This is one of those restoration stories that started out with a sad event but ended with a lot of happiness. A gentleman in Indiana named Ray  was the proud owner of a very original and well preserved 1972 Malibu.  At some point the engine went bad and he decided it would be a good time to do a frame off restoration.  Ray took the car apart. He started cleaning up the original parts and collecting new parts to install.  Then he passed away……  His family knew how important the Malibu was to him and there was no question that the car would be restored as part of his legacy.  The family members banded together and transported all the pieces down to his son Anthony’s home where they were stored in his garage.  That’s where we  stepped in.  Anthony, a local resident, contacted me about the project and we were thrilled to be a part of preserving  such an important car.


Chevy Chevelle Malibu chassis

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration

In the interest of shop space we had Anthony bring over specific parts as we needed them.  Here was the first load. The first step was to assemble the chassis.  This was fun work for us since most of the dirty work had already been done.  We were able to assemble cleaned, restored and new parts without the hours of rust and grease removal. The Malibu had factory disc brakes and a 2.73 open differential.  We did a rebuild on the rear end but left the stock gears.  The acceleration would be fine with the engine we had planned for the car.  That gear set would also make for nice highway cruising without having to upgrade to an over drive transmission.

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration

Brakes for the 1972 Chevy Malibu restoration

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration chassis








It didn’t take long before we had a rolling chassis.

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration

1972 Chevy Malibu chassis almost ready for the body

At this point we were ready for the body shell and engine.   We chose a 365 hp small block from Chevrolet Performance that came with all the front accessories.   We were all excited when the engine came in.  That is until we pulled the cardboard from around the crate.  This is NOT how you want your new crate engine to arrive……

Crate engine

The first crate motor did not survive in shipping


It appeared that the crate was dropped and barrel rolled during shipping.   Did the freight company think we wouldn’t notice ?  The engine had a lot of obvious damage so back it went.  While waiting for a replacement engine we moved ahead with the body shell.  Due to the way it was transported and stored in Anthony’s garage the only way to move it was with people power.  Anthony’s buddies were able to man-handle it onto a flat-bed trailer and haul it to our shop.  With no room for a fork lift we had to get creative to get it off the trailer.

1972 Chevy Malibu body shell arrives on a flat bed trailer

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration

How the heck are we going to get this thing off the trailer ?








The crew finally got it safely on some dollies and then the process was straight forward.

1972 Chevy Malibu body waiting for the chassis-notice green interior


We had the body and chassis bolted together with new mounts a short time later.

1972 Chevy Malibu body is mounted to the chassis

Thanks to the excellent customer service at Summit Racing we had our replacement engine in a just a few days.  Summit made things so easy for everyone and handled all interaction with the freight company.  This is how a crate engine is supposed to look when it arrives.

Crate engine as shipped

Crate motor from Summit Racing

We had Jimmy’s Transmission Service rebuild the original Turbo 350 along with some minor upgrades. After that we mated the engine and transmission and dropped it in the car.

Summit Racing crate engine

Crate motor and transmission installation

The crate motor package we bought came complete with a nice carburetor.  The owner wanted fuel injection so we replaced the carb with a Fitech EFI unit.  We also replaced the stock fuel tank with an EFI version that had the pump inside the tank.  Here’s the engine all dressed up.

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration crate motor

Crate motor with accessories and Fitech EFI added


The Malibu was a factory air car but it was decided to go with a Vintage Air direct fit  kit rather than  go through all the time and expense of restoring the original system.  We also replaced all the factory wiring with an American Auto Wire kit designed for the Malibu. We gutted the body shell which gave us lots of room for pulling wire, restoring the dash and installing the new AC unit.  In the process of gutting the interior we found both of the factory build sheets !

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration

The gutted body shell

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration

American Auto Wire kit installation









The green interior of the car was original and in amazing condition for its age.  The owners thought they would prefer a black interior so we did a color change along with the restoration.  The dash was repainted and the dash pad dyed black.  The door panels  were in great shape so they were restored and dyed.  We installed  a new headliner, carpet and seat upholstery to complete the look.  All work was done in-house.

Interior color change

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration interior split bench seats

AUto heat barrier and sound deadening

1972 Chevy Malibu restored dash and interior sound deadening









The Malibu originally had only warning lights so we installed a period correct gauge pod to monitor the new engine. We replaced the old radio with a retro-look head unit including Bluetooth.  The factory AC controls were replaced with the Vintage Air control panel.

And finally, here is the finished product.  The paint isn’t original but is a good 25 years old.  There was some damage and rust spots but we were able to repair them and get a reasonable paint blend.  The vinyl top is original !  We dressed the car up with some retro styled 17 ” wheels of the owner’s choice and left the ride height stock.

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration

1972 Chevy Chevelle Malibu at Bill’s Auto Restoration









1972 Chevy Malibu restoration crate motor with Fitech

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration dash with Vintage Air









1972 Chevy Malibu restoration interior color change

1972 Chevy Malibu restoration split bench seats and dash




This sharp looking Malibu is definitely not going to be a “garage ornament”.  Anthony and family are already racking up some miles and having a great time cruising the St. Pete area.  Keep an eye out for this beauty !