Skip to main content

Mighty nice mini Malibu

Finally, a scale 1978-'81 Chevy Malibu coupe

Bless Johnny Lightning and the men and women who work there. Clearly, each one of them has 5W-30 pumping through their veins through a high-output oil pump. Why? Because it takes a dyed-in-the-Naugahyde hobbyist to realize that collectors would be interested in a 1:64 scale 1978-‘81 Chevrolet Malibu coupe, and then build it.

The first car I owned was a well-used 1978 Malibu Classic Landau coupe that my parents handed down to me. Despite its high miles, it still looked good and drove even better because my mother loved it almost as much as myself. And while I regret my parents’ decision to sell it out from under me, I downright lament the fact no one has ever modeled any version of this final Malibu coupe, despite its well-established popularity.

1964-1970 Chevelle and Malibu fans can find die-cast models in a variety of scales, plus numerous 1:24-scale plastic model kits. Even the oft-overlooked 1971-‘72 Chevelle can be purchased in several mediums and scales now days. But despite its adherence to the original mid-size, rear-wheel-drive Chevelle formula, the 1978-’81 Malibu coupes are non-existent in scale form. Sure, you can find a 1979-‘80 El Camino 1:24 plastic promotional model or 1:64 die-cast toy or a 1:32 plastic 1979-‘80 Malibu sedan police/fire chief model kit, but that’s it, until now.

Johnny Lightning has unleashed two versions of its Malibu coupe as 1980 and 1981 models. The toy line’s 1980 Malibu coupes are generally modified, hoodless cars with huge engines, or feature custom paint with flames licking up the hood and fenders. Its 1981 models, like that featured here, are nearly stock with mag-style wheels. The maroon or purple version here has a half-vinyl top like the maroon 1978 Landau I drove, and a two-tone gold-and-cream coupe is also available in the Johnny Lightning 40th anniversary series at your local retailer. This 1981 Malibu coupe was scooped up from a Walmart store and features a metal body with an opening hood, a black plastic base and a plastic bucket seat interior. If you dig these last two-door Malibus as much as I do, swing through the toy department on your next retail store visit. If you find this car, you’ll be glad you did.

Image placeholder title

Where to Bid

Car Auciton

Check out the Old Cars Auction Calendar

The Old Cars Auction Calendar has the when and where you are looking for when it comes to classic car auctions.