I’m not sure I’m going to add much commentary, except that I couldn’t resist this fine shot of this old Colonnade Malibu posted at the Cohort by A. Kwanten. This is a survivor, with plenty of honest patina and still wearing its dog dishes. These weren’t my favorite Malibus ever, but I’m somehow falling love with this one; what did Stephanie put in my dinner? If it were to have the 250 six and three-on-the-tree, I’d really have a crush. Better that then the crusher.
Cohort Outtake: 1975 Malibu – Basking In Sunny Memories
– Posted on September 15, 2015
I’m betting, based on the poverty-spec hubcaps, that it’s an I-6/250 with a HydraMatic 350.
My first car was a ’74 Malibu Classic coupe. I’ve been looking at Colonnades ever since. I will say that over the course of a lifetime, I’ve seen less than a dozen with a manual transmission, 3- or 4-speed.
My dad had a ’77 Cutlass S sedan in the same color as this Malibu, but his had the husky Olds 350/TH350 combo to go with its plain hubcaps and trim.
I’m not a fan of the four door sedan on this generation of Malibu’s however it’s nice to see more and more of these older sedans on the road.
My Dad bought a ’73 Cutlass S coupe with a 350 4bbl and 3 speed on the column. No power steering, no power brakes, no a/c. He ordered it that way. I am still puzzled to this day why he would do this, other than he was a cheapskate extraordinaire! I think growing up during the Depression ruined him.
“patina”…the modern, nice way of saying “desperately needs paint job” 🙂
” “patina”…the modern, nice way of saying “desperately needs paint job” 🙂
It also means ‘ it’ll soon rust to junk if you don’t stop it you dumbshit ‘ .
And yet, despite the patina, someone loved it enough to pay extra for whitewalls.
Patina. The non offensive, politically correct way to say rusted.
My first car was one of these in the late ’80s in Michigan. Same color and everything. Believe me, this car has not even begun to rust. In mine snow used to blow in onto passengers, even when the passenger door didn’t fly open when going around a corner.
Sometimes, to grab the attention of “value shoppers”….or so I believe, some tire companies make whitewalls their cheaper/cheapest price lines. The owner of this car is obviously on a budget and probably wouldn’t spring for “good tires”.
On top of which, some tire sizes are getting very difficult to find.
True. 13″ tires for my Valiant were difficult to find. They used to be so common. White walls, not even a chance. My brother had to special order them online for his 86 Olds Calais and those were 14″ IIRC, original styled aluminum wheels.
Saw a 2nd Gen Tempo with WWs recently. They actually looked good on it. Took away from that horrible C pillar I guess.
You’re telling me! My ’84 Suzuki Swift, and 145/70R12? Wound up with light aircraft tyres!
Looks like it’d be an easy restore for someone who cared…
The hard part might be finding the right person to care about a base four door sedan.
CC is the right place to find those people Old Pete !
True. You got room for her at your place? Me either!
That is one bad car. I mean as in bad. Somehow the Monte Carlo seemed to move above this chassis’s pitfalls and be a halfway decent car. But those Malibus were just woefully pitiful.
I agree that the mid size mojo at Chevy was with the Monte Carlo. These Malibus were a low point from styling to build quality to value. America seemed to agree and made the Cutlass the go to GM car in this class.
Back when they were new, the Colonnade sedans always seemed rare to me in comparison to the crazy-popular coupes, with their vinyl tops and opera windows. To see a sedan today seems like a real special find! This one looks like it has been around the world a few times, but still is chugging on in 2015. Cool find!
I had a ’74 Malibu Classic that looked just like this, only in bronze, in the early 80s.
I traded a Mazda 1800 SW; and after a spat of economy station wagons: Datson 510, VW Squareback, and a Datson B210; the Malibu, with 350 and 2barrel carb was a whole different way of hauling mom and 3 kids around in comfort we weren’t used to.
It Got 18-20mpg on the highway and after the others getting maybe 22 in the same kind of trips; the high speed passing on the mostly 2 lane roads we drove on, and the comfort of the seats (sort of a corduroy cloth) the couple of dollars difference didn’t mean nothing, and it handled pretty good; if you had good shocks.
One of the cars I look back on with fondness, and I liked the looks, altho I know some don’t care for stacked headlights. Wished GM still made something similar.
It looked like this:
It looked like this: edit :opps wrong picture and maybe year-it may have been 75 but did have stacked headlights and seems like my old memory says 74?
Do you remember what the taillights looked like? The front end could have been changed.
73 had 4 round lights and the License plate in the bumper.
74 had 2 semi-oval lights deeply set and the License plate moved up above the bumper.
75 Looked just like the feature car
76 and 77 had narrow horizontal lights License above the bumper.
Here’s a 74.
Well…I have looked all over the web; and not much info on this generation Malibu (73-77); Wiki gives one small page for the third. But; ta-ta-da; another search yielded another, better authority: CC.☺
But…the second picture I posted above; was labeled as a 1975; and the one in Jason’s article is supposed to be a ’75, with single lights, also…?
The car i had was a ’75 as it had the rear lights like the car in this article; and looked like the one in Jason’s from the side; all except the front end.
I knew some of the two door cheaper models had different front ends then high end models; maybe the four door’s did too? As i don’t think the car i had, had ever been worked on.
You could get single round Headlights through 1977 on Malibus. The awful Stacked Quads were reserved for the Malibu Classic and Monte.
I do not understand the hate for stacked quads. I like them.
I feel that when the basic body shape is as curvy as this, sharp angular details like stacked quads just don’t work somehow. That’s how I feel. Your aesthetics may vary.
Old Pete said “I feel that when the basic body shape is as curvy as this, sharp angular details like stacked quads just don’t work somehow. That’s how I feel. Your aesthetics may vary.”
Proving once again that in matters of taste , everyone else is wrong =8-) .
Stacked round quads or stacked rectangular quads? The problem with the rectangulars in my eyes is they take up as much real estate as large round headlights do, and in most cases did quite literally do that. Stacked rounds on the other hand are physically narrower and can accentuate a bladed look to the fenders when stacked.
I have always liked the looks of the Colonnade sedans, but the Malibu is the weak link here. It is as though the stylists shaved every interesting styling feature off of the others, and this is what was left. Some might call it clean, I call it bland. And this was also the time when stylists stopped paying any attention whatsoever to the looks of the dogdish hubcaps.
I always thought the BOP Colonnade sedans were fairly elegant and refined, but the Malibu missed the mark. The Malibu and LeMans coupes were even worse, although Regal and Cutlass coupes fared much better.
In basic form the Malibu looked very, well, basic. The interior was total taxicab, but without the durability. And look at that bumper. Looks like an I-beam was just stuck on the back. You would think by 1975 they could integrate the bumpers a bit better. It’s as if GM realized at the last minute that Chevy needed a version of these and the stylists just phoned it in.
If this is Seattle, the dog dishes might point to a former Seattle PD vehicle… yes, no? There could be a little more than a 250 or 305 lurking under that hood.
75 was the last year for the 454 but I doubt this car went that big.
There was no 305 in 1975, it was introduced in 1976. The base V8 in 1975 was a 350-2bbl L65.
The narrow wheels suggest not. The dog dishes would be noticeably more recessed if it had the wide wheels. Cop cars all had the wider wheels, which really look much better in those big fender openings.
I don’t have the info for 1975, but 1974 shows that police equipped Malibus came with 15 x 6″ wheels like all civilian cars. 1975 shows that all coupes and sedans came with 15 x 6″ wheels, only wagons and El Caminos for 15 x 7″. That said, there were a wide variety of tires with varying widths on these wheels. And who knows if these are the original wheels on the car?
1974 shows the police package only available with the 400-2bbl. You had to step up to a full size to get the 454 in a police car.
There’s also no sway bar under the rear axle…the telltale sign this isn’t a police package or civilian F41 car.
You beat me to it; that’s a sure tell-tale. And although Bill Mitchell is the expert, those wheels still look narrow to me. Maybe it’s just that the tires are on the small side.
Very narrow rims on that car even those small tyres flare out from the rim bead.
I agree the wheels look very narrow on that car which is why I thought they might not be the original wheels? Who knows what has been changed on this car over the last 40 years. They could be a set of 15 x 5 ” from another Chevy. Good call on the sway bar.
I attached a copy of the factory literature about the police spec Chevelle for 1974.
Here’s a 1976 Chevelle police car for reference.
An SFPD 1976 Chevelle
Bill, comparing the wheels to those police Malibus, especially the white one, I’m pretty convinced that the featured Malibu is wearing 5″ rims. The hub caps are essentially flush with the bead. Obviously, perspective can be an issue, but I’ve become a pretty good judge of wheel rim width, and these look narrower than the cop cars. As you said, they may well have been changed out. Or maybe some 5″ wheels got through the line for six cylinder cars. Stranger things have happened.
Agreed, they do look smaller when comparing the two. I also wouldn’t be surprised if a six cylinder car slipped through with 5″ rims, especially if it was some sort of fleet order. GM was always more willing to bend the rules on fleet ordered COPO cars.
SPD was all Dodge/Plymouth from the mid 60’s (or earlier) to the late 80’s when Dodge gave up on the Diplomat
I also wonder if it was a police car. The Patina on the doors and fenders seem to be about the size and shape of wordage that would be on a police car. As for the tires and wheels, a lot would have happened to a car in 40 years. I see ex police cars around town that have been modified.
In the past few weeks, I’ve seen a rough-looking colonnade Malibu several times on my way out of work. It’s a coupe, and wearing red primer, but it’s being driven. Also, I saw what I thought was either a Buick Special or an Olds Cutlass S (couldn’t see it very well) parked off in a side street. First colonnades I’ve seen on the street in quite some time!
I absolutely love the shot, but I have a feeling literally any other car in that exact spot, in that exact light, taken by the same photographer would be more desirable to me. I just never liked the Collonades, especially the sedans, and even more especially the Chevys, which are the weakest most generic of the bunch. I’d easily take pick the Torino over it in 1975
That’s a great photo. Mr. Kwanten is one of my favorite Cohort contributors, by far. That’s has to be downtown Seattle in the background. I think the building on the far left is the Washington Mutual Building.
I’ve got to wonder just how old those whitewall tires are. They look like they’re all one pothole away from a flat.
That’s a exceptional photo of an unexceptional car. It’s only claim to fame is it’s survival, which truth be told has now made it special. I always thought that these were deadly dull when they were rolling down the assembly line. Some of these were so cheaply equipped that they still had rubber floors instead of carpet. I remember the smell of the rubber floormats mixed with the smell of the cheap vinyl upholstery. I always wondered who would buy one of these things? Pep Boys is the place to buy cheap new whitewalls.
If anyone can help, I was talking to someone who has a 73/74 Century coupe here in oz and he is desperately looking for body panels, esp. for the rear of the car.
Try to source/get a whole parts car. Will be probably easier.
That’s what I told him but I thought I’d put it out there anyway. He loves his car, but its not really the sort of model where repro or NOS parts are available.
Another really great shot from A. Kwanten. I can almost smell “old GM car” smell emanating from this car, from looking at this picture.
I really liked my ’76 Malibu Classic. I was by no means a perfect car, but it had a lot going for it, being a solid, comfortable cruiser with decent lines and cool features for a 70’s car.
As far as the rear styling of the Colonnade Chevelles / Malibus / Lagunas, I like the 75’s second only to the round-taillight 73’s. I though the more linear looking rear panel (over the curved 74’s) with the simple taillamp lens arrangement looked good.
Hands down the 73 had the best tail end of the line, for me. It seems like every year was dumbed down just a bit more every year.
It seemed as though Chevrolet quickly figured out that its best bet was to put most of its effort into the Monte Carlo.
The Colonnade Monte Carlo was a huge sales success, and almost made the Malibus seem superfluous.
As much as I love the Colonnade coupes I dislike the sedans. The proportions seem off for some reason.
There is an “Easter Egg” on the 1975 cars. There is a small Chevrolet Bow Tie in the center of the lense. I always thought that was a neat touch.
Looking at this car, along with all the disparaging comments from people who were around when it was new, has the Malibu nameplate ever been affixed to a car that wasn’t the most bland, generic, cheaply equipped fleet-oriented GM sedan available in its time period?
It surprises me because enthusiasts act like the resurrected N-body Malibu was such an insult to the “classic” nameplate, but it looks like it filled exactly the same role in the 1970s as it did in the year 2000. Then, as now, the styling/advertising/quality focus seemed to be on the larger and more expensive Impala. I’m sure there were plenty of these Malibus in car rental fleets and government motorpools in 1975, too. If anything, the 08+ Malibu is the most stylish, consumer-oriented version ever.
As for the car in the photo – I always love a well worn ’70s/’80s daily driver, and the bland four door generic-ness makes it even more appealing than a Mustang or Monte Carlo.
Umm yes, the Malibu, originally, was to the Chevelle what the Impala was to the Bel Air.
Yes, I know, I’m mostly referring to when it became a stand-alone model (which I guess wasn’t technically until the 1978 version, but most of the 73-77s carried the Malibu suffix and it began to eclipse the Chevelle moniker – note how Paul didn’t even include that name in the title). I’m simply making an observation that the intermediate Chevy had become decidedly cheap and blah looking by the ’70s, if it had ever been that special to start with. If one wants to argue the name “Malibu” was ever on a classic super desirable car, it would have only been for a brief period as a trim level in the late-60s, at most.
I won’t argue about the Malibu being blanded in the period this car was made, and especially when it became stand alone, I totally agree. But nobody who is disparaging to the N body rehash is thinking of sucky 70s-80s versions. It was a good name that GM ran into the dirt, like so many others, and once they had the idea to revive the name over a decade later, did they put it on a car that was a cut above? No, they made it a lousy continuation of the bland cars the Malibu became, the ones that prompted GM to drop the name in the first place.
Here’s a hypothetical situation that should put perspective to enthusiasts ire – Imagine Chevy revived the Bel Air name today, after it’s LONG absence, long enough for most people to fondly remember only the good ones, and when it’s unveiled it’s…. a stripper Impala package like it ended. That’s what the 97 Malibu essentially was, had it been a decent car like the 08-current ones I think it would deserve a pass but those N bodies were terrible cars, like a bad remake of a bad sequal to a good original movie.
My 2003 Malibu is a very good car. It has 160,000 miles, runs great and never broke down in 3 years, just normal maintenance and parts are cheap. Even in NE Ohio it has very little rust.
Why do you say they are terrible cars?
I’ll agree with you on the colonnade Malibus, and on the later years of the A/G-body version when it looked like the Impala’s mini-me. However (and trying to look past my acknowledged bias) I think that criticism doesn’t apply to the first couple years of the downsized model. If you’re looking for “the most bland, generic, cheaply equipped fleet-oriented GM sedan” in ’78 or ’79, one needs to look no farther than the Nova. How many Nova LN/Concours does one see, or did one ever see, compared to the dog-dish no-option stripper versions? It was an old design that looked cheap, felt cheap, and was cheap. Whereas one saw quite a number of well-appointed, nicely optioned, even dressy Malibus of the same years. Perhaps it was riding some of the Impala/Caprice’s mojo, but I think those showed up in ’78 with sharp, tailored styling, the right size, and attractive option choices. As the design aged, the basic and fleet versions of course took up a larger portion of sales, and by ’82 it was being positioned as a shrunken Caprice and was down to one trim level. But it didn’t start that way, and if you excuse the disappointing engine output (95 to 150 HP) the ’78 to ’80 cars seem, to me, like worthy successors to the ’64 to ’72 Malibus. (I’ll arbitrarily make the cutoff ’80 rather than ’81 as the more distinctive six-window roofline got “formalized” for ’81.)
I think Malibus look best when weathered and worn. Until then they are a blank canvas.
I agree. The older brother of a high school friend had one of these back in the late-80, silver with a medium blue interior. He bought it in Texas so the paint had oxidized to a completely matte finish that suited the generic look of the vehicle well. The downside of the Texas origin was that the interior had basically disintegrated, the padded dash split and flaking apart, the vinyl in the seats cracking at the seams.
Thing rode like a tank though, decent performance with the 2V 305. Also, typical to GMs of that era, the ignition switch had worn to the point where the car could be started without the key.
Very nice photo. I do have one question though, is this car still roadworthy and actually driven? It looks like the one tire is pretty low on air and the windows are covered in grime.
I still don’t understand the appeal of patina though. When I see a car like this to me it’s not a survivor, it’s a neglected car. I compare this car to my Dad’s old ’76 Malibu which has been driven on a regular basis since 1976 and there is no comparison. But my dad actually put in effort to keep his car looking great while still using it as a daily driver. Because of that, I do the same with my cars today.
What a gorgeous photo! I need to check out more of Mr. Kwanten’s work…
I love Colonnades, but the Chevelle always left me cold (except the Laguna Type S-3). JPC is absolutely right: it looks like they were robbed of unique styling details.
The 1973-77 GM Colonnade class DEFINED the American coupe
My Aunt had a red 1975 Bu, 4 doors, black vinyl top, and vinyl bench
seats, front and back, with typical hideous black & white checkered
inserts. LOL! They bought it new. As I was little back then I didn’t know
if it had a V6 or V8 up front, but I remember it being large, and smooth and
quiet enough to make out “Afternoon Delight” playing on the radio even with
all the windows open as Aunt Betty drove the lot of us to the beach for
My other Aunt owned a used Colonnade coupe in
the late 1990s – a dark green Pontiac Gran Prix
with dark vinyl or leather buckets interior. For
some reason the driver’s door on this example
would not fully close, despite our best efforts.
Either the door sagged too low to mate the
striker, or the strike itself had shifted over time.
It was clean and mostly rust-free though.
A mid-size frame good and sturdy enough to carry the next generation
B-body full-sizes for the next 14 years, beginning with the ’77s.
I wonder how long a car has to sit before the dirt & grime accumulation becomes obvious. I parked in a garage the other day, and several relatively new cars in the structure had DEEP layers of goop on them. Does it accumulate quicker outdoors, or in a parking structure?
My pal lived next door. His dad had a black 2 dr 350. I was 15 then, my buddy was 16…with a fresh licence. He learned to wheel that thing around the neighbourhood pretty good with me hanging out the passengerside…one day he let me take the wheel…when no one was looking, I learned to drive a car thanks to him. I still remember flooring that Malibu and the woosh of air going into the engine made an impressive feeling. No seatbelt laws back then, and long side roads to fling this barge hurtling down city streets was ultra dangerous….but then the youthful thrill of it all was too much for a bunch of teenagers. We took the Malibu to the beach and the drive in with girls and guys loaded in the trunk, backseat and bench front….for 5 bucks a carload….was so much fun, with no responsibilities back then. Wonder how we all survived!
I can’t be the only person who thinks it would be a hoot to drop a big block under the hood, shore up the surely-rough interior a bit, and leave the exterior as-is. Well, maybe add those wider police-spec wheels (you’re gonna need them), but keep the dog-dish hubcaps.
After i had my ’75 Malibu; there was a guy in the same town that had one; he blacked it out (shiny paint not flat black) even black chrome bumpers, wheels, and trim; that was one sinister cool car. I envied him; driving my mom & pop car.
Looked for one i had seen before on the web, couldn’t find it, but found this newer ’06 Malibu SS. Sometimes all a car needs, including some newer ones; is black paint:
oh; no affiliation with Northwoods.☺