Next to the Corvette and Suburban, few other cars in Chevrolet’s lineup have had a more storied history than the Malibu. Not only is the new 2013 model Chevy's latest hope in the global midsize sedan fight, but the nameplate itself has been affixed to more than 8.5 million cars built over the past five decades.
Chevy introduced the Malibu nameplate in 1964 as a top-of-the-line model for the Chevelle, which was available a coupe, convertible and four-door sedans and station wagons. One of its many engine choices was the 327 cubic-inch V-8-engine that was rated at 300 hp and was soon increased to 350 hp the year after. Through most of the late 60s and 70s, the Malibu was regularly redesigned and offered with a number of engine choices including a big-block, 396-cubic-inch V-8 and the small-block 350.
The third-gen Malibu also had a successful run in NASCAR, especially from 1973-1977 when it appeared at the winner’s circle 25 times. The fourth-gen Malibu, which was offered from 1978 to 1983, was a smaller in terms of both its physical size and engine displacements. After 1983, the nameplate would disappear temporarily, although the Malibu's rear-wheel-drive configuration would be banished for good.
Chevrolet revived the name in 1997 for a new front-wheel-drive sedan, which was built on a stretched version of the Pontiac Grand Am's N platform. This new Malibu was offered only as a sedan, although buyers did have a say in engine choices: offerings included a 150-hp 2.4-liter I-4 and a 155-hp 2.4-liter V-6.
The Malibu is currently on its seventh-generation and it has proven to be a worthy sedan in the highly competitive midsize-sedan market. An all-new 2013 Malibu is just around the corner and its global sales and name recognition should get a big boost as it will be introduced to a number of international markets like China and South Korea. So while it’s unlikely the Malibu will ever hearken back to its muscle car roots, it appears to be settling into its new role as a solid family hauler quite nicely.
Enjoy the photo gallery below showing some of the different eras of the Malibu.