Ordered That Way! 1979 4-Speed Malibu With AC

Visually, this 1979 Malibu is almost identical to the the one I took driver training in back in 1979 (no, it didn’t have rally wheels, it had some of the ugliest wheel covers of all time). However, this car was a special order vehicle and has a lot of interesting features. It’s listed for sale here on craiglist and is located in Madison, Virginia. The asking price is $5,500.

You can see a little bit of rust in the quarter panels behind the wheel. Some of the rest of the body has issues as well, with dents on both sides of the car. The selling dealer tells us it needs paint, but that what you are seeing is original.

I’m not sure on the original paint claim; it looks like some of the rust is painted over on that quarter panel. But that may well be my eyes. And even though the rally wheels aren’t original, I do like them on this car. But the really special items are under the skin. This Malibu was a special order car, and the order sheet (which is included) includes the F41 sports suspension, a four barrel equipped 305 V8, limited slip differential, air conditioning and “special instrumentation”, whatever that was.

The interior does need a redo. I’m not sure if I’d go back with the stock bench, although I’m sure that could hurt the value of the car. I’d keep it and reinstall it (reupholstered) if I were to sell it, but I think I would put matching buckets in for driving it.

Here is that 305 V8. We’re told it runs well, and that the car also drives and stops well. I would have had a lot more fun in this car for driver’s ed, I’ll tell you that! We drove on some great roads around my high school in Walnut Cove, NC, but we sure didn’t have the F41 suspension in our wallowing Malibu. Would you like to explore some roads in this Malibu? And would you keep the bench seat?

Fast Finds


  1. Dan

    I had one identical to this, white with a 305 and 4 speed, first one I had ever seen with a 4 speed. Only bad thing was it a gosh awful light green interior. Who would order that?….I don’t know where Madison, Virginia is but I am in east Tennessee, so who knows might be the same car.

    • Rabbit

      White/green’s not that bad, Dan. About that time, Ford liked to build black cars with Kelly Green guts. Talk about butt-ugly…..

    • Chebby

      Oh yeah that GM pale green was bad, especially in vinyl. This sickly blue is pretty awful too, I think of it “stillborn blue”.

      • glen

        That’s disturbing!

  2. jimbunte jimbunte Member

    This is the very same car (albeit a 4-door) that I learned to drive, as well – a 1979 Malibu 305 with an extra brake pedal added to the front passenger side for the instructor to slam on when the student was doing something stupid. And yes – same wheel covers, kind of a sunflower burst thing.

  3. jeff

    I had the same car, the car had hidden rust on the frame over the rear wheel arches, when I put a boat and trailer on the hitch I drove away and the entire bumper and frame pulled off the car LOL


    In 1979 Chevrolet wasn’t the only company dolling out manual transmissions. AMC offered the 4 speed in the Spirit AMX. Had one and the benefit is AMC used Ford sourced transmissions. The benefit is you can slide in a T5 from a Fox Mustang and have a five speed.


    In 1979 Chevrolet wasn’t the only company dolling out manual transmissions. AMC offered the 4 speed in the Spirit AMX. Had one. AMC used Ford sourced transmissions. The benefit is you can slide in a T5 from a Fox Mustang and have a five speed.

    • Ralph

      More than just Chevrolet and AMC, you could have gotten a 4 speed in any of the A-body cars, plus the T, H, X and F body cars still had manuals, everything except full size GM cars had the option of a manual.

      Like 2
      • Shane

        Yeah we had a 78 or 9 cutlass 2 door vinyl top with a v6 and a 5spd. Only one I’ve ever seen. Also a 79 Malibu with talley wheels(14’s) and a three speed. Bucket seats no console. The interior was tan with cloth up front and a vinyl rear seat. It was a great sleeper after a 350 upgrade with cam intake and carb plus headers and 3″ dual exhaust. Miss that car.

  6. jaymes

    it gets the monte carlo ash with a tach and clock, be a cool car to restore

  7. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Oh if this was closer and checked out it would be mine. One of my bucket list cars not for speed, but for uniqueness and fun.

  8. Brian Gould

    I wonder if this car was part of the special order of 300 cars which were supposed to go to Saudi Arabia about that time? I recall that the order was cancelled and that GM put them on sale cheap to get rid of them.

    I recall there being much discussion at the time as to who in North America would want these oddball optioned plain jane cars even for a cheap price. As it turns out a lot of people did and they all sold within days. I think a lot became taxis and delivery vehicles.

    The Saudi destination explains the 4 speed transmissions, posi track and AC. I had a relative working in the oil industry there at the time and I recall him telling me that given the flat terrain and gravel/sand surface adjacent to the roads that often when drivers came to a red light, instead of lining up behind one another on the roadway, they would pull up even with each other by going off the roadway. When the light changed there would be a mass of cars all racing away and then swerving and jockeying to get back on the road.

    I have long ago forgotten what the “special instrumentation” was but I do recall that it was also something to do with the intended destination for those cars and was specified in the original order. Anyone else remember that?

    • RayT Member

      “Special instrumentation” could have been metric calibrations for cars sent overseas, but in this case I would say the tach, oil press., water temp. and ammeter (never saw those on a bone-stock Malibu) in the cluster were special.

      Though I’m not a huge Malibu fan, this is exactly the car I would have ordered, with a different interior trim color, of course. If I bought it now, the first step would be to explore the range of hop-up goodies that could be installed without affecting the OEM look. After that, it’d get use. Lots of use.

    • GliveCo

      No. Those taxis were 4 doors. And were equipped with 3 speed transmissions. Heavy duty cooling systems and think either a slant 6 or a smaller V8.

      That whole story is a good one though. They ended up being sold to the Canadian public for a huge discount.

      • Mark S

        As a Canadian I can confirm that there was a sell off of what was called the Iraqi taxi. 267cid v8 with manual 3 speed and AC. A freind of mine bought one and being a body man at a gm dealership gave his a nice factory looking two tone paint job and put the rally wheels on. He got the car for dealer cost because they were trying to get rid of them and he was an employee. All the Iraqi taxi’s were 4 door cars, this car presented here is definitely not one of them. My mom had an automatic Malibu and it was a nice little car very reliable my mom drove it for 15 + years.

        Like 1
      • Brian

        1981 4 door Iraq Malibu’s were equipped with the Chevy 229 V6, 3 speed standard, heavy duty a/c (big compressor), am/fm cassette, no rear window defroster, bumperettes front and rear, P185/75R14 tires, plain hubcaps, heavy duty cloth seats, manual windows. Just a total plain jane car. The remaining batch were sold to GM employees for $5500 and the public for $6500 after they were sent back to the GM plant to have all Canadian emmissions parts installed. My father used to own one, i drove it alot. They had a terrible rear end ratio though, gutless on the take off but it flies on the highway! They were a good car, basic transpirtation, it got the job done. Eventually we put a 350 in it, then it was alot more fun, first gear was useless, it could easily take off in second.

      • Nova Scotian

        Agreed….Iraqi taxi Malibu…my friend had one in Nova Scotia…no big deal here…

    • CCFisher

      I’ve heard of the Iraqui taxi order (81), but not a Saudi order. Sounds like an interesting story. Anybody out there have any references?

      • Mike Lawrence

        My Godfather owned a Chevy dealership in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and as a kid I remember being there and seeing rows of these “Iraqi ” or “Saudi” cars as my dad called them. From what I remember the cars were sold at a massive sell off and for years these stick driven Malibu’s in very pastel and light colours were seen on the streets around greater Halifax-Dartmouth. I remember one of the salesman telling my dad these cars were “a young man’s dream” if he couldn’t afford a Vette or a Camaro. Lol.

    • streamliner

      There was another order of 25,500 Malibus by the Iraqi Gov’t between 1979-1981. These cars had 4-speed transmission, truck suspension and special tires so they could operate in sand. Saddam Hussein ordered these from GM Canada. But after they were built, and before they were shipped, Saddam ran out of money as the Iran-Iraq war was going badly. The cars were known by some as “Iraqibu”. They were intended to become Taxis, as well as gifts to families who’d lost a member fighting in the war. These new Iraqibus were sold about a year later and at about half the new selling price. I knew people who bought two of them. If you were in Canada in the early 1980s, these were otherwise commonly known to as “Iraqi-Malibus”.

    • Steve

      The “Iraqi Taxis” were four door. I believe they were also v6 cars.

      This car is merely a case of aomeone who knew what they wanted. 1. Manual trans. 2. Largest engine available with manual trans (probably would have ordered a 350 if they would have let him 3. Sport suspension 4. Instrumentation beyond idiot lights.

      I have a 79 malibu i bought in 1994. It was originally powder blue with a medium blue top, split bench seat 267 v8 th200 auto transand 2.29 open rear axle. The only thing they got right was the fact that it is a 2 Dr with blue interior. It currently has a 468 bbc with aluminum heads, 2004r trans 8.5″ 3.73 posi and F41 suspension parts added (bars and braces) with 83 monte Carlo SS cloth bucket seats (and matching rear). Exterior is currently flat black but plans are to paint it two tone cobalt blue over silver in the original pattern offered in 79.

      Like 2
      • Daniel Charles Bahr

        I had the exact same one, except silver with a landau top. factory 267 and th200 and even 2.29 rear gear. purchased in ’93 Pulled the knocking 267 and installed a rebuilt and slightly warmed over 283 I had. Sluggish on the bottom end, but man, would it pull at the top and loaf along all day at 65. Pulled the engine in ’95 and sold the body to a stock car builder.

    • Utes

      @ Brian Gould…..
      Per your query in the 4th paragraph; perhaps you’re referring to the fact that law enforcement agencies almost unanimously opted for special instrumentation when spec’ing out new orders to their fleet(s).

  9. CCFisher

    Anybody interested in this car should check the frame rails aft of the axle very carefully. My family had a ’78 Grand Prix with a rust-free body and terminal frame rust. Neat car, though. I recall seeing a wagon equipped like this for sale at one of the Carlisle event a few years back.

  10. XMA0891

    I’ve got one (that I think was probably even) rarer than this: My dad owned an ’83 Malibu Classic Wagon with a three-on-the floor!
    I can’t remember the motor it had, but I know he put two replacements in it during his ownership.
    I sold the car for him when I was still in college, which would’ve been ’90 at the latest.
    The car was really tired by then. Thinking on it; it somehow doesn’t seem right that an eight MY old car shouldn’t been so shot, but it was… I guess durability really has improved in 34 years.

  11. rdc

    I like the look. Always thought the body style was clean for the era. Of course, I would have ordered it with air and the F41 suspension. AC was critical after I grew up a bit.

  12. Chuck

    The Pontiac Grand Am version of this body was great looking, but I don’t know if you could get it with a V8 and 4-speed.

    • Ralph

      You could, I’ve seen a few Grand Prix’s and Grand Am’s with the Pontiac 301 and 4 speed combo. You could do it on a Cutlass too with the Oldsmobile 260 and a 4 speed as well, even odder, you could get a manual with the short lived Oldsmobile 260 Diesel too, you could also get a 4 speed on a Buick Century/Regal.

      Like 1

    5K FOR A 305? Whoever buys this is likely to do a LS swap. $2500 tops for a rusty backend.


    As a Canadian, I remember the Iraqi Malibus very well. They all came as four doors, small V6 and three speed manual floor shifter. They were also equipped with air, heavy duty cooling system, bench seats with tough fabric material and cassette decks. They were made in 1981 – all at the GM of Canada plant in Oshawa, Ontario. I had to go to Google to get the numbers but there were 25,000 ordered and built. After having approximately 13,000 shipped to him, Saddam cancelled the rest of the order. All of the remaining ones were divided up amongst all Chevy dealers in Canada, whether they wanted them or not, and sold for about $6,500 each.

  15. Mark

    My dad had ordered a 1980 Malibu with four doors and the ONLY option was A/C. Didn’t realize at the time it would be a V-6 and a 3-speed manual. The car didn’t even have a radio and instead had a blank out plate. Later in the years a Chrysler radio was installed. The car served us well and I had gotten my hands on it after my dad had passed it on to me. The V-6 was replaced with a built 327 and it was then the ultimate sleeper.

    • Mark

      I recall reading from somewhere that 404 of these were made with the 305/4 speed manuals.

  16. Pete Koehler

    In 1979 I was working as a field representative for Chevrolet Division in the Chicago Zone. We were allowed to order our company cars so I opted for a loaded El Camino. I was told no-way because they were only built in Mexico and the additional shipping charges would have to be absorbed by the Zone. My next choice was a two-door Malibu with a V8 and a four speed manual (four on the floor!). It was two-tone blue and had buckets and every other option I could check off. Hey! It was their $$$ and I knew I had to sell it to a dealer when my time was up with it. That car was a blast. It might have had a 350, but I don’t remember. After that car I usually ordered pickup trucks with a manual transmission. The reason? Most of my co-workers couldn’t drive a stick, so they wouldn’t ask to borrow my demo for the weekend and then bring it back Monday all dirty and banged up.

    Like 1
    • rdb

      Customer orders like my brothers car you couldn’t check off the 350 if you wanted the 4 speed, best you could get was the 305 4bbl.

      Like 1
  17. Curtis

    Great cars throw in a solid small or big block & a 12 bolt posi you can beat much more expensive cars on the road today. I certainly miss my 1978 I had one of those “should have kept cars” for sure

    Like 2
  18. Randy W

    If you look at the windshield reflection on the front seat. It shows a selling price of $3,500 . What gives with the 5,500. Did you miss read the reflection?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Nope, that’s what it’s priced at in the craigslist ad.

  19. S Ryan

    Had a 78 wagon factory 305 4spd. No air and green outside tan vinyl inside. Originally from a farmer in Wisconsin. Still had hay all over back inside.
    Great car.

    Like 1
  20. John

    Anyone living in CA would have to deal with smog testing,
    if i am not mistaken the law in CA states that all cars are subject to OBDII standards,
    which would make it difficult to pass the sniffer with that setup.

  21. Steve

    This body style will be the 55-57 Chevys’ of the future.
    Get one now if you like ’em.

    Like 1
  22. KevinR

    See the pic with the speedometer on the left, the tachometer on the right and the 2 small gauges in the center? That is the “Special Instrumentation” package. It’s pretty rare in these cars.

    I’d lose the rally wheels for something else; upgrade to buckets in the front and paint it a more interesting color than Kenmore white.

    Like 1
  23. Zack

    I know a guy in Central Illinois who has one of those Iraqi/Saddam cars with the shift on the floor. It’s in his barn all covered up. I’ve looked at it several times over the last two years when we get to talking about it. It looks like it’s brand new. He’s got new vehicles so he doesn’t need to drive it but he does start it once in awhile. I’ve heard it run. I believe his has a V-8 and I think he said it was a 4-speed…..well, maybe it’s a 3-speed….. I could be wrong about that but I’ll see him next month when I get back there and I’ll corner him on the stats. He did tell me about the Saddam connection and I believe he has some papers attesting to the authenticity of the cars origin and purpose of manufacture… I’ll get it all straight when I see him next month.. I’m real curious about it now.

  24. Chebby

    The “Iraqi Taxi” is the least-intriguing special interest car I have ever heard of. As a 2-door coupe, this Malibu is obviously not one of them. They have been written about on several car sites, no need to guess about them. Wikipedia says:

    Iraqi taxi

    In 1981, General Motors of Canada in Oshawa produced a special order of 25,500 four-door Malibu sedans for Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government. The deal was reportedly worth well over $100 million to GMCL. These special-order Malibus carried the unusual combination of GM’s lowest-power carburated V6, the 110 hp (82 kW) 229 cu in (3.8 L) engine mated to three-speed transmission with a unique on-the-floor stick shifter. All of the cars were equipped with air conditioning, heavy duty cooling systems, AM/FM cassette decks, front bench seats, 200 km/h speedometers, tough tweed and vinyl upholstery and 14-inch (360 mm) stamped steel wheels with “baby moon” hubcaps.

    However, only 13,000 units ever made it to Iraq, with the majority of the cars becoming taxis in Baghdad (once the cab-identifying orange paint was added to the front and rear fenders)[citation needed]. With the remaining balance of about 12,500 additional Malibus either sitting on a dock in Halifax or awaiting port shipment in Oshawa, where they were built, the Iraqis suddenly cancelled the order in 1982. Excuses reportedly included various “quality concerns”, including the inability of the local drivers to shift the finicky Saginaw manual transmission. This issue was eventually identified as being due to an apparent clutch release issue that eventually required on-site retrofitting by a crew of Canadian technicians sent to Iraq to support the infamous “Recall in the Desert”. Later speculation was that the Iraqis were actually forced to back out for financial reasons, due to their escalating hostilities with Iran requiring the immediate diversion of funds to support the Iraqi war effort. Then GM of Canada President Donald Hackworth was initially quoted as stating GMCL intended to still try to sell the Malibus overseas in other Middle East markets; however in the end, the orphaned “Iraqi Taxi” Malibus were all sold to the Canadian public at the greatly reduced price of about C$6,800. Over the years, they have acquired a low-key ‘celebrity’ status, sometimes being colloquially referred to as “Iraqibu”.

    Like 1
    • Brian

      The ‘clutch release problem’ was due to no grease applied on the tranny input shaft splines when they were built. My father owned one of these cars and that was the first thing he had to do to it, drop the tranny out and put some grease on the splines. Never had any other issues after that. He had done a few before his car having been working at a Chevy dealer when these came out. It was a good shifting tranny.

  25. Melvin Burwell

    Nice ride. Im not a fan of those 305s but looks like a nice cruiser. Better 4 spd than automatic. It will be sold.

    Like 1
  26. erikj

    I worked in one of the first -fast oil change shops in seattle in 1981-83 Spedi-lube!! A older guy always brought in his ,I want to say a 76 nova,but as new and a 4spd/with the console and gauges(had to check oil pressure,and was weird to look at it in a console on he floor) such a nice clean nova. Was green and tan int.. I also remember a guy brought in a same type nova with a built 427-wicked car,always wondered why he didn’t change the oil himself? Someone built the machine,dont think he did, or even knew what he had.
    Also had a 69 mustang boss 429 roll in once, Man what a car that was. I worked in the pit,so all I seen was the underside,but that was not a normal car!! The guy on top putting the oil in called down to me and just said ERIK- you should see the size of the heads on this thing!! Found out years later just what a boss 429 really is and glad to say I had my hands on one.

    Hey- Gary Kush,my boss! Are you in the loop. Probley not ,but never know.

  27. Fred

    Back in the 1980’s, I owned a 78 Monte Carlo with a 305/4 Speed with no AC, and a 1978 Malibu wagon, 305/4 speed with AC. Both were from the original owners. Both were 2 barrel carbs. My father in law had a 1978 Malibu with a V-6 and a 3 speed manual plain Jane car.

    I also owned a 1978 Monza with a 305/4speed.

    Manual transmissions in these cars were not very common.

    Like 1
  28. Steve

    I need love, love, love, love …A-body love……… Someone could write a song about this ;)

  29. Steve

    This thing would have a built 383 and a hole cut in the hood for a tunnel ram intake faster than you could say Mastercard……… Oh and mid 80’s Iroc 16″ wheels.

    • Steve

      Id worry about if it could hook up, or stop latter……..lol

  30. gary

    This must be a VERY RARE car because as a sales mgr for years, I have ordered thousands of GM cars and trucks and have never seen an option for a four speed in any of the 78’s and up Malibu’s. A 3 speed in the floor was available with a six cydander ONLY!

  31. Ricky Butler

    Any questions on this rare 1979 Malibu 4 speed, 305 4 barrel. Call 540-672-7907

    Thank you,

    Ricky Butler
    Butler Automotive Sales,
    Madison, Va

  32. Jesse

    you must have alot of “bags” commenting something this ignorant, the car may be a Rough as hell but its incredibly rare, find another one like it? i’ll wait…

    Like 1

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