The Chevrolet Malibu Fourth generation 1978–1983

The Chevrolet Malibu Fourth generation 1978–1983

For the 1978 model year, the Malibu name which had been the bestselling badge in the lineup replaced the Chevelle name. This was Chevrolet's second downsized nameplate, following the lead of the 1977 Chevrolet Caprice. The new, more efficient platform was over a foot shorter and had shed 500 to 1,000 pounds (230 to 450 kg) compared to previous versions, yet offered increased trunk space, leg room, and head room
Only two trim levels were offered - Malibu and Malibu Classic. The Malibu Classic Landau series had a two tone paint job on the upper and lower body sections, and a vinyl top.

Three bodystyles were produced (station wagon, sedan, and coupe). The sedan initially had a conservative six-window notchback roofline, in contrast to the unusual fastback rooflines adopted by Oldsmobile and Buick divisions. To reduce cost, the windows in the rear doors of 4-door sedans were fixed, while the wagons had small moveable vents. No doubt this design contributed to the number of factory air conditioning units sold with the cars, to the benefit of General Motors and Chevy dealers. In 1981, sedans adopted a four-window profile and "formal" pillared upright roofline. The 2-door coupe was last produced in 1981. The 1982 Malibu was facelifted with more squared-off front styling marked by quad headlights with long, thin turn signals beneath them. The look was very reminiscent of the recently facelifted Chevrolet Caprice. For 1983, Malibus gained a block-style "Malibu" badge on the front fenders to replace the cursive-style script located on the rear quarter panels of previous model years.

Among collectors, the last El Caminos have attracted interest, and the coupe has been sought after by drag racers and sometimes spotted as street machines, though not as prized as the first or second generation muscle cars.

The 4-door Malibu was also used in fleets, especially for law enforcement usage. After the Chevrolet Nova ceased production in 1979, the mid-size 9C1 police option (not to be confused with the full-size Chevrolet Impala 9C1 which was also available) was transferred to the Malibu, filling a void for mid-sized police vehicles. A 9C1-equipped Malibu with an LT-1 Z-28 Camaro engine driven by E. Pierce Marshall placed 13th of 47 in the 1979 Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, better known as the Cannonball Run

There was no factory Malibu SS option available from . The SS only came in the El Camino. A very rare 1980 Malibu M80 was a dealer package for only North and South Carolina in an effort to revive the muscle car era. It was however mostly aimed at Nascar fans who regularly traveled to Darlington Raceway. To this day, it's unknown how many are left or were actually produced. (Estimates place this around 1,901 cars) All M80's had to be white with dark blue bucket seat and center console interior. The base of the M80 was a 2-door sport coupe equipped with the F41 Sport Suspension package and the normal V8 (140 hp) drive train. The M80 option added two dark blue skunk stripes up top and a lower door stripe with the M80 identification. The package also added front and rear spoilers and 1981 steel rally wheels.

In Mexico, General Motors produced this generation in the Ramos Arizpe plant, and was sold during three years (1979 to 81). Mexican versions came in three trim levels (Chevelle, Malibu and Malibu Classic) and two body styles (Sedan & Coupe) with the 250-cubic-inch (4.1 L) l-6 as basic engine and the 350-cubic-inch (5.7 L) 260 hp (194 kW) V-8 as the optional; this engine was standard on Malibu Classic models, during the three years of selling. This was possible because the Mexican regulations about emissions were more flexible than in the U.S.A.

Iraqi taxi
In 1981, General Motors of Canada in Oshawa produced a special order of 25,500 4-door Malibu sedans for Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government. The deal was reportedly worth well over $100 million to GMCL. These special order Malibus carried the unusual combination of GM's lowest-power carburated V6, the 110 hp (82 kW) 229-cubic-inch (3.8 L) engine mated to 3-speed transmission with a unique on-the-floor stick shifter. All of the cars were equipped with air conditioning, heavy duty cooling systems, AM/FM cassette decks, front bench seats, 200 km/h speedometers, tough tweed and vinyl upholstery and 14-inch (360 mm) stamped steel wheels with "baby moon" hubcaps.

However only 13,000 units ever made it to Iraq, with the majority of the cars becoming taxis in Baghdad (once the cab-identifying orange paint was added to the front & rear fenders)[citation needed]. However in 1982 with the balance of about 12,500 additional Malibus either sitting on a dock in Halifax or awaiting port shipment in Oshawa, where they were built, the Iraqis suddenly cancelled the order.[3] Excuses reportedly included various "quality concerns" including the inability of the local drivers to shift the finicky Saginaw manual transmission. This issue was eventually identified as being due to an apparent clutch release issue that eventually required on-site retrofitting by a crew of Canadian technicians sent to Iraq to support the infamous "Recall in the Desert". Later speculation was that the Iraqis were actually forced to back out for financial reasons, due to their escalating hostilities with Iran requiring the immediate diversion of funds to support the Iraqi war effort. Then GM of Canada President Donald Hackworth was initially quoted as stating GMCL intended still try to sell the Malibus overseas in other Middle East markets; however in the end, the orphaned "Iraqi Taxi" Malibus were all sold to the Canadian public at the greatly reduced price of approximately $6,800 CAD. Over the years they have acquired a low-key 'celebrity' status, sometimes being colloquially referred to as "Iraqibu".

In fact, the cars that were imported in to Iraq were actually given by Saddam Hussain to members of the armed forces, especially officers and the families of soldiers / officers who were killed in action during the Iraq-Iran war. No Taxis were seen on the roads


The Malibu was an extensively used body style in NASCAR competition from 1973 to 1983. The Laguna S-3 variant in particular was extremely successful during the 1975-77 racing seasons, allowing Cale Yarborough to win 20 races in those years as well as winning the NASCAR championship one year. As it was considered a limited edition model, 'NASCAR' declared it ineligible for competition following the 1977 season, even though (given NASCARs three year eligibility rule) it should have been allowed to run thru 1979. Beginning in 1981 the downsized Malibu body style was eligible to run, but given its apparent boxy shape only one driver Dave Marcis ran it in 1981 and 1982 with one victory in a rain shorten race at Richmond Fairgrounds in 1982.

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