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Vortec 350 V8: 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu

The second generation of the Chevelle was its most popular in terms of sales and performance. The SS 396 models of that era command big bucks today and are often the subject of tribute cars. This 1972 Malibu is from the last year before the Chevelle would convert to the Colonnade body style used from 1973-77. This Malibu is not original in terms of engine, with a Vortec 350 under the hood instead of what it came with. And it has some rust to deal with. But it looks to be a solid candidate for a restoration. The car is in Cottonwood, Arizona and available here on craigslist for $15,000.

I remember taking Driver’s Ed classes in the Summer of ‘70 and we had several cars like the Malibu to choose from. The 1970 models were like the 1972, except they had quad headlights and different taillights. They were fun cars to drive, especially when the instructor would let you get away with punching it. Chevy sold 186,000 Malibu 2-door hardtops with a V-8 engine in 1972, much like the seller’s car. The Chevelle enjoyed a production run from 1964 to 1978 after which that name was dropped in favor of the Malibu being promoted to full-series status. The 1968-70 Chevelle’s had the largest engine displacement and output choices, which would start to be watered down beginning in 1971.

The seller’s 1972 Malibu looks like an ordinary Chevelle from that year. But the selling point here is perhaps the motor. We’re not told what engine was in the car to begin with, but it now has a Vortec 350 V-8 under the hood. We don’t know the year of the motor, but we understand that Vortec heads added at least 50 horsepower when compared to a regular 350 heads. The motor is paired with a Turbo 400, which we also assume is a transplanted tranny. The car has 82,000 miles on the odometer, but there is no mention of how many miles are on the drivetrain, which was dealer-installed. The car is said to run great and has new tires.

Body-wise, the exterior looks good until you study where the white vinyl top once was. There is rot around the window trim and could also point to rust down below and in the trunk, as well. We’re told any other rust on the car is purely surface and will easily come off. The car wears Chevy Rally wheels which the seller says are original, but I thought they changed the slots and hubcaps in 1971, so to me it looks more like a 1970 Malibu from the side.

The interior is said to be original, but we don’t see much of it in the photos. The door panels and seats may be okay, but the carpeting probably needs replacing and we wonder about the dash pad as there is a piece of carpet over it. The air conditioning proposes to be factory, but the seller does not mention if it still works. Since this is not an SS model, a Malibu coupe from that year might top out around $20,000. The Vortec motor likely adds value, but since its not original, that also likely detracts value. Given the bodywork and possible interior attention needed, the asking price doesn’t leave a lot of room to fund these repairs.


  1. Steve Bush Member

    Give me a break-$15k for this! Try $5K. Yes, it’s complete with some desirable options and looks to have potential as a restomod. But it’s NOM and has major rust around the rear window and who knows how much underneath we can’t see as seller Jim provides few useful pics. Also, as Russ points out, they made 186k 1972 Malibu coupes with V8s so it’s hardly rare, meaning you’d see a ton of them at any car show.

    Like 16
    • Turbo

      what he said

      Like 12
    • Steve R

      It’s not worth $15,000, but is certainly worth more than $5,000. NOM doesn’t matter, it’s a red herring in terms of value, that won’t stop a serious buyer from making an offer.

      Steve R

      Like 10
  2. Troy s

    The Vortec 350 would add value to the driving experience, an overdrive transmission would extend that. I dont know what this Malibu is worth, fifteen thousand seems high to me. I guess whom ever buys it will determine its “worth”. Neat old Chevy.

    Like 7
  3. George Mattar

    What Steve Bush and turbo said. Boring. Nobody drives these cars anymore. Guess I got a good deal at $10,000 for my rust free and never crashed 73 Corvette, which I drive at least 100 miles a week.

    Like 8
    • piston poney

      when i get it done ima daily a 1971 Chevelle Malibu 350, it was ordered with bucket seats center consul it still has a 3 speed auto with over drive. numbers matching, vinyl top, original paint (that copper color), rust in the wheel arches and lower quorters, need a new vinyl top tho and some other rust repairs

      Like 1
  4. Ed Hardt

    If you swap the engine out at least keep the EFI system.

    Like 5
  5. 8banger dave Member

    EFI? Looks to be an Edelbrock 650 or so…

    Like 4
  6. rex miller Member

    Right on, George!

    Like 0
  7. ErnieSC

    I’m very close to finishing a complete Restoration of a 67 Chevelle I bought New 12/66 – 54 Years ago this December. Wife and I went on our
    Honeymoon in it 7 Months later. I had stored it about 15 Years ago and only “Jump Started” it about once a Year and driving it around the Area I live in – and then Parking it again. I decided to have it Painted and just Tool around a little. Several Friends said – “You need to Freshen Up that Engine before you spend the Money on a Paint Job”! AND THE “SNOWBALL” STARTED!!! Decided the SS I had originally wanted but couldn’t get at the time could now be a “Restomod”! Had my 327/275 Bored & Stroked to 355/400. Engine done by a Professional Race Car Shop. NOT Cheap!!! Best Friend said – You need to change that PG to a TH350 and at minimum change the Rear End to 3:42 or 3:55 and Posi. Long Story a little Shorter – If it weren’t for the Sentimentality – I have WAY Over in it what it will be worth to someone when I’m gone! (I’m at $35K+/- and will finish around $40K – NOT counting the Interior next Spring! (I’m beyond “Tapped Out”!)
    MY Question following this dissertation:: “If a Car has no Sentimental Value, WHY would one pay $15K for a car in this condition when they can buy one already NICE for $30K?” Just sincerely curious. There is $30K PLUS Minimum to spend on this car! Now the buyer has $45K in a Non Matching Multi-Owner Car! BUT, I’ll admit, I know Zero about Building Engines, Body Work. Paint. etc.! If one can do it themselves – Maybe??? Anyhow, “It’s All Good”! Life’s Short! Do What Makes One Happy! Ernie SC

    Like 4

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