The 1978 Malibu Classic featured a brand new wheelbase chassis compared to older generations of Chevrolet Malibu. Also, despite being lighter and shorter, it provided extra leg room and luggage space.
A smaller replacement for the Chevelle, the Malibu earned its full-fledged model status after years of out-selling every other car in the Chevelle lineup. With a choice of body styles that ranged from coupe to four-door-salon and station wagon, the Malibu Classic was a slimmed-down answer to its predecessors - as General Motors attempted to downsize its range of mid-size cars.
The rear-wheel-drive 1978 Malibu Classic's base engine was a 3.3-liter V-6 developing 95 horsepower, with upgrades of 105 or 145 horsepower available for the salon and coupe versions and a 170-horsepower V-8 upgrade for the station wagon.
Sold for a base price of $4,204 at the time, the 1978 Malibu Classic featured a completely new 108.1-inch wheelbase chassis. The fourth generation of Chevrolet's Malibu series, it was over 500 pounds lighter and a foot shorter, and yet provided extra leg room and luggage space compared to previous models. Among the new features were a dual mode upper/lower interior ventilation system and a power-operated antenna that automatically extended or lowered, depending on whether the ignition was on or off.
With 358,636 models built, the Malibu Classic was not only a popular model with the public, but one often used in law enforcement as a replacement for the Chevrolet Nova.