Back From the Dead: Carl Turner's Tire-Smokin' '78 Malibu Wagon

By: Todd Veney | 09/18/2017 < Back to Motor Life Home
Instead of having just another Mustang or Camaro, Carl Turner wanted something completely different, and he now drives what must be the most powerful '78 Malibu wagon in Kentucky, a rusty LS-powered sleeper. Turner, a Hooker BlackHeart exhaust design tech, owned it, sold it, and got it back – with a rod hanging out the oil pan. Undeterred, Turner traded his ride for the old Malibu and set to work building a 5.3 LS truck engine with a boatload of Holley components. "I thoroughly enjoyed the build," he says. "I'm glad I did it. I really don't tune it that much. I don't need to – I have a Dominator ECU running everything, so I basically leave it alone. The air/fuel [ratio] always looks good, and it really doesn't ever need anything. I put a base tune in it and made some minor timing tweaks, but it runs so good I don't ever have to mess with it." The 266-horsepower engine has single-plane Holley EFI intake with a 1000 CFM throttle body and multi-port injection. Turner, 40, also uses Holley's complete low-mount LS accessory drive, pressure regulator, in-tank fuel pump, G-Body engine-swap mounts, transmission cross member, 7-inch digital dash, and water pump. Also from the Holley family of brands is a Frostbite radiator and a complete three-inch stainless LS swap BlackHeart exhaust. What started as a potential drag race car ended up being a daily driver, something to take to work or to get around town with the family (though he did put it through its paces once at Holley's home track, Beech Bend Raceway Park, and ran a couple 14.60s). It's got a full interior, but, as of yet, no heat or air conditioning. And don't look for any new paint anytime soon. "I'm going to keep it just the way it is for now," Turner says. "I sure don't have to worry about any door dings."