Ryan Gosling’s Chevelle Malibu in “Drive”

Article Highlights:

  • Ryan Gosling reconstructed the 1973 Chevrolet Malibu junkyard his character drove in the 2011 film Conduct.
  • The 1973 Malibu had little to do with its primed gray exterior. However, the car‘s raw, subtle presence and powerful capabilities are an automotive mirror of Gosling’s character.
  • Conduct Director Nicholas Winding Refn gave Gosling artistic license to choose his character’s car. Gosling handpicked the project car from a Los Angeles junkyard.

2011 film by Nicholas Winding Refn Conduct is the story of a confrontational, strong-silent type car guy played by Ryan Gosling. Gosling’s character, simply referred to as “Driver”, works as a mechanic during the day and as a stuntman afterwards. If that wasn’t enough, Driver is a calm and calculated getaway driver at night. Viewers have a feeling that Driver’s stunts are where he wants to be, which is on the Los Angeles entertainment scene. However, his activities and interests get him caught up in the LA gangster business, and trouble ensues.

The Malibu isn’t just a good choice for Drive, it’s Ryan Gosling’s personal pick

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In the film, Ryan Gosling’s character drove many cars, including an S197 Ford Mustang and a modified Chevrolet Impala. When Gosling’s character isn’t a helmsman for heists, he’s driving a charming 1973 Chevy Malibu in primer gray. The car has lovely lines and classic styling, lending itself well to LA’s often dialogueless driving shots.

Ryan Gosling roams the streets of Los Angeles in his 1973 Malibu in Drive | Universal images

Inside the Chevelle’s cabin, viewers may notice the aftermarket gauge cluster, suggesting Driver modified the car beyond the anemic performance of a 1973 Chevrolet Malibu. Perhaps the film’s most interesting connection is the connection between Ryan Gosling and the Chevrolet. Given the opportunity by Refn, Gosling chose the car himself after inspecting the dumps.

Not only did Gosling choose the car, he also rebuilt it himself. According to Street Muscle Magazine, professionals towed the car to a warehouse in Los Angeles, where Gosling reduced the Malibu to a single chassis. From there, he rebuilt the entire car except for the transmission, which other mechanics rebuilt. Gosling said working on the car gave him valuable insight into the automotive spirit and patience of his character, Driver. It’s nice to hear, especially for those of us who scream at the screens when we see the most obnoxious of vehicular missteps.

The 1973 Chevy Malibu is a cool little muscle car plagued by tough times

    Movie Car Monday Ryan Goslings Chevelle Malibu from drive

Ryan Gosling and Nicholas Winding Refn at the Cannes Film Festival | George Pimentel, Getty Images

The 1973 Chevrolet Malibu had to follow the oil crisis, which is generally considered the first extinction of the muscle car. Fuel prices were out of control and big, lumpy V8s were just unsustainable. According to HagertyMalibu owners could opt for the car with a 250-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine or a healthier 350-cubic-inch small-block V8. Some Chevelles of the era packed a more powerful 454 cubic inch big block. It wasn’t powerful by today’s standards, but it was a start.

If you look Conduct, however, Gosling’s little Malibu doesn’t appear to be in stock. Besides looking like a primed project car, the car sounds like it has a happy V8. Street Muscle Magazine thinks that given Driver’s mechanical aptitude, the car likely packs a streetable V8 with more power than the stock car. Scroll down to the next article to learn more about modern muscle cars.

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