If you’ve ever Googled “worst neighborhood in Milwaukee,” you might have seen an aerial view of Chad Moskery’s ’80 Malibu right before he bought it. As followers of Craigslist, we’ve been to places from where we were escorted out by police for our own safety. Chad Moskery was led to such a place with a wad of cash, oblivious to the danger. As he talked to the car’s owner and associated riffraff, it dawned on him that, in this place, cash was king, and the $4,800 asking price was way too high. He offered $2,200 in crisp 100s, made the deal, and loaded up the trailer as fast as he could.
When he got home, he took a long look at the prize and realized he had an original ’80 Malibu with only 8,900 miles on the odometer. It had an original 229-inch V6, an automatic, documents from 30 years of dealer service, and some water stains from a leaky garage. It was an otherwise perfect, amazing find for that part of the country.
Chad had swapped engines in Malibus before, so he got to work with a Grand National 3.8L turbo engine that came out of a 10-second True Street Pontiac Firebird.
“I always wanted a Grand National but didn’t like the crowd the cars attract,” says Chad. “I’m not about the flash.”
After the drivetrain swap, the car went on the track, but Chad had to lift at 100 mph in the eighth-mile for safety reasons. It’s meant to be a fast, low-maintenance street car, and it is. “Mat the gas at 50 mph, and it goes to 100 instantly. It blows people away,” says Chad.
“Car washes are overrated.” - Chad Moskery
Who: Chad Moskery
What: ’80 Chevrolet Malibu
Where: Des Moines, IA
Engine: The stock Buick Grand National engine has an iron-block and heads and a big, single turbo that makes an advertised 245 hp. This one has an extra point of compression from a set of Speed Pro forged pistons and some bottom-end durability from a forged crank and rods. The heads were reworked and CNC-ported by Champion Racing Heads and the turbo was upgraded to a Precision 61mm. The cam is a Comp custom hydraulic roller with 205/210 duration at 0.050 and 0.479 lift. With 28 pounds of boost, the Malibu makes 611 hp at the wheels.
Tune: The engine and computer use the factory Grand National harnesses and computers. Dicus Benton in Tulsa, OK, built the engine, and Steve Beckett at Beckett Performance tuned the combination using LS Edit software. The fuel pump, picked up on eBay, was made by Bosch for a Mercedes-Benz. It feeds some big, 60-pound injectors.
Transmission: The original Buick 200R4 was beefed with billet parts and a PTC converter with the anti- balloon plates that stalls around 3,500 rpm.
Tricks: Six-cylinder cars have the same engine crossmember as on a Regal, so the bolts were there for GN motor mounts. Chad had to trim a bit of fat from the firewall to fit the oval downpipe feeding the 3-inch exhaust. The intercooler is a custom piece using parts from eBay. The radiator is from a ’98 to ’02 F-body.
Rearend: Chad hoisted a complete 81⁄2-inch 10-bolt from another Grand National and bolted it in with Metco upper and lower control arms. That gave the car a 3.42:1 gear ratio and a limited slip.
That Thing: There is another pump under the hood that feeds methanol to the intake hat using a Alky Control system. See it?
Interior: Stock like the day it was born. Look for the factory radio delete.