Curbside Classic: 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Sport Sedan – Draggin’ The High School Line

An unusual piece of trivia:  Writing about any Chevrolet passenger car is often a daunting proposition.  How so?  They are generally common as dirt, and like the dirt in any cornfield, it has been plowed countless times.  So one is faced with the choice of regurgitating old information – which is boring – or taking a risk by putting some personal context to it.

But I was sired by a man who was (and still is) vehemently anti-GM.  Ever since the four-banger in my mother’s 1962 Chevy II threw a connecting rod through the engine block on their wedding day after being over-revved, he would almost snarl at the mere mention of his acquiring any GM car.

Therefore I have no personal interaction with any 1967 Chevrolet, Malibu or otherwise.  So, yeah, this article has been uncharacteristically daunting, something the revision timeline I see on the backend of the site says I’ve been dinking around with since May 5.

However, a spark of inspiration has emerged to help shine some light on this Malibu.  It deserves it’s moment of sunshine so let’s see how this goes.  Like I often do when public speaking, there is a certain degree of being extemporaneous; I’m as curious as you to see how this turns out.

A while back, I was looking at the Facebook page for 1980s alumni from my high school.  It is a small high school in rural Illinois, with a mere 43 in my 1990 graduating class.  The pictures from a recent reunion contained people who were clearly identified but I had no freaking memory of some of them.

It obviously isn’t that big of a school, so my lack of memory is rather humbling, a piece of humility I’ll simply attribute to my accumulation of birthdays.  Then again, maybe it’s human nature to mentally purge the brain of people and things that hold little relevance or importance to us.

Seeing these pictures did make me feel better about having gained only 25 pounds since 1990, along with my avoidance of thinned and/or grayed hair.

Believe it or not, this does relate to our somewhat copper colored 1967 Chevrolet Malibu.

Like some of my fellow high school alumni, it seems this particular Malibu isn’t all that memorable either.  It quickly blends into the background, as I had simply not realized I had pictures of it despite having looked right at them.

A four-door hardtop is not exactly the most popular or desirable body style.  But with various high school memories having recently been exhumed, it makes me realize how the Chevrolet Chevelle line had something for everyone, covering all the major personalities one can find in any high school – with enough generalization of course.

Chevelle’s class of 1967 had 404,000 graduates – a far cry from a puny 43, but we are talking General Motors in Detroit, Michigan, not Egyptian High School in Tamms, Illinois.  Few of these GM graduates would stay close to home as they could quickly be found in countless locales from sea to shining sea.

Like most graduates, some simply found more success in life than did others.  The charismatic but occasionally smack-talking Chevelle SS396, at 15%, accounted for the second largest percentage of graduates.  One could think of it as the captain of the football team or the star basketball player.

Some sources estimate 126.3% of these SS396s survive to this day.

The Malibu Sports Coupe was voted by its classmates as being Most Likely To Succeed, and indeed it was with 166,000 going out the door.  The Malibu sports-coupe was the quiet and studious girl who could, when approached and treated just right, be deceptively mischievous and fun.

It could also be considered as Most Popular given its sales volume.

When I was in high school, a goodly number were focused on vocational endeavors.  While some didn’t think twice in denigrating those goals and aspirations, that was the wrong and short sighted thing to do.  One such classmate was purposefully concentrating on auto-body repair and it could be argued he had the last laugh.  He now reportedly owns a series of auto-body repair shops in Tennessee.

These vocational endeavors could easily be equated to the El Camino, that hybrid vehicle that wasn’t quite a car nor was it quite a pickup.  One could argue these were the hardest working students in the class.

Our featured Malibu, being the four-door hardtop that it is, could be analogous to the student who had a parent on the school board along with way too many family members working at the school.  The Malibu Sport Sedan typifies this sort of student, the one constrained by perceptions borne of things outside his control, the one who could later be found writing for an internet automotive website.

This stereotype holds further water given the relative unpopularity of the Malibu Sport Sedan.  There were 15,000 – including export models – produced.  At 3.7% of production, some high schools have a higher rate of pregnancy among students.

Between trim and body styles, Chevrolet had FIFTEEN (!!!) ways one could obtain a new Chevelle in 1967.  No wonder one could easily overlook the Sport Sedan.

The only type of vehicle currently available in the General Motors arsenal with that many permutations has the word “Silverado” on it’s nameplate.

Yet wisdom dictates not dwelling on high school; that gets tedious and as I pointedly asked a group of employees at work recently: “hardly anybody enjoyed high school so why do some of you behave as if you are still there?”

Like I mentioned earlier, writing about a Chevrolet isn’t an easy task.  If one is so bored as to look at some of my other Chevrolet pieces (such as this or this), you’ll see throwing words at them is sometimes an easy and fun way to go.

BUT NOT THIS TIME!!!

Forget all this high school baloney; stopping at a quickie-mart to get a super-jumbo, full-blown, no-diet-business-for-me, not sold in New York City sized fountain soda (with no ice) the other day, I heard what is without doubt the definitive song for not only this Malibu but perhaps darn near every Chevrolet ever built.

No, Dinah Shore wasn’t involved.

As an aside, even though Dinah sang this song on her show for over ten years, she wasn’t the first one to sing it.  Written in 1949 by Leo Corday and Leon Carr, specifically for Chevrolet advertising, See The USA In Your Chevrolet was originally sang by husband-wife team Peter Lynd Hayes and Mary Healy.  Dinah wouldn’t start singing it until 1952.  Pat Boone would also sing it for a few years in the late 1950s.

This realization of what is the definitive song for Chevrolet fulfills all contractual obligations for having a scintilla of original thought in any Chevrolet themed article and, even better, it’s more relatable to a broader cross-section of the CC audience.  How so?  It’s newer.

Fast forward to 1971.

That’s right.  Tommy James captures the essence of Chevrolet much better than Dinah and company did.  What’s better, Tommy stumbled upon it unintentionally and hasn’t been credited for it until now.

No doubt you’ve heard “Draggin’ The Line” is meant as a euphemism for “snortin’ a line” or some such.  Nope, not according to Tommy.   It’s a song about working for a living – nothing more, nothing less.

To apply this sentiment specifically to this Malibu, our featured car does make a person work.  No Powerglide here; it has a three-on-the-tree bolted behind its 283 cubic inch V8.

But let’s analyze this musical analogy for a moment.

In the United States during the 1960s, did any other brand of car ever exceed Chevrolet for working every day in the snow, the rain, or the bright sunshine?  With many hundreds of thousands of Chevrolets sold annually since about the time BMW started making cars, countless Chevrolets were doing these things daily for decades.

Didn’t it make you feel fine about getting the good sign of Chevrolet – or Malibu?  Chevrolet reliability and affordability offered millions of people peace of mind – except when someone over-revved them.

And who doesn’t want to hug a tree or have a dog who eats purple flowers?

Is this going a bit overboard?  Possibly so.  But it’s hard to argue with how the Chevelle / Malibu was helping 404,000 owners accomplish a lot of work.  For perspective, this volume is on parity with contemporary Camry sales and exceeds Accord volume for every year since 2000.

The Accord and Camry are the sedan workhorses these days; in 1967, the Malibu, in each of its vocations, was helping to drag the line for Chevrolet.

Even better, it looked good doing it – even when it was a straight-laced four-door hardtop optimistically called a Sport Sedan.

Found May 2016 on US 63 south of Rolla, Missouri

Other 1967 Chevelle Malibu comparisons:

The American Big Opel by PN

A Second Year Second Stringer by PN