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Tidy Survivor: 1973 Chevrolet Malibu

While it had originally been intended for release in the 1972 model year, various circumstances meant that Chevrolet’s massively redesigned and re-engineered Malibu did not break cover until 1973. Some of the changes that the new model brought to the table were the result of Chevrolet’s ongoing desire to improve their products, while many were required to comply with tightening vehicle safety laws. The end result was a range of vehicles with a squarer and more hard-edged appearance. This 1973 Malibu sedan is one of those cars from the first year of production, and it is a practical classic in better-than-average condition. It features a healthy V8 under the hood and would suit a potential buyer who has to make some practical concessions in their bid to own a classic car. You will find the Malibu located in Polson, Montana, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set a price of $5,000 for the Malibu, which makes it a fairly affordable proposition. I have to say thank you to Barn Finder Simon P for referring the Malibu through to us.

Finished in Dark Green Metallic with a Green vinyl top, the presentation of the Malibu looks to be very impressive. The owner doesn’t flood us with a lot of details, and he certainly doesn’t mention any problems with rust or previous accident damage. The panels look very straight, with no obvious dings or dents. The panel gaps look really tight and consistent, and I can’t see any obvious signs of rust in the body. The paint itself holds a really nice shine, but it isn’t clear whether the Malibu has ever received any sort of respray work. The vinyl top looks free from any tears or bubbles, but it has developed a bit of a matte appearance. Replacing this could be an option, although I have seen these cleaned and polished quite successfully. I know that I have mentioned this in previous articles, but I have seen owners use the types of polish that are normally reserved for fiberglass boats, and the results can be quite surprising. The exterior trim and chrome are in great order, while the glass is free of any obvious flaws. The wheels aren’t original, and they are of a design that has never really thrilled me that much. Still, that is purely a matter of personal preference. The next owner might absolutely love them, but I can’t help but wonder just how much more striking the vehicle might look wearing something like a set of either chrome Magnum 500s, or a set of Chevrolet’s own Rally wheels.

The green theme continues when we move inside the Malibu. Once again, the condition appears to be very impressive in the single photo that the owner supplies. There are no signs of any significant splits, tears, or cracks anywhere. I can spot one very small seam separation in the outer edge of the seat, and I would be very inclined to have this addressed fairly quickly. The upholstery looks so good that I think that it would be a shame for the separation to deteriorate and potentially destroy the seat cover. The carpet has some wear and fading, but it is still presentable. It isn’t clear whether the vehicle is fitted with a factory radio or any sort of aftermarket stereo, but I can’t see any signs of speaker installations that could act as a tell-tale on this. I believe that the car is fitted with an aftermarket wiper speed controller, and while it doesn’t specifically rate a mention, I also believe that the Malibu might be fitted with air conditioning.

Buyers in 1973 had a number of choices when it came to which engine to slot under the hood of their new Malibu, and the original owner of this car chose to tick the box beside the 350ci option. There were two versions of that engine, producing power figures of 145hp and 175hp, but it isn’t clear which version this car features. The 350 is backed by a 3-speed Turbo Hydramatic transmission, while we don’t know whether the car features power steering or disc brakes. The owner doesn’t provide any engine photos, but he does tell us that the car runs and drives well. He also indicates in the listing that the Malibu has covered 86,000 miles, but doesn’t indicate whether he holds evidence to verify this claim. What is interesting with the 350-equipped Malibu from 1973 is to compare performance and fuel economy figures between the two types of engines. The engine with the higher output is about a ½-second faster through the quarter-mile than the base 350, but when you compare average fuel consumption figures between the two, there is less than a 1% difference. It seems that it is possible to get more power and performance from an engine without paying a huge price in fuel consumption.

I readily admit that this 1973 Malibu Sedan is not as desirable as something like an SS 396, but as a practical classic, it does seem to be a bit of a winner. Its condition is well above average, and the 350 under the hood is a bonus. The Malibu Sedan isn’t a seriously collectible car at this stage, but it is possible that their time might come. Before you pass judgment on this one, ask yourself one simple question: “When was the last time that I saw a 1973 Malibu Sedan that looked this nice?” You simply don’t see them that often now, which makes me believe that this is a car that should be worth preserving.

Comments

  1. Oregon_Guy78

    I’ve never given these a second glance but I sure do like the design of the rear end and taillights!

    Like 3
  2. Doc

    The darn owner should pay you, Adam. Guy wrote 1 sentence and you gave him a article! Still a sedan and not worth $5k. Given him 3k and let it go,

    Like 5
  3. local_sheriff

    I like it a lot but I like the Regal from a couple days back even better. And I think both sellers will have a hard time getting what they’re asking for either of them.

    That’s of course good news for whoever is looking into buying one of these ‘unwanted’ Colonnades. They’re cars that will offer cheap and easy parts replacement and service, this one even more being a Chev. If you live outside car-hostile climate zones with salty roads or humidity I’d say DD it! As a gearhead and lover of pre80s vehicles I’d much rather be seen in public driving a 70s Colonnade than some modern soul-less pod!

    Like 6
  4. Superdessucke

    I’d swap those rims for some factory dog dishes and wide black sidewall low profile tires. Then I’d put something really nasty under the hood.

    Like 2
    • local_sheriff

      Why not? In Chevy sales literature both 454 and M21 are listed as optional up to ’75 meaning you could even make it appear stock! Being a pre-smog vehicle you’d have every possibility to create a true screamer out of a vehicle no one expects will move, without breaking the bank. And no rare animals would be harmed in the process – I’d say go for it!👍

      Like 7
      • Superdessucke

        That would be cool. I was thinking more of a 650 horsepower 6.2 liter and 10-speed automatic out of a wrecked Camaro ZL1. I’d still retain that famous bent column shifter.

        It would run mid to low 11s if you could get it to hook up and I bet you it would get better MPG than the original 350 LOL!

        Like 2
    • Fiete T.

      I bought a triple beige ’76 V8 Valiant. Solid, 88k miles; needs a heater core, radiator is “Meh,” the exhaust is pretty dead, and the battery was gone. Got a blem battery from Insterstate, fired it up and put it on the trailer. Tax, title,tabs and battery I’m in it about $250. I have a stack of parts to throw at it and make a fun sleeper out of it on the cheap- 340 suspension, 340/A-835 trans combo, 8 3/4″ rear with 3.55 gears, HD cooling, 12″ rotor swap, cop car wheels…best “Cow dog” hauler next to the F350

      Like 2
  5. Zapp

    This is an A/C car: Note outboard upper dash vents, and lap cooler vents along the bottom of the dash.

    The $5000 asking price surely has some latitude for negotiation built into it. I’d wager you could drive it away for $4K or even less.

    Like 2
  6. Kelly g

    There is something lurking deep in my psyche which has me uncomfortably drawn to this Chevrolet.

    Like 4
    • David Ulrey

      I’m with you Kelly g. As a rule I’m not a fan of the Colonnade Malibu but something about this one. With the right color combination (like this one) and the period aftermarket rims AND it being a 4 door, which actually looks better to me than the 2 door versions, just really works. If I were in the market and mid 3k to a max of 4k I’d buy it!

      Like 1
      • Kelly g

        Im pretty sure its the green on green with chrome. Plus a 350.

  7. Troy s

    Not a bad looking car at all, those wheels were all the rage in the early eighties… at least that’s what I remember. These Colonnades have a softer appearance to me than the previous ’68-’72’s, with the ’70 being the most aggressive looking.
    I just never warmed up to these for whatever reason. My bad.

  8. Jim C

    Appears to be missing some chrome along the windows and those wheels look ridiculous on a sedan. Otherwise a pretty nice find.

    Like 2
  9. Fireballr Member

    I had a coupe when I was young and it was a dog. Mint green exterior with the darker green bench seat. The rear was too light so tons of wheelspin and sitting in place as soon as a drop of water hit the ground, had 2.73 rear and the 145 hp 350 so go figure. The stories I could tell about the accidents I had in this car. The thing I will say is that you could t-bone a taurus wagon at 35 mph without a seatbelt and suffer minimal bumper damage in this car. She protected me like no other.

    On this one, look above the fender marker and you’ll see the engine size. Looks like 350.

    Like 1
  10. Rudy C

    Had one of these about 30 years ago except mine was a 2 door. Same shade of green with the vinyl top. Seller couldn’t get it started and just wanted their money back for the new battery she’d had installed. Under $50 and I had it bought, licensed and running… fuel filter was plugged solid!! After installing new tires I used it as my daily driver for 2 years, never would have guessed it these would eventually be considered a classic!

    Like 3
  11. mark

    Nice green,,,,,but too many doors. WIll make a nice driver. GLWTS.

  12. Gary

    Lose the bumpers. Lose the top (the whole thing). Shave the door handles. Awesome roadster material.

  13. Stevieg Member

    My Dad had one of these years ago, same colors except a white painted top.
    His was pretty odd, had the Laguna nose on it, along with the puppy pan caps. I liked the old beater at the time. It was a cool car in the late ’80’s. I really wish I had it now.
    Stay Corona-free, ya-all!

  14. Glenn Matthew Johnston

    I drove a dark green 73 Malibu with both Deluxe and Classic badging, a 4 barrel 454, 4-door with the Vinyl top and often wish I could find it again. This was a nice trip down memory lane.

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