BUILD THREAD 1980 Malibu Coupe - 3.3 Liters to 6.6 Liters

ssn696

ssn696

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Jul 19, 2009
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#1
If no one minds some time travel, I will start a build thread for my coupe. In 1999, I went back to college to earn a mechanical engineering degree, a decade after having the screen door slap me in the *ss. Across the street from the ME building was a church parking lot I used as a commuter. In the apartment building I walked by every day, there was a sad little gold coupe with a windshield that someone had decorated with a cinderblock. After passing it every day for about 3 weeks, I left a note on the windshield. About four months later, there was a voicemail that said, "Bring $150 and a battery. Leaving town at the end of the week." I showed up with my flatbed and a battery, put some gas in it and drove it up onto the trailer.
When I bought the car, I got the original title from 1980, signed over by the guy's grandmother.
It was a 3.3L V6 with a 3-speed. Granny car with a heater and windup windows and a bench seat. But absolutely rust-free.
After pulling out the engine and transmission, I cut out the shifter hump, since I planned to go with a T-5. I sold it on EBay for $75. Those were the days.
So begins the saga.
 

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mymontess

mymontess

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Dec 23, 2014
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#2
Updates?
 
ssn696

ssn696

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#3
Ask and ye shall receive. Time to roll up my sleeves, raid the archive, and document the 18 years of never quite getting this car self-propelled. Perhaps it will motivate me to make some actual progress this summer...
 
ssn696

ssn696

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#4
The Malibu coupe I have now is actually the second one. The first one was a $500 1979 parts car I found in Santa Fe in 1998 with a cheesy aftermarket landau top and opera windows. It's main redeeming features included an original 267 V8 (with fan shroud), bucket seats and console with floor shifter, plus the rare 'breadbox'. I had access to the Kirtland AFB Auto Hobby Shop, and enjoyed the space and shade in those days.
car2-jpg.68901
car3-jpg.68902

The installer cut the roof rails back with a Sawzall, wrapped the roof in foam and vinyl, and tacked it all down with a million pop-rivets. I tried to save it, but back then I did not have the ingenuity to deal with the amount of fabrication to undo the damage and rot.


The car was really clean otherwise, with a perfect frame and only a small crease in the right rear quarter panel.

More to follow.
 
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ssn696

ssn696

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#5
This car was my test mule when I had little money but a lot more free time. I pulled the 267 and replaced it with a 4-bolt truck 350.
insert-jpg.68912

I had a set of manual pedals and bellhousing I found so I also kludged a T5 transmission to fit. The T5 came from a 1986 Firebird, so the transmission mount reflected GM's crazy idea of rotating the shifter towards the low driver's position. When bolted to the G-body bellhousing, the mount was tilted about 18 degrees, so I cut the pad off the crossmember and made an angled one with some scrap bits. Fugly, but solid.
xmem-jpg.68914

This shifter on a repositioned F-body T5 comes right up through the center of the console in the old location of the floor shifter.

I used a free S10 handle for a more vertical position, but the knob ended up in about 'ape-hanger' level. An unintentional rat rod design before its time.
 
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Bar50

Bar50

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Jan 1, 2009
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#6
How long did the trans last?
 
ssn696

ssn696

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#7
How long did the trans last?
I never managed to drive that one long enough to break it or use it up. I had put a bearing and seal kit in it, so with the 2.95 1st and 0.68 ODit was about as good as a NWC gets. I still have to and plan to use it in the one of my 50s GM trucks. Someday.

The reason it didn't see much use is that I got a homework assignment from a friend with the same car. He wanted a T56, so ordered and shipped it to me and said, make it into a kit for me.
 
ssn696

ssn696

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#8
The T56 was an aftermarket version ordered from Sallee Chevrolet. It came with an adapter plate that allowed it to bolt to either an upright or F-body position. This T56 had an extra-long input shaft to accommodate the adapter plate.

then I had to make a crossmember to fit the new transmission mount location. I had a crossmember from a B-body with a 700-R4. I sectioned the crossmember with a Z-cut and made it the right width for the Malibu. I made up a pad extension from 14-gauge sheetmetal to match the OEM TH350 pad profile and welded it in.

I rigged up a shifter with a push button for the back up lights.

I've learned a lot since then, but in those days, I had a lot more idle time to experiment.

I liked these aftermarket 15" rims I found a long while back. I later sold them on the Forum. What an amazing difference in handling and traction putting Dunlop D40 235/60-15s on in place of the stock marshmallow 14s.
 
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ssn696

ssn696

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#9
Time for another chapter of the Coupe's Memoirs. Today's episode: Manual clutch options.
In 1995 I parted out a 1978 El Camino SS. It was utterly rotten; the back of the roof had daylight through it above the window. It came from the factory with a 350 'L' motor, bucket seats, console, and a manual shift. A big surprise was the rare-as-hen's-teeth '697' bellhousing for the larger clutch. I kept all the pedals, linkage, Z-bar and pitched the locked-up engine and iron Saginaw. Yet another episode of Hoarder's Lament, but I had to travel light in those days.
The bellhousing was cast to fit a 14" 168-tooth flywheel, for the 'heavy-duty' application, so I carefully kept the matching flywheel and fork. I welded up and filed the worn ends of the clutch rod back to round again. This is what I used in the first coupe, as seen above. When the second coupe came along with the 3.3L V6, it had the much more common '606' bellhousing and the 12-3/4" 153-tooth flywheel. They look very close, but particularly across the bottom, the casting is deeper so the flywheel teeth don't run into the casting.
dscn4037-jpg.76938

Notice that they both have the slightly-rotated pivot ball location set up for the G-body floorboard. I put a 153-tooth flywheel and 10.4" clutch and pressure plate for the 87 F-body under it for the T-5. I had to trial-and-error it at the parts store to find a starter that worked - No matter how much shimming, the teeth would not engage without scary noises. I finally solved the problem with an iron-nosed starter for a 1977 Monte Carlo specified for manual transmission. I bet they sold about 5 of those.
Time to hit 'save'.
 

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ssn696

ssn696

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#10
Update to and update.
In early 2001, I figured out that the 1979 coupe was not going to work out - although the rest of the car was a rust-free New Mexico survivor, the crappy Landau conversion could only have been saved by RcktPwrd.

After bringing home the 1980 coupe, I started tearing into it. I saved the shift handle and used it later as a cheapo stick on the Tremec.

Couldn't tell you how I used a claw hammer to help pull out a drive train, but I can't argue with the photo.
 
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