Rare Original Owner 1971 Chevelle Malibu with a 402 Big-Block Chevy: The Original LS3 Engine

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Rare Original Owner 1971 Chevelle Malibu with a 402 Big-Block Chevy: The Original LS3 Engine

At first glance, this might look like a garden variety 1971 Chevelle Malibu. Even the "400 Malibu" emblem on the fenders isn't certain to catch your attention because most people will just assume its powered by a 400-c.i. small-block Chevy. In reality, it turns out Chevrolet just slapped on a badge that was close enough, and this Malibu is, in fact, powered by a factory optioned 402-c.i. big-block Chevy—the infamous, and original, LS3 engine. But the desirable list of factory options stuffed into this unassuming 1971 Chevelle doesn't stop there, and neither does the story that goes with it.

Dennis O'Berg of Brooklyn, New York, is the proud owner of the Chevelle Malibu and has been since he purchased the car new in May of 1971. "I ordered it with the 402-c.i. 300-hp LS3 engine. Also, the Muncie wide-ratio 4-speed trans with a 12-bolt posi rear, A/C, AM/FM radio, rear speaker, and rear defroster," Dennis told us.

For the first decade of the 1971 Chevelle's life, it was a family car and daily driver. Then, in the early '80s, Dennis decided to put the car away, citing mechanical problems and the need for a bigger vehicle for his family. Decades later, after saving up some money, Dennis found a shop to have the car completely restored. The process took close to 5 years to finish, which might seem like a while, but it was quite all right with Dennis. "I really wasn't in a hurry to have it completed," said Dennis, "plus the money hit came slowly also."

The restoration was a frame-off deal where the shop pulled the whole 1971 Chevelle apart and used as much of the original car as possible. They gave the Malibu new upholstery and paint, along with a few other little things but were able to rebuild the original big-block Chevy LS3 engine, Muncie M20 transmission and 12-bolt rearend. Even the wheels and hub caps are original.

"On a few occasions, people see the 400 emblems on the front fenders and think it's a small-block," Dennis said, "until I open the hood—surprise!"

Dennis O'Berg's LS3 1971 Chevelle Malibu Factory Options:

  • 300 hp 402 ci big-block Chevy LS3 engine
  • Muncie M20 wide-ratio 4-speed transmission
  • GM 12-bolt rearend with Positraction
  • Air Conditioning
  • AM/FM radio with rear speaker
  • Rear defroster


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