This particular vintage Malibu seems to be slipping quietly away, to the point where I wonder whether there will come a time when there will be more classic Novas than them. Or are they just all painted with invisible paint?
Sadly, probably not. Most cars today are purchased less for their personality and more a combination of basic need and the basic acceptance of a car in society. Of course virtually everyone drives today and with what had been until recently practically give away credit people were less invested in their cars. Driving and car ownership has become a bit more anonymous and product lines less distinctive. 30 years from now no one will go to a show to see a Malibu anymore than a Camry or an Accord ( unless they are seriously modified…). Sort of like houses large developments of cookie cutter tract homes that are basic but uninspiring. Part of why a lot of older cars are fondly remembered is because, at least stylistically, they were a portrait of our mindset at the time. The late 50s early 60s reflected Sputnik and the jet age. Even the small touches had meaning. Today’s cars seemed to have lost that connection in some ways.
There are still a lot of these Malibus around up here in UAW country…
True, true. But one must remember that the main customer base for this generation of the Malibu was largely located in UAW Country instead of the Coastal States (Oregon & Colorado included).
This photo shows me that the ’75 GM X-bodies still look decent; they, the Chrysler A-bodies, & the Fairmont were high points of ’70s styling because they were clean, practical, & unpretentious. Many ’80s cars were likewise.
The Malibu is not merely undistinctive, but its wedge line with high, rounded rear deck, as with SO many other modern designs, isn’t practical. What’s so terrible about seeing the extremities of one’s car, so one can park safely w/o a camera? I see a lot of vehicles today with little dimples on their bumper corners, suggesting this is not a hypothetical problem.
Space volume taller trunk makes up for shortness allows for luggage.
That would make an interesting comparison: useful luggage volume. I know that the shorter decklid doesn’t imply less space; it just means more of it is under the rear shelf, which in itself is no problem.
I am liking these “now vs. then” comparisons. This one does not strike me as nearly as absurd as the early Cressida wagon next to the Scion in terms of vehicle size.
I agree with Neil….the GM X-bodies have aged well. In this shot, you can see a clean yet characterful design versus the characterless blob that the Malibu is.
my favorite x body is buick skylark,it looks sportier&kind of unique&with( v6)231 returns pretty good fuelmileage.here is one that my uncle still use it daily.
If you ordered a V8 in the RWD X-car Buicks, did you get 4 portholes instead of 3? All of them I’ve ever seen only had 3… but I also haven’t seen many.
Clever point. It makes me think of the BMW Z3’s front fenders — it seems the builders of the Ultimate Driving Machine decided that the American penchant for gratuitous, nonfunctional ornamentation wasn’t so bad after all.
The number of port holes wasn’t tied to the number of cyls it denoted the trim level.
The only thing I found truly offensive about that vintage Malibu were the godawful front seats. Cardboard over old rusty bed springs, add fabric equals Malibu seats. Intolerable.
The most comfortable seats I ever sat in.
Oh man I love that. Those Imperials/New Yorkers are beautiful cars.
Um yea, I bought an 81 Imperial for two reasons: 1) Challenge myself to keep an original EFI going (which it has been for 4 years with surprisingly little or no problems); 2) The interior in red leather is almost as decadent as the picture. Chrysler was many things but the sheer opulence in some of the cars is over the top. Even Lido kept the idea going in a somewhat reduced state through the early 1990s. Those seats are like porn for the back.
I wouldn’t be surprised if these Malibu’s get all used up quickly. They aren’t worth saving, they were never very good even when new and they certianly are known for reliability or durability. Sounds like the total opposite of a 70’s X-body, which were known then and now as a sound buy. The 70’s Nova’s also made a big splash in Law Enforcement, proving to many that a sub 18′ car with a small block engine is just as if not more capable in police work. I agree with others that the styling of the Nova has aged well, and was one of the more tasteful designs of the mid to late 1970’s.
I can’t go a block without seeing an Epsilon 2004-2008 Malibu. I wish I saw more 70’s vintage Novas in the snow belt of Upstate, NY or any 70’s X-body for that matter.
I drove one of those Malibus once, a rental, and it was awful. I’m not that hard to please, either.
I still see the Maxx version of this gen Malibu a fair amount. Used to be I saw the sedan waaaaaaay more often. But now it’s the Maxx. I have to think that it means Maxx owners really, really like their Maxxes and are hanging on to them, taking care of them in ways the appliance sedan Malibu was not taken care of.
I’ve noticed the same thing here. The Maxx had a high utility quotient, and even looked (somewhat) better too.
It was the best Saab Chevy ever made (as opposed to the contemporary 9-3 sedan, which was the best Chevy Saab ever made).
Saab? The Maxx was a very mildly disguised Opel Signum.
What did the poor defenceless Signum do that made Chev beat it mercilessly with the ugly stick?
Two cars with similar missions separated by a couple of decades and honestly fulfilled their missions just about equally well.
I know one of you can dig up the interior dimensions specs for these cars. I wonder how they compare?
The 1997 to current Malibus were and continues to be the Nova’s “spiritual niche’ successors” since if you look back at the niche’ history of the FWD Malibus, they replaced the Corsica/Beretta models and prior to that the Citation. Novas after 1979 were replaced by the Citation so there goes its “Family Tree” so to speak. To put it this in another way, this is how the Family Tree goes:
A) 1962-67 Chevy II Nova
B) 1968-79 Nova
C) 1980-85 Citation
D) 1987 1/2 – 96 Corsica/Beretta
E) 1997-current Malibu
Just a word of note, the Malibu may share the same namesake as the last 1980s Malibu but they were much in different category in the same way the Toyota Corolla based Novas were. The 1980s Malibu were eventually replaced by the Celebrity, then the Lumina and afterwards the Impala which also had nothing to do with the large RWD Impalas from 1996. So these can be a little bit unclear and confusing to many.
As long as I can still find cars like this Nova (about a mile from my house), I doubt I will look at the later Toyonova or the (false advertising) malibu. I just think the older ones will last longer and if I wanted to update it, the engine and trannie in my truck would get the nod. I can’t think of this as a classic, just a car.
It’s never crossed my mind before, but come to think of it I really don’t see these Malibus that often anymore. When they debuted I thought they were, at the very least, something of an improvement over the ’97-’03 model – which I’ve always considered a particularly weak effort, even if it wasn’t such a bad car. The Malibu Maxx was kinda cool, and apparently there was an SS version of the sedan with a 240hp V6. I’ve never seen one, and even when this Malibu was plentiful it was rare for me to spot them in any color besides white. GEICO had a large fleet of both sedans and Maxxesxes. It’s too bad Chevrolet was (is?) committed to their stupid big chrome bar grille “language” at the time, because that Opel Signum doesn’t look half bad.
I rented the newer version (’08-’12) once and thought it was an outstanding car, the newest one seems OK too.
+1 on the big dumb grille bar. Not a good look.
Both are so ugly. Befitting of a bland personality. No desire for beauty, luxury, sport, refinement, etc. Bleghk!
Two terrific examples of BLAND.
Recent CC’s about the FWD Impala, Tempo and now this Malibu really drive home how the market has changed in the last 25 years. I honestly don’t know and never knew anyone who owned these cars. But I have driven many of them (especially Tempos) … all rentals. By contrast, I know many people with Accords and Siennas but have never driven one, since I’m kinda past the age of driving my friends’ family cars for fun and they aren’t prevalent as rentals.
Where did all of these actually *go* ? surely they are too young to hit the junkyard in mass numbers?!
I sometimes think about Hummers as well — there used to be a seemingly limitless number of H2 and H3’s around. Now.. haven’t seen one in at least a year. They can’t all be crushed, can they?
Slightly older cars owned by people who don’t drive as much, so you don’t see them as often especially in the daily commute.
Why all the hate on the Epsilon Malibu? I’m on the opposite side of Michigan from Richard Bennett and I still see tons of these Uglibus. They haven’t disappeared, so much as faded into the background.
I had a Malibu Maxx, I loved it. I’d have another one again, but this time I want an SS model. My LS was nice, but the SS has more “stuff” and a nice leather interior in most of the ones I’ve seen. The ones I do see on the lots are usually used pretty well, so I’m holding out that I can find one in good condition and convince my wife we don’t really need a SUV. I’ll probably succeed in the former, not the latter…
I know it looks like grandma’s car (probably because it is), but the V6 powered ones will get up and go. The Ecotec equipped ones get very good fuel mileage and seem to be rather durable and reliable. Nor do I understand the comments about visibility, as that generation of Malibu is much easier to see out of than my friend’s 2010 model Malibu or my 2009 G6.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Enter your email address to subscribe to CC and receive notifications of new posts by email.
About Arras WordPress Theme
Copyright 2011 - 2019 Curbside Classics. All Rights Reserved.