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California Dream

Named after Malibu, California, the Chevy Malibu was introduced in 1964 as a new rear-wheel drive midsize option between the full-size vehicles and the compact vehicles that Chevrolet offered. It was a slim and sleek submodel of the '64 Chevelle and had a wide range of options from body styles to engine sizes. The Malibu came as a convertible, hardtop, sedan, and two or four-door station wagon. It also had the Super Sport version that came with a 396ci V8 with 375 horsepower in support of the growing craze in muscle cars.  The base engine was a 194ci inline-six, but different options were available, such as a 327ci V8 with 300 horsepower. Its body-on-frame construction, roomy interior, and affordable price attracted many buyers and kicked off one of Chevy's longest model lines.

The Malibu Gets its own Line

The Malibu stuck with its slender style but upped its performance. The 327ci even jumped up 50 horsepower in the following year. Sticking with the sporty look, in '68 the Malibu molded into a fastback style, had a plethora of V8 options, and beautified its interior with wood grain trim. While emissions regulations choked engine performance in the ‘70s, the Malibu ended its convertible and SS version by '73. It shrunk in size and weight for the '78 model year and was awarded its own line after it replaced the Chevelle. It aimed for the mid-size sedan crowd, but was eventually dropped in '83 in place of the Chevy Celebrity.

A Cali Comeback

When the Malibu was brought back in '97 it was entirely different than its former self. The platform had been switched from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive and offered a V6 with 155 horsepower or a 4-cylinder 150 horsepower engine. The styling still had a sporty edge, but this would morph over time into a more modern style sedan. Interestingly enough, the car did win Motor Trend's "Car of the Year Award." The SS returned in 2004 with a 3.9L V6 with 240 horsepower, and a short-lived hybrid joined the line up for the 2008 year. The newest generation features stop-start technology with a 2.5L 4-cylinder direct injection engine with 196 horsepower, or the optional 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder engine with 259 horsepower. The interior is adequately sized with solid trunk space, a quiet interior, and optional leather seats with a newly designed plastic panel trim. Affordable, sturdy, dependable, and loaded with all the standard comforts, the Malibu is an excellent car for the mid-size sedan perfectionist.

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