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 and Impala. 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.

For the 1981 model year, sedans adopted a four-window profile and “formal” pillared upright roofline. The two-door coupe was last produced in this year, as the Monte Carlo assumed the market position held by the 2-door coupe. For 1982 the 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 also recently facelifted Chevrolet Caprice.

The four-door Malibu was commonly used in fleet service, especially for law enforcement. After the Chevrolet Nova ceased production in 1979, the mid-sized 9C1 police version (not to be confused with the full-size Chevrolet Impala 9C1 which was also available) was transferred to the Malibu, filling a void for the mid-sized police patrol cars.

What exactly was a 9C1 Malibu and how was it different to a civilian car? There were two body styles offered: the 1AT19 4 door sedan and the 1AT27 two door coupe. These cars received a full perimeter frame using higher gauge sheet metal than the passenger car specification. The suspension package was essentially the F41 plus special springs and shocks, front and rear sway bars, front suspension jounce bumpers and the front sway bar was even thicker than the standard F41 offering. Special Police tires and heavy duty 14×6 vented high gauge metal wheels were used as well. The chassis and body had special mounts. The engines used was usually the Chevrolet LT1 350 four barrel or the LG4 305 four barrel. Both came with high capacity 1 quart oil filters. 1981 was the last year that the LT1 350 V8 was offered.
Even more special gear included a fully balanced drive shaft, temperature-controlled fan and a master cylinder-brake booster combo that used a proportioning valve to control the amount of rear end lift in hard braking. All cars used the 3-speed automatic transmission and had power steering. Other standard police goodies were the K81 63-amp alternator and Special Equipment Option (SEO) Z29 calibrated police speedometer with 2 mph increments.
That’s your basic package; extras were available such as a full instrument gauge package 7Z2 including speedometer, 6C1 heavy duty front bench seat, 6F3 split bench seat or 6139 HD bucket seats. Of course, to power all those radio and lamp gadgets you got the UA1 heavy duty battery as well. These cars were quite popular with law enforcement agencies, and you’d be surprised where the majority of them wound up. The northern and southern states placed big orders. Out of 4,100 cars sold in the first quarter of 1979, 700-900 went to North Carolina, Michigan grabbed another 700 cars, Ohio used 600 and the city of Chicago alone took 400 of these cars in 1979.

Year Model Available Engines:

1978 = 200 V6 (95 hp), 231 (3.8 L) V6 (105 hp), 305 V8 (140 hp), 350 V8 (165 hp)
1979 = 200 V6 (95 hp), 231 (3.8 L) V6 (115 hp), 267 V8 (125 hp), 305 V8 (140 hp), 350 V8 (165 hp)
1980 = 229 V6 (110 hp), 231 (3.8 L) V6 (110 hp), 267 V8 (115 hp), 305 V8 (140 hp), 350 V8 (170 hp)
1981 = 229 V6 (110 hp), 231 (3.8 L) V6 (110 hp), 267 V8 (115 hp), 305 V8 (140 hp), 350 V8 (170 hp)
1982 = 229 V6 (110 hp), 231 (3.8 L) V6 (110 hp), 4.3 L V6 Diesel (85 hp), 305 V8, 350 V8 Diesel (105 hp)
1983 = 229 V6 (110 hp), 231 (3.8 L) V6 (110 hp), 4.3 L V6 Diesel (85 hp), 305 V8, 350 V8 Diesel (105 hp)

1979 Chevy Malibu Specifications:

RPO L26 (A):
3.3L 200 cid V6
94 HP @ 4,000 RPM
154 ft-lbs torque @ 2,000 RPM
Axle Ratio: 2.73
5.0L 305 cid V8
160 HP @ 4,000 RPM
235 ft-lbs torque @ 2,400 RPM
Axle Ratio: 2.73
5.7L 350 cid V8
170 HP @ 3,800 RPM
270 ft-lbs torque @ 2,400 RPM
Axle Ratio: 2.73

1983 Chevy Malibu Specifications:

The Michigan State Police (MSP) tested the Chevy Malibu 9C1 in 1983 and recorded this information:

  • Engine Displacement: 305 cid / 5.0 liters
  • Carburetor: 4-barrel
  • Exhaust: Single
  • Horsepower @ RPM: 145 / 4,000
  • Torgue LBS @ RPM: 240 / 1,600
  • Compression Ratio: 8.6:1
  • Axle Ratio: 2.73
  • Tire Size: P205/70R/14
  • Weight: 3,516 lbs
  • MPG: 18-City / 26-Highway / 21-Combined
  • 0-60 MPH: 11.71 Seconds
  • 0-100 MPH: 40.73 Seconds
  • Top Speed: 116.3 MPH