77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

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77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Psychlonic on Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:07 am

Realizing there is a slight yet significant difference in the rear ends of these two cars, I'm wondering how possible this idea is. The most important difference seems to be that the 77 does not turn back in on itself at the taillights and there is a separate material tacked onto the end as opposed to the one-piece 73 rear. Looking at everything else, I would assume that the 73 trunk lid would bolt directly to the 77 and with the correct taillights, latch down with a correct fit.

My biggest concerns here are the bumper and the gas tank. Is it even possible to mount the 73's bumper to the 77 frame without fabricating custom mounts? Also, the gas tank's filler pipe is probably also lower on the 73, right?

I know this probably sounds weird and the obvious response is "just buy a 73 body", but I've got my reasons for wanting to modify the 77 instead.

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by bigredlaguna on Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:29 am

You will basically need to get the panel that the taillights bolt to from a 73 and swap those out. An experienced body tech should be able to do that.

The quarter panels will need to be reshaped to fit the taillights.

73 gas tank.

Bumper should mount up as a r&r swap, unless the shocks are different as they are for the front.

Trunk lid


Last edited by bigredlaguna on Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by 74MonteCarlo on Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:08 am

73 does NOT have bumper shocks in the back.

The fuel filler for 73 is behind the license plate in the bumper.

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Psychlonic on Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:39 pm

I'm half wondering since that's the case if I just need to make sure I have all the hardware off the 73 to do that then, similar to the front end. I saw a guy who put a 73 Laguna front onto his 77 so hopefully the procedure isn't terribly different, body panel modification aside.

I'll call around Monday to see if any of the local wrecking yards have a 73 laying around so I can take it apart and have a look. I'm also concerned that the trunk itself has a different shape in the back that would disallow using the 73 trunk lid without raising the metal on both sides of the latch, since their lids have raised curves where my 77's does not. I mean, I bet it would latch down fine but it wouldn't seal very well and wouldn't be terribly stable with gaps there... if that makes sense.

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Laguna Budman on Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:11 pm

I have a 73 and a 77 sitting right beside each other if you want me to do some looking. I think it's gonna be alot of work though. We've done a 77 to 74 tailpanel swap that was pretty simple but I think there is alot more goin on on the 73. I'll look today.
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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Psychlonic on Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:04 pm

If it's not too much trouble, definitely! I'm especially interested in a side-by-side comparison of both trunks with the lids open. Matter of fact, I'm going to go take a look at mine right now to see if the seal relies on the tail panel or if it goes before that. If it's the latter, I might be S.O.L.

Edit: Apparently, the seal in the back already has that same curvature in it. It could very well be that the 73 lid would bolt right on and seal up perfectly with the proper tail panel, zero modification to the trunk necessary. If so... cheers

So then it's look like:
Get 73 bumper with proper mounts.
Get 73 tail panel.
Get 73 gas tank.
Fold back and smooth that rear body panel so it follows the same angle as the 73 tail panel (pain in A$$) and probably grind out some curves for the panel to fit properly into. There's some serious cancer in that general area anyways, so I won't be making anymore work for myself than I had originally anyways.
Mess everything together.

Rolling Eyes And knowing all of this, I'm still stubborn enough to want to do it. Head Bang

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Laguna Budman on Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:44 am

Well I hope your really stubborn. I looked as close as I could today and it looks like alot of work. My intent was to take some good pics but nature welded some of my body parts to the ground behind my 73 and I couldn't move em for pics. It is supposed to warm up a little this week so if I can move them I will take some close up pics and post them for you.
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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by alleyball4 on Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:03 am

what state are you in Psychlonic? I might be able to help you locate a 73 near you that you go look at, for measurements or whatever.

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Psychlonic on Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:59 am

Oregon, Eastern side, middle of nowhere. There's actually a 73 Laguna in my same town and I know the owner, but even in it's rough shape I doubt the guy is going to let me take it apart to look at the bumper mounts. :p

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by The Dude on Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:53 am

Limey where were you on this one? Anyways, this topic has been discussed a couple of times in the body section. General consensus is that you would need to basically cut the entire trunk section from each car. Front end swap is different because the fenders stayed the same from 73 - 77 with only the "face" of the Chevelle changing. Heck even BOP front ends will bolt up as we have seen in the past with Cutlass Caminos & such. If you feel confident in welding & bodywork, then you could try it, but seriously it would be easier to swap a 77 front onto a 73. What is your reason for wanting a 77 model if I may ask?

Links to the other threads are here BTW:
http://www.g3gm.com/t515-74-tail-panel-will-not-work-on-76-laguna
http://www.g3gm.com/t3302-i-can-t-just-convert
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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Limey SE on Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:12 pm

Ok here I am I WILL STATE REASONS WHY I NEVER WANTED NOT TO DO THIS

You will not be able to shape the rear 1/4s to factory specs to look right, so you will at the least from the wheel well back from a donar 73 car.

second you will the WHOLE trunk lid area (where the trunk lid sits) for the 73 is one year only trunk lid shape

third you will need the 73 donar trunk lid

forth you will need the the 73 donar frame rail to allow the 73 bumper to be mounted ( then find the donar bumper )

fifth the 73 Gas tank (hopefully by this time you still have the Donar car)

sixth now if you haven't cussed yourself out by this time you will be needing the Complete 73 Tail panel which in good shape is not easy to find, and hopefully if you got all your specs right for the 1/4 swap everything lines up

now theres more I can put here, but Just Knowing you will have to remove all spot welds for the top of the trunk area to be able to accept just the 73 trunk lid that would have done it for me, then have precise measurements for to shape the 1/4 panels to be able accept the tail panel .............


O yea since you are taking the trunk lid area dont forget the package tray area as well ..................

To make this long process shorter in explaining it ....... you will have to get a donar 73 take a sawzall from right behind where the door shuts from top to bottom for that's all the parts you will need and then Hope and pray and cuss some more and by the time your done .......would have been easier to switch the front clip to a 73 Car

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Limey SE on Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:21 pm

Rago wrote:Limey where were you on this one?
I was prepping the new to me 1971 350 olds block ( w/ 1972 7A heads ) that I traded a trunk lid for all weekend she is now on the stand and started the teardown and woke up to a mini blizzard with winds of up to 35 MPH and 4.5" to 7" of snow forcasted and still snowing hard as I type this Head Bang Evil or Very Mad

lol! Clapp ===>>> so freaking tired of this crap I want to move south NOW



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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by The Dude on Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:01 pm

Good enough excuse for me. The heads alone are worth what you traded. Very Happy

My excuse was that I was enjoying near 70 degree weather while crawling underneath my car trying to button up some loose ends. She sits a little high now, but should be a tight ride. Drag set up finished. Beer
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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Psychlonic on Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:55 am

The metal fab doesn't intimidate me so much, it's just a matter of what's worth the time doing for me. From the sounds of things, it still seems quite doable (I don't pretend it will be fun and/or easy), the biggest key apparently being the shaping of the rear to match that of the 73. After finding some clear pics of a 77 with everything stripped off, it wouldn't seem too difficult to just cut off the 73 support panel behind the lights, then tack and seam it to the 77.

Rago, while all of this does seem like a lot of work, I just have to wonder how much trouble it would be to try to switch bodies completely. I prefer the 77's opera window to the larger 73 and to try to convert would require covering the excess area with sheet metal, smoothing, and making sure the inside has the proper support for the windows to go into and appropriate interior trim for that style of window. Then I have to either lift both bodies off their frames and swap, or swap drive train and suspension components 1-by-1 since the 77 already has a lot of work put into it. Even getting a 74 Laguna, which seems to already have that same window and replacing the rear should be a bolt on job (correct?), I'd still have to consume a lot of time swapping the motor, tranny, driveshaft, rear end, sway bars, etc. over to the 74. Looks like the gas tank would need to be swapped over to the 73's anyways, too.

It just seems like with all the time I would spend doing all of that stuff and the money for a completely new body which might need lots of restoration... I could have went through the rear fab work and would be done with it already. I'm obviously open to suggestions if I'm missing something, though.

On the other hand, if I could find a decent 74 Laguna I might consider that... that would allow me to just keep the 77 as-is and drive it around while tearing into the 74 until I was ready to swap stuff over. Hmm... Neutral I have a pretty firm vision of what I'm wanting out of this now, but christ o' mighty, GM put all the parts I want on different cars!

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by The Dude on Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:30 am

I understand that. Try finding a 76-77 base model. I looked for nearly a decade after losing my first one & finally found another. The base models still had large quarter windows & single headlights.

If you are just wanting the opera windows, have someone with a 74 show you how they look from the inside. Since that was the first year for the opera windows, they did some odd stuff from what I'm told. The glass was still full size, but they just added metal on the outside if I'm not mistaken.
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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Limey SE on Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:17 pm

Rago wrote:If you are just wanting the opera windows, have someone with a 74 show you how they look from the inside. Since that was the first year for the opera windows, they did some odd stuff from what I'm told. The glass was still full size, but they just added metal on the outside if I'm not mistaken.


This is so true rago and I still have the inner rear plastics to show that all they did is used the triangle shaped plastics and put a padded board the same color as interior of car in between the triangle to make it opera sized on inside..... Remember maligoon thats how them windows were full triangle glass covered into opera sized out side



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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Psychlonic on Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:46 pm

Thanks for the pics, Limey. That's... an odd approach by GM. lol

Here's a low-res (so my edits aren't so painful!) mock-up of the direction I'm wanting to take this and yes, I sold my soul to the 73 front end over the 77 stacked headlights!



There doesn't appear to be an easily solution to get the three main pieces that really make the look - the 73 Laguna nose ,the 73 Chevelle rear, and the smaller opera window - all on the same car. Sad

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by 1973 454 MONTE on Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:02 pm

looks cool
but those wheels look like the baldwin motion wheels Thumbs up
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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Psychlonic on Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:45 pm

They might have been cropped off an image of one, yes. Cool Ditto with the pipes. Probably impossible to find that style of wheel elsewhere though, eh? 10" slotted mags seem to be the closest thing.
It's got a little bit of Baldwin style 73 in there, some 73 Laguna, a pinch of 77 Chevelle SE and a hood I think compliments it all well.

I should also clarify that I do not own either vehicle in the image. The large one is a 77 with a 73 nose found here:
http://rides.popularhotrodding.com/ride/1185655/malibu406/1977/chevrolet/malibu/index.html

And the smaller image was found here:
http://image.hotrod.com/f/evel1957/9496325+w450+h338+cr0+re1+ar1/1973-chevrolet-chevelle-at-shell-taken-2007.jpg

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Limey SE on Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:48 pm

So your Basically looking for this ?? but with a 73 Laguna Nose and rear spoiler from a 75 -81 camaro??



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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by 1973 454 MONTE on Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:14 pm

i had a set of 15x8.5 Ansen Sprints,but sold them cause i changed my mind about putting them on my monte.

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Psychlonic on Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:54 pm

Limey, exactly - that's all I'm asking for. Doc Larry linked me to a picture of his spoiler build so I've got an idea as to how I'm going to do that, but am I missing something obvious that would make myself not have to reinvent the wheel as far as the normal body parts go?

I wouldn't mind recreating the 77 window size with sheet metal as shown in that picture, but I would want it to be able to actually use the 77 glass as well. Something about the thought of having glass hiding underneath the body steel just doesn't sit right with me. If there is an easy way to mount 77 glass to the 73 body, I could use the 77 interior trim to make it look a little more normal.

I feel like to achieve this, I either have to fabricate parts for a 73 to take a 77 window, or I have to fabricate parts for a 77 to take a 73 rear end. I'm really liking this look and I don't want to compromise unless absolutely necessary. I've tossed the idea of using 73 Camaro tail lights on a custom 77 tail panel, sort of similar to what Doc Larry did, but I don't think that looks nearly as good as the stock 73 rear end.

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by The Dude on Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:35 am

If the way that they did it in 74 doesn't feel safe to you & chopping two cars in half to make one is a little too much for any sane man, then you are left with one solution. Chop the top from a 74-77 Classic & put it onto a 73 car. Note that it has to be a Classic model if you want those Opera windows. Cutting up a Laguna is just sacrilege & Base models came with large quarter windows all the way through 1977. Then again, base models also got lucky enough to have round headlights through 77 as well. No four eyes on mine. Razz

Chris, why am I not surprised to see that you had a real set of Ansen Sprints? You truly are either blessed, lucky, or spoiled to have such a collection of parts.
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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by 74MonteCarlo on Wed Jan 19, 2011 10:38 am

My dad had real Ansens on the '71 Malibu he had. Got a picture of it with them. But I'm too lazy to dig it out.

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

Post by Psychlonic on Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:23 am

I might see about making a 77 window just work on a 73 body if I can find one to take a close look at/buy at a decent price. The way I see it, the existing window mounting hardware would likely remain in place and I'd just be adding sheet metal to the body, so if someone ever wanted to come along in 80 years or whatever and redo everything to be all original, they could just chop it back off and it wouldn't be terribly hard to restore. Tearing into the 77, on the other hand, would be virtually non-reverseable and require just as complicated fab work to turn back into a 77 rear end. And I'd feel pretty bad about cutting off a top entirely and ruining the donor car completely just for a damn window style.

I MAY have a decent 73 Laguna I can buy for $500-1000 with very little rust, and again before there's panic, reversal will be completely possible for anyone wanting to go 100% Laguna again. All I would need to do as far as body work goes would be the window and get the Chevelle chrome bumper. If I'm happy with how it turns out, I can maybe even toss the Laguna's stock 350 into the 77 and sell that to someone while just keeping the Laguna. It would be sweet to keep both cars but... well, we'll see what prevails: logic or the coolness of having two decent G3s. Very Happy

We'll see, guys. Thanks for the replies.

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Re: 77 to 73 Malibu Trunk/Taillight/Rear Bumper Swap

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