Fifty Years of the Chevrolet Malibu

The Chevrolet Malibu was introduced to American drivers in 1964, and was touted as an “intermediate” car, but it was destined to become much more. Released as an upscale sub-model of the Chevrolet Chevelle, it quickly became clear that the Malibu could be considered a contender in its own right during the muscle car ‘wars’ of the 1960s. In short order, a powerful ‘Super Sport’ (SS) version was produced, representing an official acknowledgement of the Malibu’s street performance.

Oil shortages and increasingly stringent federal crash standards saw the third generation Malibu grow larger in size, yet gain more efficiency in power. For a brief period of time, the SS version of the Malibu was dropped in favor of a “Laguna” model. The fourth iteration of the Malibu model saw the “Chevelle” name removed, and a distinctly smaller platform was introduced.

After the fourth generation of Malibu came to an end in 1983, the model went on hiatus until 1997, where it entered its fifth generation. This Malibu represented a fundamental shift in its design and powertrain. Instead of being a front engine and rear wheel drive car (FR), the Malibu became a front engine and front wheel drive car (FF)—pitting it in direct competition with other FF sedans of its day. The Malibu has continued with this layout ever since.

Some things remain unchanged; the Malibu name conjures images of the beach life upon which it was inspired. Families across America continue to enjoy the Malibu as an affordable sedan that can moonlight as a performance vehicle.