Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1981 Malibu Classic Coupe – Paolo Martin Sends His Regards

These 1978-1981 Malibu Coupes were always a bit underrated stylistically. They were clean, taut, and paid homage to the seminal Fiat 130 Coupe penned by Paolo Martin, which of course also heavily influenced Bill Mitchell’s 1977 B/C Body cars. But the Malibu coupe tends to get overlooked in favor of its larger siblings, yet its smaller size makes it even more European.

Obviously, its popularity with hot rodders has made it a bit harder to see it in its purest form, but then these were another reincarnation of the Tri-Five Chevy, so who can blame them. Good luck finding one that doesn’t have aftermarket wheels and bigger tires. This one found and posted by nifticus is about as good as it gets for these. Nice color, too.

Our dearly missed design guru, Don Andreina, did one of his lengthy dives into the Fiat 130 and it widespread influence, especially so on Bill Mitchell. But Don never mentioned the Malibu coupe, yet the influence is unmistakable. Mitchell improved on the 130, by making its overly-heavy C-pillar much more delicate on the Mailbu and the lovely Buick LeSabre coupe. The Malibu is closest of all the GM cars to the 130. And unlike the LeSabre, the Malibu has a blessedly simple and clean front end.

And rear end. Obviously, it was all too clean for Americans’ taste; the downsized Malibu coupe sold reasonably well its first two years, but by 1980 that went downhill, and the coupe was dropped already in 1982. The gaudy, affected and bulging Monte Carlo was clearly more to the public’s taste. Or lack of it.


Here’s Don Andreina’s Dive Into All Things 130 Coupe:

Curbside Classic: 1972-77 Fiat 130 Coupe – Bill Mitchell’s Regards

And related CC reading:

Classic Curbside Classic: 1979 Chevrolet Malibu Coupe – Good News, Mostly

Curbside Classic: 1981 Chevrolet Malibu Classic – A Wallflower from Turbulent Times