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The Chevy Malibu Was So Uncool It Was Cool

If you asked a child to draw a car, the result would probably be something that looked like the Chevrolet Malibu.

For decades, this dependable midsize vehicle was a stalwart of the American road. Because that kind of thing is no longer in demand, it came as no surprise when General Motors announced on Wednesday that it would discontinue the model as it shifts its focus to sport utility vehicles and electric cars.

The Malibu never had the back-alley glamour of the Chevrolet Camaro or the brute force of the Chevrolet Impala. It was the ultimate normcore-mobile, made for a time when Americans were content to drive simple, gas-powered sedans, rather than rugged S.U.V.s, high-riding pickup trucks or electric vehicles that cruise along in near silence.

A 1964 Malibu had a supporting role in “Pulp Fiction.”Credit…Everett Collection

The Malibu originally appeared in the 1960s as part of Chevrolet’s Chevelle line. It was a consistent seller through the 1970s. For a time, it was used as a patrol car by police departments across the country. General Motors took it off the market in 1983 and brought it back in 1997.

Upon its return, the critics were not exactly kind. “Ah, Malibu,” Car and Driver magazine wrote in a 1997 review. “The word evokes images of surf bunnies, movie stars and languid decadence by the sea. Not the sort of vision that comes to mind on first sight of this new Chevrolet sedan. Maybe Chevy misspelled it. Mallibu sounds more like it.”

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