1980 CHEVROLET Malibu Classic- Elinor Print
Written by Double Dragon
Friday, 30 September 2011 19:32

1980 CHEVROLET Malibu Classic- Elinor


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown


This sad story stirs up some questions regarding recycling. What is actually better for the environment in the long run?


Traditional scrap yards provide parts to keep old vehicles running longer and hence avoid the environmental side effects of manufacturing new cars with all the industrial waste this creates. New cars use more petroleum products and rare metals in the manufacturing process than older vehicles did. The creation of a new car probably exceeds the environmental damage that an old car that is rarely driven can create through its emissions.

The scrap- it philosophy intentionally destroys old cars completely in order to deprive owners of similar old cars from obtaining parts and hence quickens the demise of older cars. This is supposed to be a good thing because of the higher emissions old cars produce. The stimulation of new car buying is important to the government which is attempting to revive the economy.

In this particular story the destruction of a car is going to result in the former owner, Elinor receiving credits for membership in a car co-op so that she no longer owns a car at all. This means that she may drive less because it's less convenient, and that when she does drive, the car produces less emissions. However, in the last year of ownership she only drove about 500 miles. The main savings will be personal, in that she no longer has to pay car insurance on a yearly basis. Its' debatable if 500 miles of driving in an older car can create the same pollutants that the byproducts of building a new car create.

The 267 engine was getting about 13 MPG in the city according to Elinor. The EPA sticker rated the 2 barrel V8 267 at 17 MPG City and 24 MPG Hwy with the 3 speed automatic which is mainly related to the size and weight of the car since the larger 305 returned identical EPA MPG figures in this car. The revised EPA system downgraded this to 15/22. Using Elinors' low figure, the car was using about 38 gallons of gas per year.


This 1980 Malibu Classic began life in February of 1980 at the Oshawa, Ontario GM plant. It was shipped to Dueck which is a well known large dealership in Vancouver, BC. The metal plate attached to the left side of the trunk lid was a common sight in Vancouver back in the 1980s. See the story on this dealership which traces back to 1926 in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website.


The Malibu Classic is a continuation of a well regarded name in Chevrolet history. The Malibu first appeared as a trim level on the popular Chevelle series. In 1978 when the Chevelle was downsized, the name Chevelle was phased out in favor of Malibu. Two trim levels were offered; the Malibu and the upscale Malibu Classic. This set up was carried forward to 1980. The Classic has more trim. The Malibu retains the old school GM touch. Plush bench seats, column shift, ornate design cues, smooth cushiony ride, quiet, fairly large car despite a recent downsizing, rear wheel drive. It even has a hood ornament!


The first owner was a male who lived in the Vancouver Marpole area who had the car serviced by the same garage for the entire 17 years that he owned the car. When he was ready to sell, his mechanic contacted Elinor who was looking for basic reliable transportation. The first owner damaged the passenger side of the car. It was mildly touched up before Elinor got the car. Otherwise it was a complete untouched original car with about 120,000 miles on it (200,000 KM).

Elinor used the car to grocery shop and for the occasional jaunt to friends' places. Regular service kept things running fine without any major problems for 14 years, although this is partly attributable to the fact she only logged 14,000 miles in that time; an average of 1,000 miles per year. The clock stopped running and the parking brake release handle detached where the cable attaches, but other than that the car was trouble free. It starts first try even if it's been sitting for as long as two months.

The body is another story. The drivers' side was caved in on an underground parking cement pillar, leaving the rear view mirror skewed and trim and doors crunched.


A hit to the rear compressed the 5 MPH bumper flat with the body on the driver's side. Despite these incidents and some fading to paint on the hood the car is solid and rust free after being parked underground out of the rain for 14 of its years of life.


The interior suffered no rips or tears until the driver's seatbelt caught in the door and became a tad frayed. Some hard plastic on the inner door pull became scarred in the same way typically seen on the inner door panels of old Dodge Challengers. The chrome inset strip broke out of the channel in the steering wheel pad on the right side. The only major problem occurred when Elinor lent the car to a friend using her place while she was out of town. Instead of keeping the car underground as Elinor requested the friend left it out on the street for November and December continuously in two brutal months of constant rain. The relentless damp caused the headliner to detach and sag.   

The 267 teamed with a 3 speed automatic has adequate acceleration, more so than implied by the quoted 125 net HP. The engine runs smoothly as can be seen in the clarity of the image below which was a hand held shot with the engine idling. The 267 starts up easily, always passing Aircare. The car did fail the British Columbia Aircare inspection once because of a faulty gas cap.


The actual mileage of the car is open to debate. The only figures available are the yearly inspection mileages recorded with Aircare. The Aircare figures were recorded incorrectly. The white 'tenths' portion of the odometer was included in the figures each time. For instance the odometer reads 17,076.5 KM but was read as 170,765 KM. This pattern was sustained for the majority of the time so it's easy enough to break down the real numbers.


Based on the very first 1992 Aircare figures, the odometer had probably gone around the 100,000 KM mark twice prior to this, so we need to add 200,000 KM to the five digit number showing. Counting back from the most recent inspection gives us these numbers:

Dec 17, 2010= 169,000 which really reads 16,900 which is actually 216,900 KM
Jan 19, 2010= 167,000 which is really 216,700 KM
Jan 23, 2009= 160,000 which is really 216.000 KM
Dec 31, 2007= 160,000 which is really 216,000 KM
Jan 9, 2007= 115,000 (sequence was recorded correctly- second time round 215,000)
Jan 10, 2006= 145,000 which is really 214,500 KM
Dec 22, 2004= 113,000 (sequence was recorded correctly- second time round 213,000)
Jan 15, 2004= 125,000 which is really 212.500 KM
Jan 9, 2003= 137,000 which is likely 213,700 KM
Dec 31, 2001= 103,000 which is likely 210,300 KM
Dec 27, 2001= 102,000 which is likely 210,200 KM
Jan 10, 2001= 108,000 (sequence recorded correctly- second time round 208,000 KM)
Jan 7, 2000= 170,000 which is likely 207,000 KM
Dec 8, 1998= 95,000 - mistaken entry?
Jan 19, 1998= 101,000 KM probably 201,000 KM
Jan 8, 1998= 101, 000 KM is probably 201,000 KM
Oct 30, 1996= 95,000 KM likely 195,000 KM
Sep 27, 1995= 65,000 KM entry is probably an error
Oct 5, 1994= 77,000 KM likely 177,000 KM
Sep 15, 1993= 80,000 KM likely 180,000 KM
Dec 4, 1992= 158,000 KM is probably the correct mileage.

The final stop for the car left the odometer reading 17,126.0 which is 217,126 KM (134,618 miles). The license plates were stripped off and the car was driven to a waiting area. The CAT came and took it away.


The Malibu Classic is placed in a waiting pile. Once the car cools off from the drive down to the scrap it yard, fluids will be removed, battery and wheels stripped out. The car is crushed with no usable parts being saved.


The tires are shredded to separate out the steel belts so the rubber can be recycled. The car is crushed and then cut into strips where aluminum and steel can be separated. The owner of the yard was intrigued by my question about all the window glass which currently is not saved. He thought it may be possible to recycle the glass in future.

The OOCC Malibu Classic was probably going to keep running reliably for several more decades given the minimal use it was subject to. Now it is being melted down and has spurred the creation of a new vehicle.

There are extreme views available to summarize the total destruction of a useful item. Tibetan monks create intricate Mandalas and then destroy them to remind themselves of the impermanence of life and everything in our lives. They believe that attachment is the root cause of human suffering.

On the opposite end of the pole we have the car collector whose entire existence is all about attachment. Collectors are intrinsically opposed to erosion or change. The act of collecting is an attempt to stop the flow of time, which is ultimately futile. Can we acknowledge the inevitability of change but still cherish special memories or items? Do we really need to intentionally provoke change when it is coming at us all the time? 


Last Updated ( Thursday, 04 July 2013 22:22 )