Buy/Drive/Burn: Ace of Base A-Bodies From 1979

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

After our most recent Rare Rides post, your author perused The Big List of BDB Ideas and discovered a suggestion commenter Sgeffe made many moons ago. He suggested the most basic coupe A-bodies on offer in 1979. Feeling cheap? Let’s get weird.

Buick Century

Buick’s Century nameplate dated back to 1936, and the model entered its fourth generation in 1978. New that year, Buick applied the Century name to all its midsize offerings save for its standard-roof coupe, which was called Regal. The most basic engine was the 3.2-liter Buick V6 (196 cubic inches), paired with a three-speed manual. Basic Century customers longed for the Century Turbo Coupe, on offer only for 1979 and 1980. It was powered by a turbocharged Buick 3.8-liter V6.

Chevrolet Malibu

The Malibu was a brand new entry into the mid-size market for 1964, as it appeared as an upper-level trim of the Chevelle. Throughout the next two generations, until 1977, Malibu was constrained to a Chevelle trim. 1978 saw the name become a full-fledged model, as Chevelle was discontinued. Chevrolet held off on a fastback Malibu coupe, opting instead for a more traditional formal roof. Malibu saw the debut of a new family of 90° V6 Chevrolet engines, the most basic of which was the 3.3-liter, 200 cubic inch version. It sent 95 horsepower through the three-speed. The desirable coupe was the Classic trim, where the Chevrolet 350 V8 was available to complement the standard vinyl roof.

Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon

In production since 1961, the Cutlass Salon heralded the fifth generation of Cutlass, and it was the last instance where all Cutlass offerings were rear-drive in nature. General Motors placed much stock in the Oldsmobile A-body offerings, as evidenced by its variety of available body styles. The most basic engine available was the largest of our trio: a 3.8-liter (231 cubic inch) V6 from Buick. Base Salon customers stared across the showroom at the loaded Salon Brougham coupe with its waterfall grille and 5.0-liter (305) Chevy V8.

Three malaisey coupes with V6 power and few amenities. Which one gets a Buy?

[Images: General Motors]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 52 comments
  • RHD RHD on Jun 11, 2019

    [Meant to be a reply to Jerome10.] Agreed. I was a teenager then, and one of my neighbors had one just like the blue Century fastback pictured at the top of the article. It wasn't memorable for anything except being not very good at anything. They didn't keep it very long.

  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Jun 11, 2019

    Buy- Chevy Malibu coupe. You can stuff anything from a 229 V6 to a 500 Cid Cadillac engine under that hood and it will have the most value on the collector car circuit. Drive- Century turbo coupe if anything because it would have had the most power available that year combined with a sport suspension Burn the Ugly Cutlass Salon