Live Auctions

Nicest One Left? 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu

The second generation of the Chevy Chevelle was popular when new and still in demand with collectors today. Probably because there were so many SS models that appeal to muscle car aficionados. While this particular coupe isn’t an SS and doesn’t have a 396 under the hood, it’s a very nice survivor that looks as though you could drive it anywhere at a moment’s notice. At $21,500, the seller isn’t shy about the asking price, but consider that’s what an econobox goes for new these days. The Malibu is located in Antioch, California, and available here on craigslist. We appreciate our super sleuth Pat L.’s efforts to send this one our way!

General Motors redesigned all their intermediates for 1968, including the Chevrolet Chevelle. The Chevelle had debuted in 1964 as a counter weapon to Ford’s Fairlane that began paving the way for that niche in 1962. The cars would see a successful run of five years before being redesigned and giving way to the Colonnade style of cars. The Chevelle would see total production of just shy of a half-million cars for 1971, where it was a light refresh of the 1970s models. Single headlights instead of duals would be the most noticeable changes along with different taillights. The Malibu Sport Coupe with V-8 power would almost reach 190,000 units or 38 percent of all Chevelle’s built that year (thanks, MySS396, for the production info).

Being garage-kept enables most cars to stay new looking longer and this car can clearly make that claim. Low mileage helps, too, which is said to be just 57,000 or less than 1,200 miles of use per year on average. The paint looks nice and shiny, no apparent dents or dings present themselves, and there is no mention of rust anywhere. The contrasting vinyl top looks top-notch with no signs of a rust bubble underneath. The wheel covers don’t look like any I’ve seen on a Malibu of that era, but the spare tire in the trunk suggests it had Rally wheels at one time. For my money, those would be far better looking on this car.

The interior is clean and inviting, but the material on the seats also looks out of place. I’ve seen many an early 1970s Chevelle and that fabric pattern is a first for me. Not that it looks bad because it doesn’t. It just doesn’t look original to me, but I may be splitting hairs. As was the case for many Malibu’s, this one has factory air-condition and power steering and brakes. There is an aftermarket music system in the dash, but the seller says he has the original, and presumably, it would fit right back in should you choose. There is a box of Reese’s candy in the trunk – I wonder if they come with the car!

Pop open the hood and you’ll find a 350 V8 (245 hp 2-barrel likely) with automatic transmission which appears to be a Turbo-Hyrdamatic, both of which we’re told are numbers-matching. The seller adds that the car starts right up, drives and shifts smoothly, and appears to need to work at all. $20,000 seems to be top dollar for a 1971 Malibu that isn’t an SS with a fire-breather under the hood, so the seller may be a little ambitious. But you get what you pay for and this just may be one of those times.


  1. Big_Fun Member

    The radio may go back in the dash, but there has been some cutting around the original shaft holes
    I spy four original rally trim rings and caps in the trunk, so they are under those 14″ Nova hubcaps.
    I’m also thinking those are custom fitted seat covers over what presumably is factory vinyl. Well, I’m hoping that they are.
    Nice find!

    Like 12
    • Steve R

      It looks like it has been tweaked specifically for resale. This is a really nice car, but I would take the sellers description with a grain of salt.

      Steve R

      Like 13
      • Hound59

        Nothing wrong with tweaking your car if you want to sell it…. As long as its an honest tweak!

        Like 4
    • bry593

      My guess is the rallies went adios so the car could be fitted with 15″ wheels. Those hubcaps certainly look like circa ’72 Impala to me.

      I’d bet the only thing under those seat covers is cotton batting and foam. That is the factory pattern and you can see where a seam was repaired. It is possible that the cloth inserts were replaced at some time.

      At any rate, this is a very nice car.

      Like 8
      • stu

        bry593, It’s not a nice car for over $20,000!

        Like 1
    • Anthony M.

      Yeah, my brother had a Monte Carlo of that era. The only way to keep your rally wheel center caps and trim rings from getting stolen was to put them in the trunk. ;-) Just like above.

  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    Here’s a Chevelle I’d actually stop to look at.

    Like 8
  3. Rhett

    it’s …..ok?

    Like 2
  4. Mark

    I wish I could afford it. I would snatch it right now

    I had a 71 Chevelle coupe. 1978-1981

    307. No radio. No A/c. 307 with full automatic. Came from N Carolina. In storage since 1975.

    Pair of mounted snow tires in the trunk. 31,000 miles. $70 a month payment to my credit union. Paid it off 6 months early.

    Traded it at 49,000 miles for a 77 Impala with A/c. I wanted A/c after the blistering hot summer of 1980. Anyone else remember that year?

    I wish I had kept mine. If I could have a reset I would keep it and build a SS clone.

    Forty years later and still kicking myself

    Good luck with the auction. Someone is gonna get a nice car.

    Like 5
  5. George Nunnemacher

    I had a 71′ Chevelle same color, but no vinyl top. Sweet car with only 30,000 miles on her. In 84′ I got totaled in a head-on crash by a drunk lady in a 66′ “aircraft carrier” Cadillac (the hood must have been 6 ft wide). Sweet ride…. what a shame.

    Like 1
  6. Mark Harribine

    I thought that they did away with the 396 in 71. And came out with the 402?

    Like 1
    • ADM

      1970 was the 402.

      Like 2
  7. Robert May

    Nice car. Looks like the front seat material has faded. If you look at the backseat pics, you can see a line where the towel had laid. And some of the carpet looks lighter in places. Certainly not a deal breaker.

    Like 1
  8. Bob C.

    Not that the 307 was a bad motor, but the 350 is a good selling point.

    Like 4
  9. William

    The writer hints that the asking price makes it comparable to an “econobox” and could be a DD. 21 large will buy you more than an econobox, you will get an efficient and powerful turbo, great MPG, reliability (and a warranty), guaranteed no hidden rust, air conditioning, and more niceties’ than could have been dreamed of 50 years ago. This is a nice car, yes, for sure, but as a DD? Treat this car as a fun weekend/car show toy. If you need a DD, a quarter of the asking price will do that with modern wheels, or spend the cash and buy a great new car. Of course, to each his own, if you want this as a DD, your call, just saying cars like this are getting very rare, and these gems should be preserved, not ruined by some kid on a cell phone on the 405.

    Like 5
    • Ralph

      21K is nuts for this car to begin with, this is a $6500-7K car best, its a pig with lipstick.

      Like 2
      • stu

        What color lipstick are you thinking?

      • Ralph


      • stu

        Nice choice…lol
        How about ruby red?

  10. 70chevlle

    Nice! My first car was a ’70 in the same exact color also with a 350. Great first car – lots of memories from the summer of ’86. Had a neighbor with a green ’72. We lived on a dead end street in a new development with few neighbors and spent most weekends seeing which one could do the biggest burnout. My dad could never figure out why I kept breaking motor mounts.

    Like 2
  11. Lance Platt

    This Chevelle isn’t a perfect show car but looks fantastic in the photos. Like the options (V8, automatic, power steering, power brakes and factory air). Many cars from that era were stripper family cars or souped up with bigger engines and stick shifts at the expense of creature comforts like air conditioning. I would leave the car original and enjoy it as a car show entry, collector car cruiser and for fair weather rides. Just wish today’s Chevy Malibu looked half as good as the styling on this 1971 coupe.

    Like 6
  12. Mark P

    The 396 was always a 402.

    • JOHN Member

      The 396 was indeed 396 cubic inches until late December 1969/early January 1970. The 396 was bored .030 to meet emission standards. They wisely chose not to rename the SS396 to SS402, they had a strong fan base and reputation, why change a good thing?

      Like 2
  13. Don Dames

    Very Nice, I just sold my 1970 Nova, all Original, stock 230 6 Cyl. It was featured as the Center Fold in Collectable Automobile Magazine Oct.2010, featured at, winner of 8 Gold Concourse Shows, over 200 trophies in the past 18 years. Was paid to be in the Remake of The Amityville Horror Show, the list goes on & on, just sold for $28,500. The car was appraised at $40,500 due to the history of the car and it had 42,000 miles.
    I bought it with 29,000 miles. 3-different You tube interviews. Original Green Mist 1970 Nova, What I do understand is that there is more SS cars then were ever built, but their all Original.

    Like 2
  14. PAUL

    What jumps out at me about this car is that it isn’t souped up like every other Chevelle I see at auto shows. It becomes dull and monotonous looking at how many of these cars don’t look like they did when they rolled off the assembly line. This one presents well as a time capsule and it is one I would stop to admire at a car show because it is unique. I noted in the comments that there are some imperfections with the car, but what old car doesn’t have a few tweaks from years of use? I hope whoever buys this car resists the temptation to soup it up and make it into another homogenized muscle car. It’s worth appreciating it just as it is.

    Like 17
    • Robbie R.

      Paul, nailed it.

      Like 7
  15. Kevin Fear

    I HATE those steering wheel covers! I can only assume they are hiding a cracked steering wheel and theyre so UGLY!

    • Anthony M.

      Not necessarily. I frequently put cheesy ones on my wheels because the steering wheel will give you second-degree burns on hot days and ice cold in the freezy winters! Sometimes straight from new!

  16. Hound59

    Just a beautiful car… Rare colors.

  17. Ralph

    Sorry but if anyone pays $21K for this, they deserve to get ripped off, this is a $7K maybe, at best. Its a pig with lipstick applied and not even that well…..

    You could do A LOT better in the collector car market than this thing…..

    Like 1
    • JC

      Please let me know where I can buy a car like this for $7k. I’ll take two please!

      Like 4
  18. stu

    I don’t get it…there is nothing special about this car…NOTHING!

    Like 1
  19. Steve Bush Member

    Agree with the others, it’s a sharp car but somewhat overpriced. And no comparison to a very nice triple black 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ with the 428-370 engine, auto, buckets/console, hood tach, AC and PW featured here which sold at auction for $16k on eBay less than a month ago.

  20. David G

    Beautiful car, though the upholstery has been re-done and looks nothing like the original did. Price it sells for will be what the market will bear, but some posters calling it a 7K car have not been paying close attention to what these actually sell for. Daily driver examples here in California with totally shot paint and needing at least some help both mechanically and cosmetically are always good for 12-15K all day long, and they sell quick at that price point. Complete rollers in decent shape with no engines or transmissions sell quickly at 5,500 to 7,500. The Buick, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile versions in equivalent condition sell for half the money or less than the Chevelles do.

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