Mean Mom Car: 1981 Chevrolet Malibu Wagon V8

Chevrolet's 'Malibu' line has always cracked me up.

When they don't use number codes (the way most European cars do) most auto manufacturers typically use an adjective to name a car. Or they make up a word, from a combination of other words. Rarely, however, do they use a noun to name a car. Why? Well most nouns are already associated with something else in the public's mind, so it becomes difficult for consumers to suddenly associate it with a car.

But  if you're going to use a noun to name a car, it might as well be something like Malibu, after Malibu, California, famous beach-side community of wealthy thespians and the like.

Chevrolet did just that.

What's even more interesting about the Chevrolet Malibu is not just the shamefully obvious name association but the startling number of different cars Chevrolet gave the Malibu name to over the past 50 years.

First it was a full-range of mid-size cars from 1964-1967, including a decent looking convertible, which was probably the closest any Malibu would come to emulating anything remotely California-like. Then it shared a body and nameplate with the Chevelle for the muscle-car years of 1968-1972. From '73-'77 it was a hideous barge, before it turned into an econobox from '78-83. Then there was the rental-fleet sedan-only of the 90s, and again a re-booted but nevertheless boring sedan for the post-millennium.

This here is fourth-generation Malibu from 1981.

It's a station wagon body. But it's not just any 1981 Malibu.

This is one lean, clean, mean muscle machine.

With black paint, chrome bumpers, hood bulge and tinted windows, it hints at some kind of suburban American menace. And trouble there sure is. The seller indicates that lurking under the hood is a V8 with an 1987 Monte Carlo SS transmission.

It looks like VIN decoded the vehicle as having a 6-cylinder, so the engine was no doubt a later swap. The seller says it has roughly 70K on the new engine and transmission. The exact odometer reading is not disclosed.

This is a pretty solid and slick transformation from bland station wagon to stern '80s custom muscle sleeper. After the 1970s fuel crisis, U.S. auto manufacturers scaled back their gigantic designs and started making smaller, more fuel efficient cars in response to consumer demand. Unfortunately a great many of these cars were designed in the most restrained, boxy, and unimaginative manner ever seen in the history of auto making. The Malibu is no exception. With curves and then fins and then finally girth long gone as automotive trends, designers were left with smaller chassis and just the hard angles of a factory stamp mold. The Malibu wagon is especially severe, with the unintentionally minimalist rear trunk lid, featuring turn signals not even on the body and instead integrated into the bumper for a surprisingly different, almost truck-like look. Even Volvo hadn't done that.

The fourth-generation Malibu still had rear-wheel drive. With the V8 power, big tires and RWD this thing is probably an entertaining performer, and popular at cruise nights.

Find it here on ebay with only a couple days left of bidding and the reserve not met.

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