Home-Built Hero: Hank Kalinoski Is Proud Of His ’71 Chevy Malibu


It’s always a tough situation to buy a car that turns out to be slightly different than as described. It’s the same car, it’s the same equipment, but not in quite the condition that you were expecting. That’s exactly what happened to Hank Kalinoski of Waterbury, Connecticut, when he purchased this Chevy Malibu. “It was supposed to be a frame-off restoration car. It was advertised as frame-off, but it wasn’t,” Hank explained.

Although it may not have been a frame-off restoration, it was still a good looking car.

He has always been into cars, starting when he was about 16-years-old, and finding this 1971 Malibu was the product of a real search and not a spur-of-the-moment opportunity. Hank was looking for something cool to drive. “I am a big guy, so I wanted something bigger, that’s why I went for this Chevelle,” Hank told us. “I had seen this car at car shows around my area and hated the color when I was younger, but with the clear coat it really makes it pop.”


“I wanted a big-block, and this had already been converted to a four-speed,” Hank continued. “It had the cowl-induction hood and was striped too.” Hank felt the list of things on the car that were right was far longer than the list of what was wrong, but there was still a lot of work to be done. “It was really clean, but I knew I could make it better.”


He got under the car, pulled the body off of the frame, and cleaned it up real nice. As he was going through the car, he changed things so it was setup just how he liked it. He did away with the standard Malibu gauges, put a different set of wheels on it, and did a bunch of little stuff to really make it his own. “I basically changed the car whenever something wasn’t up to par,” he said, “A lot of it was aesthetic stuff.”

This car spent a lot of time in the air with Hank working underneath it. All that time and effort has certainly paid off, and now he has a car that looks as clean underneath as it does on top.

Hank is also proud of his car the way that it is, and has no plans of making it into something else. “This car will never see SS badges,” he explained. “I am not the type to make an SS clone out of a car. It’ll say Malibu as long as I own it. It’s just a Malibu and I’m proud that it’s a Malibu.”

We see a lot of SS clones, so it's cool to see someone being true to what they have and owning their car. There is nothing wrong with a Malibu.

Hank’s car is powered by a mildly-built 396 cubic-inch engine mated to an Auto-Gear M22W manual transmission, and a 12-bolt positraction rearend with 3.55 gearing. Hank kept braking speedometer cables and recently it wasn’t just the cable that broke, but the back of the gauge. After that experience, he opted to go with a modern, GPS gauge system. “I put in an Auto Meter GPS gauge,” he explained, “it picks up pretty well, even in the garage.”


For someone looking for a big-block, four-speed equipped Chevelle, Hank couldn’t have done better than this. It’s a great driver, and the unique color makes it stand out at anywhere he takes it. “This is what I was looking for. It had the big-block and four-speed in it already,” he explained, “and to find it in this color? That’s what drew me in, was this color and all the equipment.” On top of everything else, it also has air conditioning.

A lot of nice, new equipment went onto this car.

We love Hank’s Malibu. It’s a great car that’s not trying to be an SS or something that it’s not. There’s a great deal of pride to be had in being true to what we are, and this car is a straight forward Malibu. What do you think of Hank’s car? Make sure to let us know in the comments below.


About the author

Kyler Lacey

A 2015 Graduate from Whitworth University, Kyler has always loved cars. He grew up with his dad's '67 Camaro convertible in the garage and made it a goal to one day have a classic of his own. When he was 17 he succeeded in buying a dusk pearl 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air four-door sedan and drives it as often as possible, even taking it camping by using it to pull a vintage Apache hard side trailer. When he isn't writing for Power Automedia, he restores antiques, works on his car, and spends time with his family.
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