A year after General Motors Corp. downsized its large cars, it turned its attention to the company's midsize offerings. At Chevrolet, the result was the all-new Malibu series. The cars were up to 22 inches shorter and as much as half a ton lighter and narrower than the preceding models. Amazingly, however, the car had more interior room than the bigger Malibus. This was accomplished by thinner, sculpted doors and shell-type seats. To make the doors thinner on the four-door models, Chevrolet eliminated the roll-down windows in the rear doors, making air conditioning a must for summer driving. The standard engine was a 3.3-liter V-6 derived from Chevrolet's small-block V-8. The Malibu had a full-perimeter frame to give it a big-car feel on the road.

THE SPECS

Price $4,684

Engine 200-cubic-inch (3.3-liter) V-6

Horsepower 95 at 3,800 rpm

Wheelbase 108 inches

Overall length 192.7

Passenger capacity 6

HISTORICAL FACTS

Year 1978

President Jimmy Carter

Median family income $17,640

Dow Jones industrial average (year-end) 805.01

Academy Award movie "The Deer Hunter"

Milestone Airline deregulation approved by Congress