Winner of Best Modified Chevelle at the 2009 Super Chevy Car Show in Fontana.
GG is my Grandmother and my kids Great Grandmother or GG as they
affectionately call her and this is the story of her 1972 Malibu.
My Grandfather had always had Oldsmobile 98's, the big four door
boats with all the chrome trim inside and out. I remember as a kid
looking into the trunk of one of his cars and thinking that you could
put a queen-size bed in there. He always kept them extremely clean and
well waxed. In 1972 my Grandfather passed away.
My Grandmother knew right away that she could never maneuver the huge
Oldsmobile into her Santa Monica apartment's one car garage,
especially from a small alley entry. So she promptly went down to OWEN
KEOWN CHEVROLET Co. in Marina Del Rey, California and traded the
Oldsmobile in on a brand new Malibu two door. (I have the original build
sheet, Protect-o-Plate, owners manual, first registration, Atlas Battery
info, and 1972 Chevrolet New Vehicle Warranty and Policy on Owner
She purchased the Malibu with the following options:
350 CI V8
Black Vinyl Top
Tilt Steering Wheel
Black Vinyl Interior (bench seat)
Since she was already retired, her trips in the car each week
consisted of going to the grocery store, getting her hair done and going
to church on Sunday (honest). Over the years as we visited from San
Diego (and later Orange County) I noticed that she was driving about
2,500 miles a year. She also always had the car serviced at the local
A few years ago her sister, who lived next door to her, passed away.
My family lives in North San Diego County and offered to help her move
down closer to them so they could look after her and do things together.
She agreed and moved to North San Diego County (near the Del Mar area).
Once she was settled in I called one of my High School friends, Ron
Entzminger (760) 726-2310. Ron lives in Vista, California and has his
own Mobile Car Care business. Ron is not only the best mechanic I know,
he is extremely fair and honest. I told Ron about my Grandmother moving
locally and asked him to stop by and service her car regularly so she
would not have to worry about finding a new mechanic. I also asked Ron
to send me the bill(s) for any work he did on her car.
Soon I received a call from my Grandma. She mentioned that a nice
young man had stopped by and changed the oil and tuned up her car, but
would not take any money. I told her that I was going to take care of
that expense for her and hoped that she would leave me the car.
She laughed and agreed saying that I was the only one in the family
that liked "old cars" anyway.
About a year ago she called me and said come get your car. For the
record she is 92 years old, has had hip replacement surgery, cataract
surgery and is a frail 90 pounds. I asked her if she was not going to
drive anymore. She responded firmly "Well, you see I had a CD come due
and figured what the heck am I saving the money for, so I went out and
bought a new Ford Taurus." I was surprised, honored, and a little
shocked, since I wasn't planning on the car for a few more years.
GG turning over the keys to Jeff
My family made a big deal out of the trip to pick up the Malibu (wife
Tracie, son Shaun age 9, daughter Sarah age 10) and included a special
outing to Grandma's favorite restaurant for lunch with her and our
The Malibu had 75,0093 miles on it when we started the 65 mile drive
home. The first thing I noticed was that the original AM radio only
picked up KNX 1070 and weakly at best. I made a note to keep the AM
radio in place, but add a good sound system below the dash and some good
speakers in the back package tray area, which we did.
Crager wheels added - vinyl top stripped off, back window out
I had some Crager SS Wheels (2 15x6 and 2 15x8) in my garage from
an old 1957 Chevy I used to race at OCIR. I took them to America's
Tire on Marguerite Parkway in Mission Viejo for some beefy BF Goodrich
T/A's. I put a pair of P275-60-15 on the back and matched the height
and tread pattern with a pair of P215-70-15's on the front. I also put
a 1/2" rubber spacer under the front coils and a 3" metal stool under
the rear springs (Grandma's car was riding a little low from all the
years on the springs). When I took off the original hub caps, it
appeared they had only been off the wheels a once or twice! I stored the
14" wheels and hubcaps and liked the new look the Malibu had with just
the wheel and tire change. Next up was the front suspension. I pulled
all four control arms and had Dan at Freeway Auto (Avery Exit and I5 in
Mission Viejo) replace the ball joints and bushings. He always cleans
all my parts so they look like new when I get them back.
Ugh - Rust gotta go
Next came a timing chain and lifetime water pump install. This was a
hunch since the car had never had the timing cover off. It turned out
the original nylon cam timing gear had the teeth down to the nubs. It
was a good decision.
I began to notice rust and water leaks around the bottom of the back
window. I pulled off the original vinyl top off and removed the back
window. A friend of mine (Dennis Weber) has a metal fabrication shop in
San Marcus, Ca. and agreed to replace the rear panel below the window. I
bought the replacement panel from OPG in Huntington Beach to make the
job easier. Dennis used to build custom street rods and is a master
sheet metal man. The back window area is now set for another 28 years
(probably longer, we used lots of rust proof primer, enamel and silicone
putting the back window in and together.
Dennis replacing the rusted out panel
I am not going to mention the name of the place that re-did the black
vinyl top, because they upset me by adding a knee dent to the hood,
denting the stainless, leaving the windows down and filling the inside
with glue scraped off the roof. The pristine seatbelts (rear) will never
be the same.
Stripping car of chrome and interior prior to paint
Added SS Hood. Ready for paint shop
At Al Martinez in Orange
Next up was finding a place to paint the car. The old yellow green
gold paint had long since lost it's shine, and was in fact quite flat
and oxidized. I had already decided not to repaint it the original
color. If you have ever seen the original yellow green gold color, I
need not say more.
I visited Al Martinez Auto Body and Paint on 1011 W. Barkley in
Orange, Calif. (714) 288-6700. There I was welcomed by Mrs. Martinez
(Carmen as she asked me to call her). Carman's late husband had
started painting custom cars, trucks and motorcycles over 47 years ago
in Santa Ana. The business is now run by Al Martinez Jr. and his son
Danny Martinez (and of course Mrs. Martinez). They all made me feel like
family and took a genuine interest in bringing Grandma's Malibu back
to a respectable shiny color. I had picked out 1999 Cadillac Fire Mist
Gold and wanted a two stage, base coat, clear coat finish. Danny said
they would be glad to paint the car and gave me a very reasonable quote.
My end of the agreement was to have the car stripped of all interior and
chrome before bringing the car in. I also quickly added an after market
SS hood from OPG (non-cowl induction) to give the car a subtle
aggressive look. The hood was not a good fit and took some effort to get
it on straight and fitting as good as the stock one.
Left to Right: Sarah Paulin (Age 10), Danny Martinez, Miguel
Once the car was at the shop, the head painter, Miguel took complete
charge of the project. The car was stripped and sealed with a special
sealer, then sanded, primered, sanded a second time, primered, sanded a
third time, base coated, sanded again, clear coated, and sanded! The
door jams, under the hood, the trunk all look as beautiful and the rest
of the car. The color I picked was not the normal reds or blues that a
lot of old muscle cars are painted and everyone at the body shop seemed
to enjoy the special gold paint going on GG's car. I cannot say enough
good things about Miguel, every time I stopped by he was smiling and
quick to give me a complete update on the progress since my last visit.
He takes pride in his work and enjoys people that love their cars.
After getting the car back, I ordered all new weather stripping from
Soft Seal and new carpets from OPG. I added extra padding under the
carpet and in the doors to help quite the ride. It was a little
difficult getting the seatbelt bolts back through the floorboards but
well worth the effort.
The car gets lots of looks and great comments wherever we take it,
and it is a daily driver now with 78,000+ miles on it. We try to get to
the Fudruckers Cruise night on Tuesdays in Lake Forest on El Toro Road
once a month.
You may have noticed that there has not been one word mentioned about
the engine compartment. It is stone stock all Chevrolet parts. Smog pump
and all. One day I will pull the complete motor and set it aside and
install something stronger, but for now the stock (except for the paint
and wheels) Malibu will roll along as it always has, quietly.
We took Grandma out to dinner recently and she insisted on going in
her Malibu not her new Ford. After seeing the paint job and the new
carpet she now wants her car back. I had to smile and say no.