Engines for the 1976-1977 Chevrolet Chevelle included a new 140-horsepower 305-cubic-inch V-8, two- and four-barrel 350s (with availability still depending on California delivery), and the 400-cubic-inch V-8, still good for 175 horses. A three-speed manual transmission was standard with the carryover six, but all V-8s came with the turbo Hydra-matic autobox.
Malibu Classics were gussied up in 1976 with their
own grille texture and stacked rectangular headlights.
The American bicentennial year was the last year for the Type S-3, which was little changed from 1975. NASCAR racers were discovering the slant-front Type S-3 had appreciable aerodynamic benefits and the car enjoyed some favor in the Chevrolet stock-car racing fraternity for several years.
Benny Parsons's badly wrecked Malibu limped home in 28th place in the last race of the 1973 season, but it was enough to help the tenacious underdog lock up the NASCAR crown. A combination of Chevelles and Monte Carlos won a dozen races in 1974; six in 1975; 13 in 1976; and a whopping 21 in 1977 (when Cale Yarborough won a second consecutive season points title while driving Chevrolets).
The Malibu Classic line stepped out with its own frontal appearance that featured rectangular stacked quad headlamps and a "chain-link" grille texture. Malibus retained dual round headlights and a simpler grille surface.
Chevelle demand rebounded to more than 333,000 cars for model-year 1976 and its popularity was almost as strong the following year. The 1977 Chevelles were little changed, except that the Type S-3, the Estate wagon, and the 400-cubic-inch V-8 were gone. The taillamp treatment was once again changed, with new segmented lenses in place of the less fussy 1976 design.
The 1976 Malibu Classic coupe started at $9,926
with a six and $4,455 with a V-8.
The 1977s were, however, historic vehicles in a most ironic sense. They shared Chevrolet showrooms with new full-size Impala and Caprice models, which had shed about 700 pounds. These newly svelte 116-inch-wheelbase Chevrolets were nearly the same size as their Chevelle stablemates and they looked much leaner.
Come 1978, it was the mid-size line's turn to be downsized. The Chevelle nameplate was dropped and the popular Malibu name was applied to the new 108.1-inch-wheelbase car that resulted.
Little changed in basic design during the five years they were built, the 1973-1977 Chevelles accounted for nearly 1.7 million sales in one of the most unsettling periods the automotive industry ever faced.
Surprisingly large and comfortable, surviving Chevelles of this era bring back great memories of how enjoyable a V-8-powered, rear-drive 1970s GM car could be. That is, if you can find a nice one. Pristine examples of the 28,647 1973 SS Chevelles or the approximately 38,000 Laguna Type S-3s built during 1974-1976, are difficult to find, which is a shame. Now that fuel is plentiful, and the 55-mph national speed limit has been consigned to history, this may be the best time ever to own one.
See the next page for models, prices, and production numbers for the 1973-1977 Chevrolet Chevelle.
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