The Malibu was introduced in 1964 as the top-of-the-line edition of the mid-size Chevrolet Chevelle. These luxury cars were distinguished from the base model Chevelles by their posh interiors with patterned fabric and vinyl on the seats, thick carpet on the floors, and a fancy steering wheel for the driver.
For those who wanted both comfort and speed, the Chevelle Malibu could be purchased with Chevy’s esteemed SS (Super Sport) performance package. In 1966, this option was upgraded to a 396 cid V-8 engine for the Malibu SS396. This muscle-car version of the Malibu was also available as a convertible with bucket seats.
In 1967, Chevy introduced the iconic Chevelle Malibu Concours station wagon with classic fake-wood paneling on the exterior and an 8-track player inside. All Chevelles were given an overhaul in 1968 (that design featured a longer front and shorter end) and again in 1973, when the car was made boxier and sturdier to meet new safety regulations. For this third generation, the base line was called Chevelle Deluxe, the mid-range was named Malibu, and the high-end was referred to as Laguna.
Since Malibu turned out to be the best-seller of the three, the Chevelle name was ditched starting with model year 1978, and the new line of cars was known as Chevy Malibus, with the high-end imprint being the Malibu Classic. These new Malibus were more than a foot shorter, 500-100 pounds lighter, and remarkably more efficient than their predecessors.
Rear-wheel-drive Malibus went out of production in 1983, but the name returned in 1997 on a mid-size front-wheel drive car. For 2009, Malibus were also offered as hybrids.