1983 Chevrolet Malibu sedan

Today’s Hemmings Daily blog had an entry that mentioned that the Chevrolet Malibu turns 50 years old this year, so I thought a post about the last of the 1980s Malibus would be appropriate.

“… a beautiful and practical choice …”

The 1983 Malibu was the final rear-wheel drive Malibu and the last Malibu of any kind until model year 1997. For 1983, Chevrolet eliminated the Malibu Classic designation and reverted to Malibu as the single trim level, which you could get in either a four-door sedan or a five-door wagon.

Standard motivation for the 3,100 to 3,200-pound sedan (weight largely depended on engine choice) was provided by the evergreen 3.8 liter LD5 two-barrel carburetor V6 hooked up to a three-speed automatic transmission, making 110 bhp and getting 20 city/29 highway by the standards of the day. Power options included two diesels (a V6 and a V8 that just about no one purchased) and the LG4 150 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with four-barrel carburetor rated at 18 city/26 highway.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $8,084 Malibu V6 sedan (about $19,300 in today’s dollars) included quad rectangular headlamps, high-energy ignition, a Delco Freedom II battery, power brakes (front disc/rear drum), power steering, and P185/75R14 glass-belted radial tires. Inside, a base Malibu came spare—highlights were the cigarette lighter, the locking glove compartment, and the day/night rearview mirror.

Moving to the V8 brought the Malibu sedan’s base price up $225 to $8,309 (about $19,800 in 2014 dollars). Options that were ordered in more than 50% of 1983 Malibus included air conditioning (the most expensive option at $725), tinted glass, remote left-hand side-view mirror, and rear window defogger.

1983 Chevrolet Malibu brochure cover, linked from the Old Car Manual Project’s amazing brochures section.

Interestingly, you could still order some performance-oriented options for the Malibu even in its final year. A limited-slip differential, performance rear axle, gauge package, heavy-duty battery, heavy-duty cooling, rally wheels, and the F40 heavy-duty suspension were all available, though I’m not convinced they found a lot of buyers among the total of 117,426 Malibus purchased in 1983.

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