BUILD THREAD 1980 Malibu Coupe - 3.3 Liters to 6.6 Liters

ssn696

ssn696

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jul 19, 2009
3,758
113
New Mexico
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.

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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.

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Granny car with a heater and windup windows and a bench seat. But absolutely rust-free.

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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.

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So begins the saga.
 
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ssn696

ssn696

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jul 19, 2009
3,758
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New Mexico
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...
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ssn696

ssn696

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jul 19, 2009
3,758
113
New Mexico
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.
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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.
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The car was really clean otherwise, with a perfect frame and only a small crease in the right rear quarter panel.
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More to follow.
 
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ssn696

ssn696

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jul 19, 2009
3,758
113
New Mexico
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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Royal Smart Person
Jan 1, 2009
1,146
83
Tulsa, OK
How long did the trans last?
 
ssn696

ssn696

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jul 19, 2009
3,758
113
New Mexico
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 OD, it 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.
 
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ssn696

ssn696

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jul 19, 2009
3,758
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New Mexico
The T56 was an aftermarket version ordered from Sallee Chevrolet.

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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.

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I had to make a crossmember to fit the new transmission mount location. I had a crossmember from a B-body with a 200-4R. Laying the two on top of each other, I figured out the difference between the chassis widths. I planned to keep the single exhaust to accommodate the catalytic converter, required when you live in civilization.

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I sectioned the crossmember with a Z-cut and made it the right width for the Malibu.

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To accommdate the straight-across arrangement, I made up a pad extension from 14-gauge sheetmetal to match the OEM TH350 pad profile and welded it in. In those days, I had a huge sheetmetal brake available at the base. Didn't even lose a finger...

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I rigged up a shifter with a push button for the back up lights, not knowing how easy a hack this could have been. Youth an enthusiasm...

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I've learned a lot since then, but in those days, I had a lot more idle time to experiment. Here is the Landau coupe on one of its few voyages off my driveway.

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I always liked these aftermarket 15" rims I found locally when I was in the Navy. In 1994, I put I Dunlop D40 235/60-15s on in place of the stock marshmallow 14s. What an amazing difference in handling and traction! I later sold them on the Forum, and I hope they are still rolling somewhere.
 
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ssn696

ssn696

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jul 19, 2009
3,758
113
New Mexico
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.
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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

Comic Book Super Hero
Supporting Member
Jul 19, 2009
3,758
113
New Mexico
Update to the update.

Back to the car that is the basis of this build thread. 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. I had rescued the Granny special before it got scrapped. Lucky me.

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It was a no-frills car, manual windows, heater-only, but power-steering and brakes. And a three-speed floor-shift.

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

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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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