Back in 1980, my mother spotted her nine-year-old Junqueboi preparing to redecorate his brother’s 1974 Malibu Classic sedan and got “dad” to capture the moment. Big Brother, a Police Officer at the time, put the kibosh on my criminal intent, and I had to put my replacement Malibu and ’66 Pontiac wheel cover back in the shed with my ever-growing hubcap collection. My parents put up with my “recaps”, and the cars in our driveway often wore rather odd wheel cover combinations!
My brother didn’t much care for my company so I remember little about this car, other than it being the replacement for his totaled white ’69 XR7. Shortly after this was taken, large “West Chicago” rust splotches started appearing randomly down the entire side of the car like acne….and the car was replaced soon thereafter. From looking at the shot, it appeared to have had a white vinyl top and red interior: a nice color combination.
I currently own a ’74 Malibu Classic (stored inside now) but that’s more of a coincidence than an attempt to relive the memories of my brother’s late Malibu. One odd thing is that even though both cars had the 350, only my brother’s had the callouts on the fenders. Mine never had them.
Anyway, our neighbor’s driveway was interesting enough to mention and was easy to keep tabs on thanks to my 2nd story bedroom window overlooking it. Helmuth & Ingrid Weber had three sons and the youngest one Bernie (appropriately named!) hadn’t left the nest yet. The cars you see here were some of their earlier rides, before Bernie’s victims began showing up. Helmuth usually drove the brown Newport you see but sadly, it was replaced by a nasty brown new ’81-ish Toyota Corolla sedan with gagomatic transmission. Ingrid’s brown ’78-9 Cutlass Supreme you see was purchased new and replaced a brown ’79 Nova sedan. This poor Cutlass had the neat standard color-keyed wheelcovers (of course I kept a close eye on them!), 260 V8 and basic camel vinyl interior with few options. In just a few years, the Olds blew a ring or something as they drove it for years afterward with the #7 spark plug wire disconnected. When the Cutlass finally died, it was replaced with their first non-brown car, a new blue ’81 or ’82 Monte Carlo with the strange plain standard wheelcovers very seldom seen.
Bernie’s first car was a clean white ’67 Skylark, the first one I had ever seen. Within a month he hit something quite hard with the RF fender, knocking out both headlights and peeling the fender out enough to make the car a foot wider. Everyone had to give him a wide berth to avoid contact & my mother commented about how he was going to kill someone with that car. Somehow he located replacement front sheet metal which lasted another couple months until he rear-ended someone, pinching & eliminating the grille between the downward-bent hood & upwardly kinked bumper. Despite him blowing the original 340 and replacing with a 350, he still warmed up his car and all his future cars by holding them between 3 and 5,000RPM the second they fired up…yeah, even in February! A clean ’79 or ’80 Formula replaced the Buick but disappeared quickly – its poor 301 was probably not up to the subzero high-RPM warm-ups and constant WOT operation. When the Formula expired, a very clean Ivy Gold ’67 Mustang 289 showed up…but thankfully he couldn’t seem to keep it running long enough to blow it up….at least until he moved out!
Nice picture, and now we can see that you come by your hubcap and wheelcover knowledge from deep within your DNA. I look at that Malibu and can imagine you thinking about filching its clock. 🙂
Interesting that 1980 was the year that my own Mom ditched her 74 Luxury LeMans. It had lived in the garage and still looked good (other than a badly mismatched Dupli-Color spray patch on the decklid) but was such a fuel-swilling hog that she was happy to see it go. She much preferred the 80 Horizon she replaced it with. That Pontiac is among her least favorite cars ever. Probably because she never developed an appreciation for how finely that suspension with the sway bars cornered at high speed. Had she tried a few powerslides in the thing, she may have liked it better.
Ha! Actually, I didn’t develop the clock obsession until I was seventeen or so when my father opened up his scrap metal yard. I wanted something interesting off every vehicle before it was crushed and hauled off.
My mother wasn’t much into powersliding either, what a coincidence! Her goal was to arrive at her destination without that blasted Mark III Lincoln breaking down again.
Gosh, our 76 sedan lived as mom’s daily driver till 1984. At that point the formerly daily driver 1969 Chevelle coupe was given to my cousin who promptly wrecked it.
The 76 became Dad’s driver after Mom got the brand new 1984 Delta 88, he drove it till 1992, then I became the caretaker of it. At that point it had a trunk that had holes in it, and a quarter that was starting to rust through. By 2000, you couldn’t keep anything small and loose in the trunk as you were liable to lose it, but it still looked pretty much the same, powder blue paint that GM applied in 1976 still shined up pretty well despite 24 years of sitting outside in the Texas sun and it recieved a wax job about once every year or two.
I’ve attached a pic of my best friends twins attempting to filch a hubcap off my 77 Chevelle.
Great picture! 😀
My ’74 ‘bu was a Classic, too. 350/2bbl/THM350. 2.73 gears, so it wouldn’t get out of it’s own way off the line, but I could squeeze 17mpg on the highway. I got it in ’80 as a hand-me-down from my pops, and I kept it until 1990, when the frame rusted out.
17mpg is pretty good mileage for one of these.
My Malibu had that same drivetrain combo in it — I pulled the original engine due to a wiped cam lobe (or bent pushrod) & dropped a used 350 4bbl from a pickup I cranked up at the scrapyard a few years ago. I didn’t realize the engine had a blown head gasket — what a dummy.
I’m waffling between changing out the heads on the junkyard engine versus replacing the whole schmeer with a 454/400 combo out of a terminally rusted Suburban sitting in the backyard. At least I know the 454 doesn’t have a blown head gasket..
I can get 20-21mpg out of my 77, but then again its got a 305 and the lame-tastic 2.56 rear axle. By then GM had figured out how to make HP again AND have fuel economy. That 2bbl 305 made as much HP and TQ as the 2bbl 350 did in 1974.
Bernie sounds like an older version of the neighbours’ kid Syd from the movie Toy Story.
My first thought as well…
I love this write up Junqueboi as I too had a hubcap/wheel fetish! I was always changing the hubcaps on my Dad’s ’77 Caprice Estate wagon and then his ’82 Country Squire. He would laugh at times at how the car would look so different with the different hubcaps. Dad ordered the Caprice with the sport wheel covers, but they constantly fell off, so eventually he got a new set of the base hubcaps that I hated and I would switch them with the remaining 2 sport wheel covers in the garage (one of them still hangs on the wall in there today!) The Country Squire had factory wire wheels that were stolen twice and then replaced with a set of the luxury wheel covers that looked pretty good. We lost one of them and could never find a replacement so eventually I got a set of the factory turbine wheels from a salvage yard and had to replace the tires too as they were 15 inchers and the old wheels were 14 inchers. Dad didn’t know I was doing this and when he saw the wagon with the new wheels he loved it!
My first car was a ’77 Mustang that was my sister’s hand-me-down. Being my first car I wanted it to look as good as possible. It had the factory wire wheels which were rare on a Mustang II. I would have preferred factory sport rims on it but I didn’t have the heart to change them. I’ll never forget cleaning them with some special acid/cleaner solution that my Dad had in the garage. After cleaning those hubcaps I often got compliments on that car! It is amazing how changing and/or cleaning wheels/hubcaps/rims can make a car look so different.
Thanks Tom! It’s nice to know there were other kids that liked to do this sort of stuff! It’s cool that you still have one of those wheelcovers hanging on the wall today — those are a very nice design IMO.
Those wire caps are definitely an oddball on the Mustang II — they were 13-inchers from what I recall. Cleaning the wire wheel caps is time consuming but they definitely look great when they’re finished!
Yes, those wire caps were 13 inchers! I very rarely saw them on other Mustangs, and usually if I did they were on Ghias which mine wasn’t. Mine was a base 2-door and it had very few options which made having them seem even more unusual on that car. It didn’t even have power steering! It was a 4-cylinder automatic, light aqua blue with a white vinyl top and aqua blue interior. I think the only other options it had was an AM radio and whitewall tires! It didn’t matter, I loved that car and I regret ever selling it!
…that reminds me, I need to pick up wheel locks
Great story, maybe if you had left your brothers hubcaps alone he wouldn’t have minded your company
Just kidding 😉
Interesting article. In the early 80’s a buddy had a ’74 Malibu Classic coupe almost identical to yours, until he flipped it end over end (he walked home and went to bed, to the chagrin of the cops looking for his body). In middle school, we lived near a train crossing, on a slight high speed curve. Hubcap BONANZA! I know my ‘caps pretty well, but show me one from the 70’s, I can probably name year, make, model, and trim level! Unlike you, it kills me to see anything but the correct OEM ‘cap on a car! A friend has ’66 Tempest ‘caps on his ’70 Maverick, it just kills me!