Cohort Classic: 1976 Malibu Wagon – Dead Ends

pictures by runningonfumes

There’s something about this face that slays me; it’s just so deadly. The result of a “Take Your Kid To Work Day” at the Checker Motors GM Design Center? Naw; no kid would draw something this dull and stupid. Yes, I gave this car Deadly Sin status long ago. But there’s a station wagon body attached to this particular front end, and that does redeem it, in a certain way, if only in its relative rarity these days. But by necessity station wagons have rear ends, and the Malibu’s has us asking: which end is deadlier?

Cool! Yes, I have very mixed emotions about all the Colonnades. I did from the moment I first laid eyes on them in 1973, and it hasn’t changed, except of course I love them for just being the survivors that they are, as well as being such a period piece. Their underpinnings were mostly just fine, especially if optioned correctly, as the beloved B-Body cars proved for several more decades. But their mediocre space utilization, equally mediocre build quality, lousy fuel consumption, frameless windows, as well as stylistic extremes just didn’t amount to a winning formula.

Did the Colonnade wagon’s lift-up hatch predict the eventual future of American wagon tailgates, or was it just a cheap bean-counter’s solution to help offset the cost of 5 mph bumpers and catalytic convertors? Let’s just say that GM went back to a proper two-way tailgate for the B-Bodies, and a somewhat cheaper but still more flexible lift-up window-drop-down tailgate for the downsized A-Body wagons in 1978. So is this the world’s biggest and heaviest hatch ever? And the most awkward ever, given the huge gap caused by the 5 mile bumper? If ever a conventional drop-down tailgate would have been called for, here it is. I guess the bumper was supposed to replace that: instead of tailgate parties, in the 70’s the social event was bumper bashes. Or bashed shins. Deadly indeed.