When I was in High School in 1987, I owned a blue 1979 Malibu that I just loved. I have always missed that car, having sold it in 1993. I decided to fix up another one, and enjoy the nostalgia. I made my wife promise to never let me sell it, no matter what. I hope to have this one until the end.
I found the basic shell of what I wanted. I had to drive into the hear of big scary New York City to get it. I wanted a car with a factory manual transmission. This one is a 1981, although someone already switched the header panel and tail lights to 1979. It was used for drag racing, and it was just a shell. No motor, trans or interior to speak of. It has the landau option that I didn't want, but I could remove that. That's my father in the picture.
It was way rustier than I thought. Doors were shot, floor, spare well, rear quarters, drivers rocker, all shot. Since parts are available, and labor is free, I decided to just power through it. Bought new doors, hood, fenders, rocker, floors and repaired or replaced everything. You can see in the pic the Landau rear windows and B pillar are already cut out. I put in new glass all around. I even found a rear non defrost, factory tinted back glass.
This was about as bad as it got. To look at it, it seemed like a lost cause. It looked beautiful to me, but no to many others. I got a few perplexed looks from people who inspected my dream.
After repairing the rust on the body shell, I stripped off all paint and previous bodywork. I wanted to start as close to zero as I could. I removed all factory fill and seam seal. This is the first fit up of the new panels. They all came back off after being aligned and drilling indexing holes for final assembly.
I found a really nice, low miles 1981 Monte Carlo on Craigslist for $600. Interior was good. Most importantly, It was a non-a/c car. I took the entire dashboard and heater box and installed them in the Malibu. I didn't want A/C, and definitely didn't want the A/C box intruding into the engine compartment. I stole a ton of parts out of this poor car. Fasteners, clips, wiring reference, assemble guide, under hood parts, window cranks, door latches, etc. I kinda felt bad for doing that to what was otherwise a nice G body. It saved my a ton of money and headache, though.
The Monte door panels were ok. I used SEM color coat, new carpet, and marine grade vinyl to refurbish them.
This is my friend Scott painting the backsides of the fenders and doors. This guy was instrumental in this project. He is a very talented bodyman who spent many Saturdays at my house helping. He likes turkey club sandwiches, and I bought us as many as he wanted. Thanks Scott.
I found a Subaru Outback in a parking lot with a shade of blue I loved. I went to the local dealer and they found the code for me. E7F Sky Blue Metallic. This is before the clear went on.
All cleared and back home. I was told to wait a week before assembling. I made it 16 hours.
I installed the headliner, carpet, dash, seats, etc. Most of the interior panels were bought new, the rest was from the Monte.
I got a Chevy 350 crate motor. Not really high perf, just a basic motor. I wanted this to be nice to drive. Sometimes we get carried away with crazy high power and make the car too crazy to drive all the time. I want to wear this thing out by driving it so much.
I went pretty old fashioned except for the electric fan. Engine powered fan is a huge waste of power. Lots of chrome gee gaws. I have been told they don't add any power, but I don't believe it.
It was very important to me that it be a manual transmission. This is a very wide ratio Saginaw 4 speed I had rebuilt. I ended up having to change the tail shaft and shift to fit the G body set up. No need to tell me Saginaws are weak transmissions, not suited for performance set ups. I am well aware of this. I am only making about 250hp and the Saginaw will handle that just fine.
The Monte was taken by a couple of guys from Advanced Auto. They seemed glad to take it. I wish them luck.
This isn't the best picture, but, you get the point.
It took about six months of work, but, here it is. I have been driving it everywhere and I love it. I play the oldies station with the windows down and pretend I'm 19 again. Thank you very much to my wife and family who encouraged me, and my friend Scott who contributed his time and talent.