Courtesy of Mecum Auctions
  • One of 4,048 Malibu L79s built for 1967
  • Concours rotisserie restoration with photos
  • Rebuilt correct L79 drivetrain and components
  • 327/325-hp high-performance engine with EP suffix
  • Muncie M20 4-speed transmission
  • Twelve-bolt 3.31:1 Positraction axle
  • Radio delete
  • Documented with L79 Registry certificate

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1967 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu L79
Years Produced:1964–67 (first-gen)
Number Produced:4,048
Original List Price:$2,540
SCM Valuation:$49,500
Tune Up Cost:$250
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side A-pillar
Engine Number Location:Right front cylinder-head deck
Alternatives:1966–67 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396, 1966–67 Chevrolet Nova SS L79, 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot F134, sold for $59,400, including buyer’s premium, at the Mecum Glendale auction in Glendale, AZ, on March 13, 2020.

Today, there are likely few Chevy Malibus in Malibu, as that territory was long ago ceded to Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. But back in 1967, LA’s storied beach community was decidedly an American-car kind of place. It’s true — I was there.

Malibu was a rural, serpentine strip wedged between the cool blue Pacific and California’s steep coastal mountains, and residents and tourists alike depended upon the Pacific Coast Highway to travel through the area. It was a perfect place for Chevrolet’s Malibu at the time, available in coupe, convertible, sedan and wagon formats. Whatever you needed, there was a Malibu for the job — including a sleeper street car that punched above its weight class.

Mind you, mid-’60s Chevrolets were largely — apart from the Corvette — unexceptional in the design department. This was especially true of non-SS models. They were admittedly clean and tidy, but something like this would have blended in with the world around it. To some buyers, that’s the point.

SS badges or not, though, this is a muscle car, hence the nice addition of Redline tires and Torq Thrust wheels. The Granada Gold paint code still looks good in 2020, especially with the contrasting black vinyl roof covering.

L79 lore

Available widely across the Chevrolet range (meaning in the Chevelle, Corvette, El Camino and Malibu) from 1965 to ’68, the L79 engine code was a good one for street bandits who did not want a big-block car like the SS 396. But it was still a special engine, featuring a short 3.25-inch stroke to go with its oversize four-inch bore, which in turn allowed the fitment of relatively large valves.

Naturally, a performance camshaft was included — the first of its type for Chevrolet in combining performance cam profiles with hydraulic lifters to make ownership easier. Earlier high-revving small-block engines used solid-lifter cams, which needed periodic adjustment. The hydraulic setup was much more forgiving over time. These parts, along with forged 11:1 pistons and a 4-barrel carb, helped the motor produce 325 hp at close to 6,000 rpm — a big bump over the 195 hp delivered by the ’67 Malibu’s standard 283-ci V8, and another jump above the 275-hp 327 that was also available. It was a great street or race motor that packed a punch — more than most of the Saturday-night competition would be expecting from those little “327” numbers on the fender.

Across the Chevrolet range, a reported 49,034 L79 engines were produced — not a large number considering the millions of vehicles produced by the division during that motor’s four-year run. Corvette production gobbled up a reported 28,122 (or 57%) of these engines, making their fitment to the other Chevys like this Malibu fairly rare.

In this case, though, “rare” isn’t just a handful of cars — records show 4,048 Malibus were equipped with this top-dog 327 for 1967, the first year of its availability in this model.

Behind the engine — which incidentally was not claimed to be original but rather “correct” for the car — lives a general-issue, wide-ratio Muncie M20 4-speed gearbox and a 12-bolt, 3.31:1 Positraction axle. Although a bit tall for the dragstrip, this final-drive ratio would have walked a decent line between bright acceleration and highway usability. But while this thing was quick, James Taylor and Dennis Wilson would’ve still shut you down in their ’55 Chevy 2-door sedan from “Two-Lane Blacktop.”

Bling and bland

This Malibu’s engine bay is ultra-sanitary, but the matte-black inner fenders and firewall appear slightly flat compared to a new brighter-than-bright engine build. However, in general, it all looks right and was clearly done to a very high level.

Otherwise, the only discrepancy underhood is the modern battery, which is less than a foot from a carefully applied replica grease-pencil marking. Such missteps are easy to rectify, though, and on the whole, this car appears to have been essentially undriven since its recent restoration. Whether that’s a plus really depends on if the car had been sorted out properly since restoration, but that’s impossible to tell until the new owner takes it out for a spin.

Basic bench

Bucket seats were more an oddity than the norm in American cars in 1967, making the front bench seat in this Malibu not unexpected. It is likewise newly upholstered — and the rest of the interior is also retrimmed — although the bench-seat base looks overstuffed, and the seatback vinyl is a little lumpy in places.

Positives abound, though, including a nice new white cue-ball shift knob and the heroic Muncie chromed reverse-lockout handle. And another plus, the “blinker” tachometer mounted at the left side of the instrument panel. Mounted over the turn-signal indicator below the fuel gauge, it solved this visual dilemma by integrating its own left-hand turn-signal indicator. Rare and cool.

So let’s review: Chevrolet is the brand, Chevelle is the model, Malibu is the trim, Sport Coupe is the 2-door hard-top body style, and L79 is the high-performance 327 V8. Unless you wanted the massive performance of the SS 396, this Malibu was the sweetest non-Corvette coupe available from Chevrolet in the day.

This one is a nice-enough car, and one of only several thousand built — so it’s significantly more rare than the SS 396, which is currently valued by ACC at a $42,000 median value.

Considering the work done here, and the overall look, this wasn’t overpriced for what it was: a great example of Chevrolet’s small-block sleeper Malibu, from the era when big-blocks and Super Sports got all the attention.

(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.)

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