Ultra-clean California car. Fuel-injected 409, 4-speed, power steering, power disc brakes. Gorgeous interior, incredible paint and bodywork. Fast, comfortable, beautifully finished. What a car!
There’s something to be said for minimalism, and the early A-bodies work rather well with their clean-cut features and simple lines. No stripes, no spoilers, and not even that much trim, it lets the body’s shape do all the talking. The bulging quarter panels suggest power on tap but the flat hood and semi-formal roofline make this a grown-up’s car, not a boy racer. It’s the right size, too, making it maneuverable and trim and it never feels clumsy on the road. Obviously there was a huge amount of time invested in the bodywork, and it’s not merely straight but all the gaps were lined up extremely well and all the hinges swing with minimal effort. The car comes from California, and it really is true that the metal is better out west and during the build, it didn’t need a single patch, replacement panel, or, weld. A few parking lot dings were straightened and the side moldings were shaved, but beyond that, it’s pretty much as GM stamped it back in ’64. It’s every bit as nice as it looks in photos, maybe even better.
The interior was given a full makeover but in the original style, so it feels very period-correct. The two-tone saddle and black upholstery has an OEM pattern and it’s wrapped around the factory bench seats. Perforated inserts on the seating surfaces give it a racy look that works well with the beefy Grant GT steering wheel. Factory gauges, including a tachometer, are all fully operational and a neat little digital radio was tucked into the original slot so it blends in nicely. A Hurst cue ball knob and shifter manages the Muncie 4-speed underneath, and racking it through the gears is one of the great joys of motoring. The list of new stuff also includes the carpets, headliner, seat belts, and weather seals. You can see just how solid and clean this car is by glancing in the trunk, which has correct spatter paint and a new mat.
Chevy never put a 409 in the mid-sized Malibu—it was against corporate rules. The distinctive W-shaped valve covers make the 409 easy to identify, but the fabricated aluminum intake plenum and fuel injection system give it a 21st century look that seems right. Thanks to that fuel injection system, it starts instantly and idles beautifully and with the 409’s reputation for torque this lightweight Malibu is incredibly quick. And like the rest of the car, it’s beautifully detailed with Chevy Orange paint on the block, Chevrolet script valve covers, and red ignition components compliments of MSD. And don’t worry, this Malibu is totally user-friendly with power steering and a hydro-boost power brake system with front discs. A giant aluminum radiator has no problems keeping it cool even in the summer heat and a chrome alternator and Optima battery light it up. Obviously, this build wasn’t about saving money and cutting corners.
There’s more evidence of the car’s spotless California history underneath, where the floor pans look spectacular, the frame is unmarked, and everything else is either new or rebuilt. The second-gen Borg-Warner Super T-104-speed feeds an indestructible 12-bolt rear end with 3.42 gears and a limited slip inside. The front suspension is entirely new, there are fresh shocks all around, and oversized sway bars fore and aft give this mid-sized car the handling of something much smaller. Ceramic-coated long-tube headers feed a rumbling Flowmaster exhaust system that sounds absolutely spectacular and it has the right stance for a ‘60s performance car. Traditional Weld Pro-Star wheels help with that drag race image and it sits on fat BFGoodrich T/A radials.
This is one of those cars that just keeps getting better and better the more time we spend with it. The ultra-clean bodywork alone would justify the cost, but that bulletproof and very user-friendly drivetrain makes it a joy to drive. There’s easily twice the asking price wrapped up in the build, but that’s another great thing about the Malibu: it’s all about affordable performance. No disappointments with this car, just a killer hardtop that walks the walk even better than it talks the talk. Call today!
For more details and photos, please visit www.HarwoodMotors.com