This is perhaps the most built car Ive owned, a 1980 Malibu Classic

I originally purchased this car in 1988 while living in Anderson Indiana, as a stolen recovery out of Fort Lauderdale Florida for $550. Since that time shes undergone three iterations and a lot of duty cycles. Below are those different lives along with some of the build pictures taken along the way.


Phase 3 (today)

Going in reverse order, this latest iteration (2011) has been detuned and made streetable for my son, Joshua! She sat in storage for about fifteen years while waiting for Josh to come of age. That's when we tore her back apart and reworked both body and driveline. The previous street/strip motor had long since given up the ghost by way of four blown pistons (shattered ring landings). The block used here is out of a 1980 Corvette that I sold to a good friend as a project car.


Visiting the driveline we can see our freshly rebuilt motor which included forged I-beam rods, hypereutectic pistons, a mild cam and the factory Corvette heads.

We had valve lash problems during break-
in and discovered two of the rocker studs
(cylinder 3) were pulling from the head. We
think a combination of age and stiffer valve
springs (needed for the hotter camshaft)
caused this rather unusual condition. Our
problem became much worse when the
number four intake valve rocker stud boss
shattered, spitting out two chunks of cast
iron along with the rocker stud.


The value of our factory heads was about as questionable as their performance, so we located a set of World Products Torquer S/R Heads at a local machine shop. These are mild performance heads sporting a 67cc Chamber, 2.02 Intake, 1.65 Exhaust, and 170cc Intake Runners; they flow a whopping 221/153cfm at .500 lift. Installing these was major surgery, taking a full eleven-hour day to tear down the motor, clean gasket surfaces, reinstall, torque everything back down, adjust valve lash and set timing.


While dialing-in the motor we noticed wild fluctuation in the engine's temperature. The electric fan wasn't pulling enough air through the radiator and across the motor, so we switched to a stainless steel flex fan and topped it off with a chrome shroud.


Here are a few undercarriage shots taken during inspection.

After a number of starts we noticed the
factory starter was beginning to drag,
worsening as the day went on. We
verified the timing and realized the
problem was a weak factory starter,
so we replaced it with a quality gear
reduction unit. It's three to one ratio
gave us more than enough torque
at half the weight.


Next up was fabricating mounting points for the custom SS nose. We made a pair of two-piece mounts out of 1/8 inch aluminum stock. They also provided good mounting points for the fiberglass cowl induction hood.


Moving on to the rest of the body we removed the Drivers Side Door, replaced the worn-out electric window motor and stripped down the jam area to expose the rust that had occurred since she was painted some seventeen earlier. We applied Rust Mort (Acid Based Neutralizer) everywhere there appeared to be signs of rust. Afterwards, we replaced the metal, sanded all of the areas smooth again, resealed all of the seams with 3M Seam Sealer and covered it all with self etching primer and repainted. After 24-hours of curing we rebuilt the hinges with new bronze bushings and hardened steel pins before reassembling.


We performed the same restoration on the Passengers Side Door.


Fresh out of the paint booth and the color looks great!




Phase 2

This was my favorite iteration (1993),
the all white Pro Stocker!

Notice the 1968 Charger R/T sitting
under a tarp in the backdrop and
Sargeant, my full-blooded Doberman
Pinscher standing guard--he was awesome!



I scavenged this 12-bolt differential from a 1970 Chevelle found in the weeds of a local boneyard, fitted it with a rebuilt positraction unit and 488:1 gear set. The gauges are Auto Meter's Ultra-Lite line and the seats are Recaro found in a Fox Body.


As can be seen in the engine photo, above, everything in the doghouse was sandblasted down to bare metal, sealed with self-etching primer and painted satin black.




Phase 1

Purchased in 1988, the 1980 Malibu Classic
sported red paint and a green interior.

My brother hand-painted the text
"Not For The Innocent!"
and graphic across the trunk lid.