The 1981 Chevrolet Malibu, including this four-door sedan,
received a squared roofline with a semi-formal rear window.
The 1981 Chevrolet Malibu received what amounted to a "radical" styling update for a car that had changed little since its 1978 introduction: Sedans adopted a rear roofline more formal than that of their Buick and Olds siblings. Other changes were more subtle.
The 1981 Chevrolet Malibu engines mostly continued from 1980 but now wore GM's Computer Command Control (CCC) emission system. The base 229-cubic-inch V-6 made 110 horsepower (down from 115), as did the California-only 231-cubic-inch Buick V-6.
The 305-cubic-inch V-8, now with 150 horsepower, was relegated to station-wagon duty, so the sole optional engine on sedans and coupes was the 267-cubic-inch V-8 with 115 horsepower. The three-speed automatic added a lock-up torque converter to aid highway mileage.
As before, the bulk of sales consisted of sedans, with ritzier Classic versions being somewhat more popular than the base models. Station wagons and coupes were likewise more popular in dressier trim.
And despite a substantial across-the-board price increase (the most popular model, the Classic sedan, was up more than $1,000, to $6,961), sales dropped only slightly to a total of just under 242,500.
The 1981 Chevrolet Malibu series included this Sport Sedan model.
The wire wheels shown here were a $135 option.
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