Mild Muscle: 1976 Chevrolet Malibu Classic

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What you’re seeing first is how this 1976 Chevrolet Mailbu Classic started out before the seller began adding some custom touches.  The Chevy appears to have been a well-cared-for example, although just your basic transportation wearing whitewall tires, factory wheel covers, and looking like most of these cars did when they were around everywhere in the seventies.  It seems as though the owner had envisioned a resto-mod style treatment for the Malibu’s future, but he lost interest and is now ready for someone else to take over.  The Chevelle is located in Paterson, New Jersey, and can be seen here on Craigslist with an asking price of $5,500.

Barn Finds reader Pat L. found this one and shared it with us, and we’d like to thank him for the tip!  So I’m a bit torn here about whether or not I’d want to move ahead with the custom treatment or just put the car back to stock, at least on the outside, as it looked like such a fine original example prior to the project getting underway.  We literally get no information about the car’s past, but the body seems to be in exceptionally nice shape for its age.  So far, most of what has been obviously changed out are the wheels, mirrors, tires, and hood, plus there is no mention of whether or not the seller saved any of the removed components.  There’s now a fiberglass hood, sports mirrors, Corvette rally wheels measuring 15×8 in the front and 15×10 outback, and Mickey Thompson white letter tires all the way around.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m digging what’s been started, but I might have been keener on the idea if it had been a car that actually needed bodywork.

Under the hood is the stock Chevrolet 305 V8 paired with a Turbo 350 automatic.  My family owned a ’76 Mailbu Classic back in the seventies, which was one of the first cars I ever got to drive on a regular basis.  Even in my teens, I realized this wasn’t a fast combo, although it ran smoothly and was dependable.  But some attention has been given here to the small block, including MSD ignition, wires, Blackjack headers, a Be Cool radiator with 2 fans, plus an EZ EFI fuel-injection kit has been added.  Another substantial performance improvement is the positraction rear-end unit with 3.73 gears, and there’s also been dual exhaust installed with a cross-member between the pipes.  There’s no mention of whether or not the engine has ever had a rebuild, and I guess my biggest fear here is that with the motor turning more RPMs at higher speeds it can put added stress on worn internal parts, and at minimum, I’d go ahead and replace the timing chain if that’s not already been done.  Although it may have already been on the verge of failing before, I remember digging broken chain parts out of a stock Chevy 350 with over 100k miles not long after I did a similar gear swap in my younger days, and it was not fun.  The seller lists the car’s mileage at 153,000.

Not much at all has been done to the interior, and it still looks pretty decent to be approaching 50 years old.  The top of the dash looks like it may have a couple of light cracks and a slightly warped glove box door, exactly what happened to our ’76 back in the day, but overall it looks OK in there.  There’s also been a recently upgraded Stereo, including a new bass box and amplifier, so listening to some cool tunes at a loud volume while you’re cruising should be a fun experience for you and the other cars nearby.  How would you move forward with this 1976 Chevrolet Malibu Classic?

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  1. KC JohnMember

    I admire this body style so I jumped to the ad. Wow,this thing is a steal in my opinion. If I had room for one more she’d be in the garage. And yes, I’d put in a ls. Price the rear end alone. Good luck to the seller and whoever snags it up

    Like 11
  2. CadmanlsMember

    Yes sir this is a buy, has way more into parts than asking price. No idea why the 395 is still in place. LS or 496 should make driving a little more fun. Someone is going to steal this.

    Like 9
  3. Bick Banter

    All those mods seem incompatible with a 305. Also speaking of timing chains, I’m not sure if this vintage 305 used the infamous nylon timing gears. Be careful there. You might want to circumvent the whole issue by just dropping in a new crate 350.

    Like 11

      not to worry about the timing chain.
      My 87 El Camino has 750k miles on the original chain and gears and its not making any noise. They don’t make enough torque to stretch the chain..

      Like 2
    • RSparks

      I’m not a big LS guy. I like them but not in everything. This car however is a good candidate. Like some others though, I can’t believe it is still for sale at that price. A little closer to me and I’d have it tomorrow.

      Like 0
  4. Dave

    Agree with changing to a 4 inch bore 350, but you can find good used vortec 350s for a song. And personally I’d have to go with an overdrive transmission, the TH350 with 373 gears will be brutal on the highway. This guy has real money into this car, it just needs to be pushed across the finish line.

    Like 10
  5. Jack M.

    Now that everyone is jumping on the LS engine bandwagon, you can probably find a nice L31 Vortec 350 for this for like $500.

    Like 3
  6. BA

    I concur its a buy ! Drop a rat motor in this bad boy & the rest would be in your review mirror!

    Like 4
  7. BA

    It wouldnt be space shuttle fast skipping across earth atmosphere like a Gremlin with a 454 rat motor but would look better doing it!

    Like 3
  8. Steve R

    The ads been up for 5 days, unless the seller is impossible to get in touch with I’d have expected this car to have sold almost instantly. I’d be weary if the seller asks for some over eager buyer to wire him a deposit to hold the car.

    Steve R

    Like 4
  9. Big C

    Had an ’85 Caprice Station Wagon with a 305 in it. Couldn’t kill it. And I tried.

    Like 1
  10. jerry harman

    I am the original owner of a 76 malibu classic. I have completely redone the interior and exterior. The brakes are 4-wheel discs, all-new glass, and rebuilt suspension, I have a very strong 4-bolt main 383 with tune port fuel injection.
    This project was fun, cheap parts until a few years ago.

    Like 1
  11. John S Dressler

    Love the body style on those Malibu’s. Lose the 305 and put in a 350 with a Voo Doo cam, roller rockers, headers and a Holly double pumper. And definitely do something about an OD for the transmission. With that 373 you’ll be turning 3,000 rpms at 70 mph on the highway. It will eat you alive in fuel costs. It’s set up now to be a street machine, not a highway cruiser.

    Like 0
  12. Don Whipple

    I bought one of these in 1978 from the original owner, who had only driven 21k in the two years he owned it. The only difference – and if this car had the same color/option combo, I would seriously consider buying it – was swivel bucket seats. It was my introduction to swivel bucket seats and I loved them.

    Like 0
  13. Stan

    The Wild mild.

    Like 1
  14. Bud Lee

    Poor 305’s get no love. My 82 C10 has a 305 . Yes , it’s gutless but, it has been one of the most reliable engines I’ve ever had . As long as it keeps pulling my old pickup, it will remain in her engine bay .

    Like 0
  15. nlpnt

    No word as to whether the stock body parts are still with the car and included in the price?

    Like 1
  16. Pnuts

    Yea something fishy about this. It looks real but I’d think it’d been snapped up based on the pics. I’ve sent an email, will see how it goes. Smelling scam here.

    Like 1
  17. Brad460Member

    I’d be interested in it if it were stock. Now that it’s modified, unless it can be returned to stock its pretty much worthless. Modified ones are quite common. Stock survivors are rarely seem and much more nostalgic to me.

    Like 1
  18. Pnuts

    I’ve sent emails with no response and it’s still listed. Smells like scam in a can

    Like 0

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