One Family Owned: 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu

This 1971 Chevelle Malibu has been part of the same family since the day that the original owner completed the order sheet for the car in early 1971. It has remained a cherished part of that family ever since, but like all good things, that is about to come to an end. The Malibu is now set to move on, and as a result, it has been listed for sale here on eBay. It is located in Des Moines, Iowa, and with the bidding currently sitting at $14,000, the reserve has been met. That means that this family is now only days away from bidding the car a fond farewell.

While the Malibu rolled off the line finished in Antique Green with a black vinyl top, I believe that it may have received a repaint at some point in its life. I could be wrong on this, but I think that I do see a couple of spots on the car where there is some evidence of overspray. Whether or not I am right, the car still looks mighty impressive. There are no signs of rust anywhere, while the paint has a great shine to it. The choice of Antique Green was an interesting one because it probably isn’t the sort of color that you would instantly associate with a muscle car. However, it seems to nicely blend that muscular image with a slightly more refined look, creating a really distinctive vehicle.

The all-black interior of the Malibu is as equally impressive as the exterior, with no obvious, glaring problems. The car has been fitted with an aftermarket radio/cassette player, but I don’t think that the dash has been cut to fit this. I would be inclined to try to source an original radio to fit back into the dash because I think that it would just look nicer. There are also some aftermarket gauges mounted under the dash. If they had been fitted into the dash I might have had some reason to object, but I feel that their current position is a good compromise if it means being able to keep an eye on the health of what lies under the hood.

What lies under the hood is the original 400ci big-block V8, so keeping an eye on its health is important. The original owner ticked the box beside this option on the order sheet, along with the boxes for the cowl induction hood, Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering, power brakes, and Rally wheels. With 300hp on tap, the Malibu should be a healthy performer. Both the motor and transmission have recently undergone a rebuild, and the car has covered around 10,000 miles since this occurred. The owner says that the car runs strongly and that he would have no hesitation in driving it right across the country. The brakes have also come in for recent attention, and the owner states that these work perfectly.

To choose to part with a car after nearly five decades must be an incredibly difficult decision because I know from experience that parting with one after less than half that time is hard enough. This one is an absolute classic, and it appears that the next owner is about to secure themselves a beautiful car that should provide them with years of enjoyment. We can only hope that the next owner has the opportunity to love, cherish, and enjoy this Malibu for at least another five decades.


  1. Shawn Fox Firth

    Beautiful ! I had the same car without the vinyl top also a blue one and a white one a silver one and a grey one I painted straight orange toner with white SS stripes , the grill and headlight surrounds are ’72 .

    Like 3
    • Robbie R.

      Yeah, I noticed that too. 71’s have the bow-tie emblem in the center of the grill. 72’s do not.

    • jerry z

      A factory big block Malibu, now that is a rare sight! I see it going over $20K.

      Like 1
  2. Calipag

    “..the original 400ci big-block V8..” The Chevy 400ci was a small block? Is this a 396?

    Like 1
    • Skorzeny

      The 400 was a 350 bored .060 over I believe. Kinda prone to overheating. 402 was a big block.

      Like 7
      • WR Hall

        402 is the correct displacement. However for markeing purposes called a 400.

        Like 6
      • Mike

        While the 400 shares the same external dimensions as the other small blocks, they’re far from being just a .060 overbored 350. They’re VERY different internally. They have a 4.125″ bore (that’s .125″ bigger than a 350) 3.75″ stroke (1/4″ longer than a 350), the connecting rods are only 5.565″ long (a bit over 1/8″ SHORTER than ALL the other small block rods), and, the center 2 cylinders on each bank are “siamesed”, meaning there are no water jackets between them. The cam and rod bearings are shared with other ’68 on small blocks, but, the mains aren’t due to the 400 crankshaft having larger main journals. They also use a couterweighted harmonic balancer and flywheel/flexplate because, like a Mk IV 454, they’re externally balanced. The cylinder heads also have four 1/8″ steam holes drilled into them. Early blocks could have 4 bolt main caps (even though there was never a high performance version from GM), but, from 73 on, they all had 2 bolt mains. GM also never made forged crankshafts for the 400, they are available from the aftermarket now though. GM never intended them to be performance engines, they were destined to be low compression workhorses in trucks and full size cars where torque is king. I have a decades long love affair for these engines. I currently have 7 rebuildable cores stored away and I’m always looking for more.

        Like 6
    • PatrickM

      …or a 454?

  3. Calipag


    I thought the 400ci was a 350ci with a different crank and different bore size not just an over bored cylinder.

    Like 3
  4. Marlon Smith

    The engine is 402 C.I.

    Like 9
  5. Steve R

    The window sticker is a reproduction. I wouldnt use it to verify the cars authenticity.

    Steve R

    Like 1
    • 72 Monte Carlo

      Correct, need the Build Sheet.

  6. Jon G Member

    427 bore with 396 crank? My neighbors Monte Carlo had one.


    There was lots of confusion around engine size in this era. As some have stated, the big block 400, was actually 402 cu in. It is almost identical to the 396, except for the bore. Why Chevy didn’t call it a 402? Who knows…
    The 400 small block, is based on the traditional 327/350 small block, with a stroked crank, and larger bore. Many complained about overheating on these engines, and they had a short production run. I had a bored to 406, 400 small block in a race car, at it never overheated, but it only basically ran a quarter mile at a time.
    This 71 Chevelle is a prize at its current price. Wouldn’t be surprised if it gets close to 30k by auction end. Nice to see it’s not an SS, just a well optioned Chevelle

    Like 4
    • Steve R

      In 1970 all 396’s received a .030 overbore to 402.

      The 400 small block used a different block and crank than other small block Chevy engines, it also had siamesed water passages.

      Like 9
      • Camaro guy

        Right Steve the 400 small block was a totally different engine block the heads also had steam holes to match the engine block and yes the 402 BBC was a 396 +..030 they just didn’t want to call it an SS 402 so kept the 396 numbers

        Like 4
    • JOHN Member

      Chevy bored the 396 starting with the 1970 model year. They were extremely successful with the SS396 name, and rather come out with an SS402 and confuse everyone, they chose to leave the name alone. It was probably a good call.

      Like 1
  8. David G

    Beautiful car. Surprised the original owner didn’t order A/C and avoid the vinyl top. Gets hot in the midwest. I would have gone with any
    color other than green.

  9. Troy s

    There’s no confusing a mk.iv big block with any small block Chevy within a glimpse of a second. Big block, big valve covers, big everything. Big tire smoking torque.
    So let’s badge one an SS396, although it’s really 402 inches now, and then put a 400 decal on the air cleaner. It’s all good, step on the gas and all that means nothing.
    This isn’t an SS, just a really cool Malibu with plenty of muscle under the hood. Color looks good for a muscle car, especially with those black wheels. Like it.

    Like 4
  10. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Really glad to see an original owner (family member) putting their car up on EBay instead of selling to a local guy who flips it. They buyer can now get all of the stories and car history first-hand, plus the new buyer can share their ownership with the previous owners.

    Like 2
    • Steve R

      More than a few flippers claim that a car belongs to a family member. After a generation or two, last names aren’t always the same. It’s a common ploy to use in order to skip paying title transfer fees and sales tax, it also builds trust with potential buyers. The guy that bought my mom’s 26,000 mile 1984 Honda Accord used this tactic when he put the car up for auction on eBay. I follow several flippers on eBay that make similar claims on every car they list for sale.

      Steve R

      Like 2
      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        It must be tempting to ask them to put you in touch with the original owner, since they must know them.
        Of course, that request will get ignored.

        Like 1
  11. TimM

    Great car at a reasonable price so far but a car as clean as this I’m sure will run the price up to the mid to high 20’s!!

    Like 1
  12. SquirrleyGig

    I personally think this is a refreshing thing to see. A base Malibu w/ the right boxes checked on the order sheet as far as I’m concerned. Sure they could have checked a couple different options that would have made it “more desirable” from an auction block standpoint, but this is what is allowing more than those w/ huge pockets to be a player. Finally. I personally love the color. Not something you would typically or ever see on an SS or many Chevelle/Malibu’s for that matter? Too me whoever ordered this car was pretty much 100% on the mark.
    Still a bit confused to the actual mill in the car? I’m not an expert in anything, let alone identifying Chevy motors, but if I’m not mistaken, those are not small block valve covers? No small block Chevy I’ve owned or remember others owning had valve covers that big? If I’m uneducated, please clue me in. I love learning.
    I had a buddy BITD that had a ’77 (?) Chevy Monza town coupe fitted w/ a small block 400. Constant overheating issues. Then again, it was never meant to pack that powerplant. However, I will say from one end of town to the other, it was a pure kick in the pants to drive or ride in! Lots of tires died!

    Like 2

    I had an argument with a co-worker regarding this very engine. It is a 396 Mk iv big block factory bored .030 to clean up emissions. I have no clue why they put a 400 sticker on the air cleaner. But it sure has caused confusion over the years even with seasoned mechanics.

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