In its 50 years of existence, the Chevy Malibu had various personalities. From muscle car in the sixties to Iraqi taxis sold in Canada in the eighties to the soul-sucking piece of beige boring-ness of today, it’s hard to believe that the Malibu was once a quirky wagon with Swedish origins.
Welcome to Forgotten Classics
As demonstrated in the previous articles, the goal of this series of essays is be to bring cars that are getting no love back in the limelight. FC is also a thorough analysis of why such cars remained obscure and never got the praise they deserved.
The Chevrolet Malibu made a comeback in 1997 after a pause of 15 years, however, it was not until 2004 that the Malibu regain its past glory and became interesting again. As a matter of fact, the sixth gen Malibu was based on the European Epsilon chassis mostly developed by Saab engineers. That platform was used for a numerous of upscale sport sedans including the Europe-exclusive Cadillac BLS.
For some reasons, America was denied that glorious wagon, but GM had something in store for quirkiness aficionados, a long wheelbase wagon version of the Malibu dubbed the Malibu Maxx.
The base version was powered by a gas-sipping 2.2L inline four with Ecotec technology. For those who don’t know, Ecotec was basically the equivalent of Mazda’s Skyactive but without direct injection. But let’s not waste our precious time with the base model and go straight to the good stuff : The Malibu Maxx SS.
The Maxx SS in the quintessential Malibu. It encompasses all different personalities the Malibu had in the past 50 years, except for the convertible, in one car. It can be a muscle car or a taxi, it just depends how you drive.
Powered by the mighty LZ9 V6, the Maxx SS was capable of solid performances. The linear power curve of the normally aspirated 3.9L engine gave it an advantage over it’s Swedish sibling, the Saab 9-3 Aero Kombi.
Inside, the Maxx was extremely innovative. The folding front seats and sliding/folding rear seats made it ideal for Ikea runs.
Another neat feature was the rear sunroof, which was like a t-top for rear passengers.
Sadly, the Maxx SS was just too quirky for SUV-loving Americans, and the Maxx died in 2007, after only 3 years.
The good thing for us enthusiast is that because of it’s rarity, the Maxx will obviously become a classic, but for now, it’s a forgotten one. Now is time to get your your American Saab.