'74 Chevrolet Malibu Classic STW

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Post by StockEliminator on Tue Jul 23, 2019 4:02 pm

We have been operating our Stock Eliminator Drag Race team together with my dad, racing with our '74 Malibu Classic 2D Coupe. Now I bought myself this '74 Malibu Classic STW that I found with a reasonable price a bit less than 100 Miles away from my home. Originally sold new in Finland and used as a Hearse for a couple of decades before "retirement" and moving to regular traffic. Here in Finland, several US made Wagons were used as Hearses back in the day. Just throw out the backseat and install everything needed to carry the coffin inside.

The good thing with these old Hearses is that they have often pretty low mileage, which means they usually are in better condition than the regular Wagons that were sold to private use. Finnish winters are rough and a lot of road salt is used, so often these are really rusty. The mileage on my Wagon is only around 60,300 Miles. It has a few rust spots, mainly in rear fenders, but that's not a problem - that's what the welding machine is made for!

It has 350 SBC with Rochester 2 bbl carburetor. Not a race car, but I think it'll do just fine as a daily driver. Luckily the engine is really close to stock, with most of the smog-equipment still in use (and functioning). It runs very nicely so I'm not planning on doing anything else but regular maintenance for it.

Interior is in really good condition. Dash is completely stock. Dash pad is not cracked, there are no extra holes drilled for anything, there is even no radio installed. I will have to install one so that I can listen to Rockabilly music while driving, but I don't want to destroy the dash either, so the radio will be installed under the dash...

What has to be done then? Well, here are the most critical things that need attention.
-Exhaust pipes. The car has now literally straight exhaust pipes and no mufflers. Loud is fine, but 145 hp small block doesn't sound very good with no mufflers... Laughing
-Lights. Headlights, high beams and tail lights, reverse lights and brake lights work fine, but turn signals and parking lights barely light up. I'm guessing it's a ground issue, so I need to check the wiring. After these two, I think I might be able to pass the mandatory tech inspection to make it legal to drive.
-Rust repairs. Rear fenders need some attention and there are some other smaller rust spots as well. Those will need to be fixed before winter, so they don't get worse.
-New wheels and tires. I want to go with 15" steel wheels, Dog Dish hubcaps and tires with narrow whitewalls.
-General maintenance, oil changes, new spark plugs, wires, distributor cap etc etc. Also lots of cleanup here and there, washing, waxing etc.

And as usual when driving an old car every day, everything will come up when you least expect it. So this "project" will keep going as long as I have the car. Hopefully some of you find it interesting and understand my English which is not my native language.

Here are a few pics of the car that I took when I picked it up. The drive to home went really smoothly. It's a pleasure to drive for sure.

'74 Chevrolet Malibu Classic STW  P7224793
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Post by thatfnthing on Tue Jul 23, 2019 5:35 pm

That's a really nice project, and it looks to be in far better shape than I would have expected for a car that saw winter use for all those years.

I wonder why they would just do straight pipes with no mufflers, though?  That would be a bit distracting at a funeral service, I would think...
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Post by Limey SE on Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:52 pm

nice project you have Welcome aboard
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Post by StockEliminator on Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:37 pm

Thanks for interest, Guys!

thatfnthing wrote:That's a really nice project, and it looks to be in far better shape than I would have expected for a car that saw winter use for all those years.

I wonder why they would just do straight pipes with no mufflers, though?  That would be a bit distracting at a funeral service, I would think...

There is some rust on the chassis and wheel wells, but otherwise it's definitely better than what these usually are. The pretty low mileage helps a lot, and usually the Funeral Service companies took a really good care of their vehicles, too.

The straight pipes were done by one of the past owners after the car retired from the funeral service. Personally I don't understand why someone built only straight pipes with no mufflers, with a few hours of extra work he would have done a proper exhaust system to the car.


At the moment I've started working on it, and I've done several smaller things on it. Also, driver's side exhaust pipe is done. But more on that when I get the passenger side pipe done as well, so stay tuned...
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Post by g3chevy on Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:49 am

Love these old station wagons. Great to see the interest in these A bodies over in Europe. Welcome to the forum!
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Post by 76 Malibu on Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:01 pm

Very cool wagon and looks like a great project car. From the pics it looks to be a really solid survivor.
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Post by StockEliminator on Fri Jul 26, 2019 10:27 am

Thanks Guys, the car is in a decent shape. Definitely not perfect, but better than the average when talking about these 3rd Gen GM A-Bodies that are over here in this country.

I've done a bit of work to the car. Nothing special, I changed engine oil and filter, new air filter, changed the rock hard and leaking valve cover gaskets and cleaned up the engine bay a little. I also started figuring out what's wrong with turn signals and parking lights as they barely light up. The contact areas where the bulbs are mounted are good to go and correct amount of power comes in there. Maybe it's a ground issue.

I finished the exhaust pipes as well. They were pretty easy to do, I re-used the old straight pipes for the most part, but had to do a couple of bends on them to clear the transmission crossmember properly. I also made proper hangers and added one Dynomax muffler on each side. Now the exhaust ends right before the rear axle which should be pretty good. At least the sound is exactly what I wanted - not too loud but not too quiet either, everyone can hear that it has a V8 under the hood, but the neighbors don't get mad...

'74 Chevrolet Malibu Classic STW  P7264807

It's a shame there's no more time to work on this thing during the day. As I am at work from 8AM to 4PM, there's not much time to work on it in the evening. Anyway, I'm going to go to the tech inspection on Tuesday. I might not pass right away, but when it's on Tuesday, I have still a couple of days to fix it before a local Cruise Night on Friday and a big American Car PickNick event on Sunday which is close to where I bought this thing from, and I promised the seller that the car will be there. Laughing
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Post by thatfnthing on Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:29 am

StockEliminator wrote:I also started figuring out what's wrong with turn signals and parking lights as they barely light up. The contact areas where the bulbs are mounted are good to go and correct amount of power comes in there. Maybe it's a ground issue.

It's almost always a ground issue, and our cars suffer from them a lot. Find every place a wire hits the sheet metal (there will be a lot of them), disconnect it, hit everything with sandpaper until you see bare metal, then put it back. If I recall correctly, the headlight/turn signals ground to the radiator brace near each light.
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Post by StockEliminator on Sun Jul 28, 2019 3:01 pm

Thanks, you're correct, it was a ground issue. I checked all wires and connections and cleaned up the ground mounting points, but that didn't fix the problem. With new ground wires mounted directly to the light bulb the parking lights started working. So the plastic part where the bulb and wires connect, seems to be broken. Can't find a source for them right now, but when I do, I can undo my "repair" and return the wirings back to normal.

Today I also changed sway bar bushings and welded a couple of rust spots as well. They were the most critical ones, I still have some more rust to deal with, but I think I'll do them after the tech inspection.
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Post by StockEliminator on Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:57 pm

Today we worked with the tires and wheels together with my friend who has the machines. I took the steel wheels and hubcaps from my 1st Gen Chevy S10 which is my current daily driver (but which will be sold once the Malibu passes tech inspection). Tires are old 235/75/15 whitewalls from my friend's garage that I traded for a couple of beer cases.

The S10 got wheels from the Malibu, with the same tires it had before.

I also added new windshield washer system. It's not original, but it's all I could find at this time frame. I also added some grease to all front suspension bushings / ball joints and did a little cleanup to the interior and changed the headlight assemblies. Tomorrow it's time for tech inspection. I don't believe that it's going to pass right away, but hopefully I don't get huge amount of things I need to fix...

It sure looks better with the new tires and wheels.
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Post by thatfnthing on Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:12 pm

Best of luck with the inspection!
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Post by StockEliminator on Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:07 pm

Thanks! The tech inspection went really well. I thought there will be some things that are not going to pass, but surprisingly the car passed easily. The inspector found nothing wrong with it so now it's legal to drive.

I've driven a few hundred miles with it and everything seems to work really well. Today with my good friend we washed and waxed the car. Sure was a big improvement:

'74 Chevrolet Malibu Classic STW  P8015053
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Post by crice63 on Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:57 am

Im running the same hubcaps on my 85 S-10, which is really a GMC S-15 so a little cognitive dissonance for anyone who notices. '74 Chevrolet Malibu Classic STW  Fa314f10

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Post by g3chevy on Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:40 pm

That is a clean little S-15 you have. That's 5 times the vehicle of my S-3 LOL. I was tempted in trying to talking you into doing a trade for my Astro van last time you visited. Did you ever get your tilt column installed?
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Post by crice63 on Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:49 pm

LOL. It's clean in a good picture, but I still love that little truck for some reason. Haven't done the tilt column yet. Things ground to a halt here due to family illnesses pretty much this whole year so far. I haven't been able to get over to Houston at all, and it's only 3 hours. But you never know when a window will open up.

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Post by g3chevy on Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:03 pm

Family definitely comes first over our hobby. Hope everyone is healing so you can get back to normal things soon. Love for you to come visit when things settle down on your side.
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Post by StockEliminator on Thu Aug 15, 2019 4:23 pm

That's a great looking S15! Those Pickups are neat to drive as well. I had this S10 as my daily driver for over four years. Very reliable car that was a pleasure to drive. Unfortunately now as I have this Malibu Wagon, I'll need to sell the S10. But all good things must come to an end I guess.

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The Malibu has been working very well. There has been zero problems at all, and I've driven around 1600 Miles with it since I passed the tech inspection. I've visited in several Cruising Nights, and it seems that surprisingly many people come to check out this old Hearse a little closer. Well, I have to admit that these are pretty rare nowadays - most of them have rusted away...

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