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Junkyard Gem: 1977 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Classic Coupe


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When General Motors introduced its new midsize A Platform for the 1964 model year, the A-based Pontiac GTO got most of the attention at the time. In the long run, though, the Chevrolet A-Bodies proved to be the platform's big success story. By the middle 1970s, The General was raking in big money with the Chevy Monte Carlo, essentially a Chevelle with a lengthened snout and a generous helping of vinyl-and-velour luxury plus crypto-Charlemagnic crests (though, to be fair, its Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme sibling outsold it in some years). For those car shoppers during the 1973-1977 period wanting Monte Carlo swank on a tight budget, the Chevrolet Division offered the reasonably sporty-looking Chevelle two-door. Here's one of those cars, found in a self-service car graveyard in Phoenix, Arizona.

All members of the 1964 Chevrolet A-Body were badged as Chevelles, including the truck-bed-equipped Chevelle El Camino (during the remainder of the 1960s, Chevelle badging gradually faded from Chevy's cartruck). At that time, the Malibu name was used to designate the Chevelle's top trim level.

The Malibu name proved so popular that it came to be seen as a model in its own right. By 1976all Chevelles were Malibus; for 1977, the Chevelle name remained in use for marketing materials but was not found in the cars themselves. Starting in 1978, the Chevelle name got the axe and the Malibu name has reigned supreme since that time (you can still buy a new Malibu today, despite years of stories of its impending demise).

Due to worries about ever-stricter rollover-safety regulations, The General replaced A-Body two-door hardtops with a fastback-ish pillared design known as the "Colonnade Hardtop" beginning with the 1973 model year. This included the Monte Carlo, which also got a few hundred pounds of added gingerbread and rococo body lines.

Those in the know understood that the Monte and the Malibu coupe were just about the same car, mechanically speaking, and that the Malibu Classic two-door could be optioned up to match the plushness of the Monte Carlo for much less money.

The MSRP for the cheapest possible 1977 Monte Carlo was $4,673 (about $24,586 in 2023 dollars), while a Malibu Classic coupe with the same powertrain as the Monte Carlo started at $4,455 ($23,439 after inflation). Add a few snazz-enhancing options and you'd minimize your Monte Envy.

Of course, you could save even more if you chose the base 250-cubic-inch (4.1-liter) straight-six engine in your Malibu. That's what the original buyer of this car did. This engine was rated at 105 horsepower and 185 pound-feet (the entry-level Malibu/Monte Carlo V8 was a 305 — aka 5.0-liter — with 140 horses and 245 pound-feet). With this setup, a 1977 Malibu Classic coupe started at just $3,926 ($20,656 now).

Of course, the '77 Monte came standard with an automatic transmission, while the six-cylinder Malibu Classic had a three-on-the-tree column-shift manual. The three-speed automatic in this car added $203 to its price ($1,068 in today's money).

It also has air conditioning, recommended in Arizona. The price tag: $471 ($2,478 now).

This car ended up here because of a not-so-hard crash that still caused enough damage to turn a running car into scrap metal, value-wise.

Comfortable, and considerate.

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