was purchased by the seller from her estate. The paint is said to be mostly original on the car, with the exception of a scrape that was “fixed very well”, and shines like it is brand new, mostly due to the fact that the car was garage-kept. The original wheels and hubcaps were swapped for color-matched Rally wheels, but they are included with the sale of the car; I personally prefer the wheels currently on the car.

Tying in with the grandma specs, this Malibu wagon is powered by the base 200 cubic inch V6. Rated at 94 horsepower and 154 lb-ft of torque, the 200 V6 features a M2ME two barrel. Though this V6 is not much on power, since this car has low mileage, I would leave it for now. Though the seller does not mention the mechanical condition of the drivetrain, judging by the cleanliness of the engine bay, I would stab a guess and say the drivetrain is in tip-top shape. At some point down the road, I would consider swapping in a built 350 four bolt main small block and perhaps swap in a Tremec TKO 600, but as I mentioned before, I would leave the drivetrain as-is for now.

Am I the only one who got excited about the manual floor shift and the third pedal? That’s right, folks: in the middle of this tan-beige interior is a floor-shift three speed manual. The shifter does look a little dated by 1980 standards, but it’s definitely an interesting conversation piece, especially on a Malibu wagon. On the inside, everything looks to be in great shape, with minimal to no wear, which makes sense considering the car’s low mileage. Manual steering is not ideal, but I dig the manual windows and the fact that this car has power brakes (I’m guessing disc brakes, but you never know). What are your thoughts on this clean, survivor low-spec Malibu station wagon?

Fast Finds


  1. Rock On Member

    Yeah, I would rock this!

    Like 1
  2. jaymes

    i see three options, its clean if this is what you want

    Like 1
  3. Dusty Stalz

    I live in Langley! Cool car but wow the dollars man lol.

    • Otto Nobedder

      Dusty-is road salt an issue there?
      What issues are there involved in importing this to US?

      • Dusty Stalz

        I’ll just say that you don’t see them in the road that much any more here. Cars dang near as old as me so I’d give it a good look underneath if I was gonna buy.

    • Terry C.

      Well then, keep an eye out for the ’69 Cutlass convertible project I’ll be posting here very soon! Along with the ’91 Caprice cop car… Both in town.

      • Dusty Stalz

        Cool will do!

  4. Steve R

    Cool car.

    It would be great driver with a mild small block and a manual transmission that has two more gears.

    Steve R

  5. 86 Vette Convertible

    I like it. What a great parts runner that would be.

  6. rustylink

    10 large for a 4spd stripped wagon with a 200 six?. No thanks.

    • Mountainwoodie

      Is that Canadian Dollars? That floor shift is sooooo weird and yet so right. The Six is underwhelming but what an unusual outfitting of a wagon. 4 on the floor and a Six………sleepah…..

      • Nrg8

        3 speed

        Like 1
    • Mountainwoodie

      Is that Canadian Dollars? That floor shift is sooooo weird and yet so right. The Six is underwhelming but what an unusual outfitting of a wagon. 3 on the floor and a Six………sleepah…..slowww sleppah

  7. John T

    I want this car real bad just the way it is with both sets of wheels. Unfortunately, Not only is it in Canada but it is on the west coast just a bit north of the border from Seattle. This could be a blessing in disguise as it is way too far away from me in Massachusetts to be feasible.

    Like 1
  8. XMA0891

    My dad had one of these! I do not remember it’s exact year, but I’d pin his to an ’83. It absolutely had this drivetrain configuration. At the time, it seemed that these wagons were everywhere, but I recall everyone being amazed that ours had a big, silver 3 speed manual transmission. As this ’80 was just one of 60, would imagine by ’83 that number would have been even lower. Our wagon was so ’80’s: No horsepower, even less with the A/C running; poorly-built velour split-bench power seats… The three speed was really clunky. A lot of miles, a lot memories to go with that car…
    Great find!

  9. DrinkinGasoline

    Now here is a car that would actually benefit from a…..
    (cough, snort, gack)…. SBC and a trans upgrade. I would put brown paper grocery bags in the back stuffed with newspaper but with some non-perishables sticking out of the tops of them.
    Then go “Sleepin” !

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Let’s not forget the color coordinated Afghan blanket across the back seat, a box of tissues, and the St. Christopher medalion for the true “Lil ‘Ol Lady from Pasadena look” !

      Like 1
  10. Otto Nobedder

    Same bolt pattern as SBC or 4.3 V6 for a little(lot?) more grunt. Agree with Steve R. at least a 4 speed!

    EDIT: Just noticed it has NO A/C ugh

  11. CCFisher

    Trivia tidbit – through 1981, these were A-bodies. The G-body designation came about in 1982, when GM introduced front-wheel-drive A-bodies (Celebrity, 6000, Cutlass Ciera, Century).

  12. jw454

    The nice thing about these is, if the v6 isn’t enough for you, you can drop in a small block v8 so easy. We put a 350 in a friend’s ’78 coupe when the 6 cylinder got too tired to do the job. It was a very easy swap and not much had to be changed.

  13. Panda

    The thing that gives me pause: only the front two windows move. There is no sliding rear like a bigger wagon would have and the two rear seat windows are stationary. If it’s a summer only car (or you live in a summer only climate) it’ll get hot damn quick and stay that way.

    • PCL

      These cars had tilt-out vent windows in the rear, so you could get a decent breeze with all 4 windows open. Customers didn’t like them, so GM went back to roll-down windows after that, even if some of them only rolled down a few inches.

  14. Skooterp

    This may be one of the Iraqi order never shipped, they were all oddly equipped for that market. I believe an order went to Toyota instead. For a brief time they were sold out off at discount across Canada

  15. Corey Schlee

    Graph some G-body two door doors on, panel the side windows add a nicely built 350, 5 speed and have some fun

  16. RichS

    Looks like a predecessor to the Iraqi Taxis… In ’81 Saddam Husseins government placed an order for 25,000 Malibu 4 doors with this engine and transmission to be used as taxis. About half made it to Iraq – the order was cancelled in early 1982 and the remainder wound up in Canada.

  17. Kevin

    Upper Bucks, PA? You’re local to my hometown! A buddy of mine had a 79 Malibu 2 door with a 400 small block that was a really nice teal color that we use to race on Levittown Parkway in Fairless Hills in Lower Bucks every night from the Spring to the end of Fall. Until the import invasion. That and tickets plus being locked up for a night was never a good time. Some of the best times of my life though I can definitely say that. I love the look of this and would definitely be interested if I wasn’t wrapped up with my 64 Impala 409 resto and the price is a little steep. I agree with rest of you, SBC 4 speed some gears maybe drop it a little and you have a hell of a grocery getter. Sweet find

  18. et

    the guy has it advertised in Seattle so his price is in US $ why wouldn’t he advertise local unless i missed the add locally i did look i also believe this car was order this way because the original owner didn’t want anything different from the car she was used to driving seniors don’t like change but that’s taking it to a whole other level very cool car though if i had a 200 car collection this would make the list but not there yet

    • Buddy Ruff

      As is, this is not a good car for Seattle. Unless you want to drive it in second gear all the time. These cars were geared way too high. I passed down my ’80 4-door sedan equipped like this to my brother when he was in the Navy in Bremerton. He didn’t keep it very long.

  19. John M.

    Drop an LS Series V8 between the frame rails and It’ll get the groceries home from the supermarket before the ice cream starts to melt.

  20. Steve

    I recently picked up an 82 wagon with the same v6 but auto trans. 56k miles for $500. Plans are to install a vortec 350 and a world class t5 5 spd.

  21. Steve

    Unfortunately it sat in an asphalt parking lot since 1989 (!)

  22. Steve

    I have a weakness for g bodies!

  23. Steve

    The 79 2 dr. Has a 468 bbc/ 200 4r and 8.5″ rear with a 3.73 posi. Ive owned it since 1996.

  24. S Ryan

    Had a factory 305 – 4spd wagon. Fun car , but not cool at the time.

  25. Jeffro

    I’d like to see it run a diesel with a fat turbo on it. Just thinking outside the box.

  26. Troy S.

    94 horsepower, hmmm. Glad those days are far behind us.Like the color and over all appearance, nice rims add some image to an otherwise dull car. Yea, a 383 stroker or 406 sbc would turn this thing into a complete animal with the right transmission and rear end. Outside the box another angle could be a 3.8 turbo buick swap ($$$).

  27. W9BAG

    Odd to think that a Pinto wagon, with the 2.3 4 cylinder and a 4 speed would eat this, albeit quite slowly.

    • John T

      It is possible that maybe the Pinto could be faster, But you would have to leave it in second gear and hope that your teeth don’t fall out!

    • Troy S.

      Now that would be one absolutely boring race.

  28. Snow Dog Farms

    I worked for GM when these were new. Manual trans was available 1978-80, Malibu sedan, wagon or El Camino. V6’s were 3 speeds, V8’s were 4 speeds; largest displacement available was 305 CID, 2 barrel in 1978, 4 barrel in 79 & 80. Manual trans cancelled in 1981 with advent of CCC computers. Most manual cars had crank windows, no A/C, no power accessories. 4 speed was a Saginaw with 2.73 gears; fun to drive but no speed demon. I have a 78 “in the barn”; am second owner, was traded in at dealer who had no idea what to do with it. 305, 2bbl, 4 speed, posi, tach & gages, F41 suspension, no A/C.

    Like 1
    • John T

      Is the 78 “in the barn” for sale? If so, Please provide additional details and contact information.

      • Snow Dog Farms

        I bought the car in ’84, drove it a few summers, then parked it for ‘safe keeping’ in 1988; it’s been slumbering indoors ever since. 69000 miles, original but not perfect. I guess “it’s time”. Let me know how to reach you.

  29. Mitch Ross Member

    So maybe from the 60 built, 3 or 4 survive, since they were low option and at some point worth more in scrap than whole. Why on earth would you swa a V8 into it? Aren’t there enough Malibu wagons without this rare combo to mutilate?

  30. Anthony

    Definitely has to be one of those Malibus produced for the overseas market. A few of them wound up here in Victoria.
    Best to leave that one the way it is… It will draw more attention with its history and uniqueness at the car shows, and cruise ins!
    Take an example with a shot motor and build that small block sleeper.

  31. Mark

    I would rock that little car, with a 4.3 V6 and early heads to keep looking original. Maybe go for 3:42 rear gears, and add overdrive to the trans.

  32. PCL

    Is that floor lever original? My father had a ’75 Malibu with an inline 6, 3 on the tree, manual steering (7 turns lock-to-lock) and manual brakes. As you’d assume, it had no AC, but pretty good ventilation. The column shift linkage was a piece of junk, often getting stuck between first and second; many such linkages were replaced with floor shifters, but I assume they made the 6 passenger seating a bit awkward.

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