Chevy Enthusiast via Hooniverse: The Chevy Laguna Type S-3

The 1970’s era was like no other when it came to the Domestic Automotive Landscape. In the course of a single decade, new laws were written that had a profound effect on the design, production, and the sale of cars. Within this new and heavily-regulated environment, Chevrolet introduced a new nameplate, the Laguna.

This is my July column for Chevy Enthusiast Magazine. It is an undiscovered collectible, mostly because the predecessor Chevy mid-sized models have a rabid following in the collector car community. Many Chevy aficionados consider the “Colonade” editions the Red Headed stepchild, with their massive bulk, lack of a true hardtop (or convertible), and Guard Rails used for bumpers. That is starting to change because these cars are undervalued. You could purchase 3 Laguna Type S-3’s (in rether decent condition) for the price of one 68-72 Chevelle SS. You may not get the rip snorting horsepower of the 396, but the 454 has stump pulling torque in its favor.

And look, I also did an Obscure Muscle Car feature on the Laguna over at CarDomain. I did a comparison with the Ford Torino, and it seemed that the readers over there preferred the Torino over the Laguna. So what do you think? Is the Laguna a worthy Muscle Car, or is it just a mildly interesting collectible?
Read the Chevy Enthusiast Article by clicking on this link. The CarDomain Obscure Muscle Car article can be reached by clicking here.

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  1. tonyola Avatar

    Sure, you could buy three S-3s for the price of an older SS, but you'd have three two-ton Colonnade pigmobiles with strangled, choked-down 454s gasping for breath. If forced to choose an S-3 at gunpoint, I'd take a slant-nose '75 with the 454 (same hp rating as '74), but I still think that the ugly '73-'77 GM intermediates represent some sort of nadir in the General's cars. If there's any comfort to be had from this, it's the fact the the '72-'76 Ford intermediates were even uglier (with impossibly fat hips) and more piggish.

    1. tom mason in Ky Avatar
      tom mason in Ky

      too each his own no power humm clink here… seems to be a ton of power here 1974 454/ 4spd all factory right down to the am/fm radio now i know shes a lil ugly but so is your wife non the less you /i still love her right well for those who talk cheap about the laguna may be they just haven't driven one so jump on you tube and take a ride on me {still under construction }

  2. BPR Avatar

    From Wikipedia:
    "The Laguna was the same as the standard Chevelle and Malibu, except that the Laguna sported a rubber urethane nose, and no front chrome bumper. However, for 1973 it had a rear bumper that was color-coded to the body color. 1974–1976 Laguna had chrome rear bumpers."
    No wonder I don't remember these things. They were insufficiently differentiated.

  3. Ermott Avatar

    I have always liked the look of these cars. A buddy of mine had one when we were in high school back in the early-mid 80's. If I had access to a decent, rust free example, I'd follow the following recipe:
    Take 1 Laguna Type S-3, remove the anemic power plant and transmission, add 1 1998 6.5 turbo-diesel with the 4 speed overdrive automatic from a GM pickup truck and enjoy.
    The diesel will fit almost anywhere a small block will go, and anyplace the big block once resided.

  4. superbadd75 Avatar

    These ugly beasts aren't even remotely attractive as a collectible in my book. Their typical malaise era garbage styling and anemic, smog-control choked engines leave very little to be enjoyed. The GMs of those days were probably the best Detroit had to offer at the time, but that's not saying too much. Just because they're cheap and will accomodate big power doesn't make them desireable. The front end of the one pictured above just seems to look at me and say "Blah". No thanks.

    1. tom mason Avatar
      tom mason

      well hall i have to say is heres my laguna 454 / 4spd all factory right down to the am/fm radio and after watching my you link to you tube tell me if you guys still the laguna is a sled i know they are different they ride great they are big cars but they are fun to drive and handle like a sport,s car this car has found its way home again after more than 20 years and i have my work gut out for me its in bad need of a some body work i have at this point just started on her so may be in a year she will be wearing a smile again i have a few videos here here is one i hope this changes your mind about laguna s copy and paste or or just clink here thanks

    2. FAST76 Avatar

      the 76 laguna is not an ugly beast the chevy laguna with a 400cid was a very fast and fun car

  5. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Don't get me wrong, I like the Laguna, but there can be only one king of Colonnade cool:
    <img src=""&gt;
    And yes, I hotlinked to your CarDomain article on it, Jim.

  6. dukeisduke Avatar

    Yes, the Can Am was way cooler. In high school I knew a guy that drove a '74 S-3 (it was just a couple of years then), and it could get out of its own way alright. Even better was another friend's black-on-black '73 Buick Regal Luxus with the 455. A real torque monster.

  7. K5ING Avatar

    Back in 1975, I walked into my local Chevy dealer for something-er-other, and saw a new Chevy Laguna Type S-3 sitting on the showroom floor. It was the first year for the slant nosed version, and I was blown away. I was always pretty current on cars, but I'd never seen one before. I guess the flat front versions didn't stand out enough. I had them take it right off of the showroom floor so I could test drive it. We worked up a deal, but I backed out at the last minute.
    About a month later, I was getting ready to trade my POS 1969 Chrysler Newport 4dr to a friend for his 1948 Nash when that deal fell through. I had some cash, and the title to the Newport in my pocket when I thought of that Laguna. I called the dealer and asked the salesman if it was still available, and he said "yes". I told him to prep it and that I was on my way over.
    I felt high as a kite when I drove away with that car. It was my very first brand new car. Silver with black trim, black interior with the swivel bucket seats. Black half vinyl roof, window slats, racing strip that wrapped itself all the way around the car. It was glorious. It only had a 350 in it, but that didn't matter. I felt like a million bucks driving that car.
    I take issue with the previous poster who said it was nothing but a Chevelle with a rubber front end. It also had the full handling package and the front suspension geometry was from the Monte Carlo. The dashboard was also from the Monte Carlo with round gauges (full set) instead of the Chevelle/Malibu's rectangular ones.
    That rubber front end really worked too. One day, I was pulling into a gas station and a VW bug pulled away from the pumps just as I was pulling in, and I t-boned him. It tossed the bug into the air as it did a quick 180. It blew out his rear tire, bent the wheel rim, crushed his rear fender and smashed his transaxle. Total damage to my Laguna was a little cut in the black rubber strip on the bumper. In fact, the attached picture was taken right after that little mishap.
    As much as I loved that car, I would still say that it wasn't a serious muscle car. Collectible, sure, but not for it's performance.
    <img src="; border="0" alt="1975 Laguna Type S-3">

    1. tom mason in ky Avatar
      tom mason in ky

      as a former and now again laguna owner i agree that was a great color combo and pkg. you had back then do you still miss her ?

      1. K5ING Avatar

        Of course I miss that car. It was my very first brand new car ($5,100 sticker price) and it was classier than anything my friends drove. I loved the color too. The only other one around was a maroon one with white trim. The silver looked much better IMHO.

  8. dukeisduke Avatar

    And it's parked next a Vega. Cool.

  9. K5ING Avatar

    Yea, that was my sister's then-new '75 (I think) Vega that she was so proud of. Also notice the long, whip antenna on my rear bumper. Early adoption of CB radio…LOL.
    Sorry for the poor quality of the photo. It's a 35 year old Poloroid shot that I was lucky enough to hang on to.

  10. muthalovin Avatar

    ah, the good ol' days.

  11. lilwillie Avatar

    Very much a Muscle Car. Every so often I catch one in Southern Wisconsin on the road and it always jerks my head for more looks. The lines aren't awesome but they are nice. A SBC and a proper track setup, put a TKO and cage and I think you'd have a popular track car that would get plenty of thumbs up.

  12. tempesjo Avatar

    Here's one in Dubuque that needs a little work:

  13. K5ING Avatar

    Just curious…. what color is the one you see in Wisconsin? When I owned mine, I lived in northern Illinois (Aurora) and I sold it to a neighbor after owning it for only about 1 1/2 years. I'm wondering if the one you're seeing might be my old Laguna?

  14. Black Steelies Avatar

    I'm inclined to agree, though probably not as opinionated

  15. lilwillie Avatar

    I can recall a Black one last summer. Before that a Maroon one was roaming my area years ago. They aren't seen often but I know them when I see them.

    1. hdhugger Avatar

      I see a maroon one too… the one I bought in February from Michigan! A 75 Chevelle was my first car, and I really missed that tank. Now I have another one, no rust at all (Califoria car) and I am very happy! It took 20 years to find the right one, and it was worth the wait.

  16. Black Steelies Avatar

    Yes, the Can-Am's had a certain something. Maybe just better looks

  17. dukeisduke Avatar

    Wow, check out the Firewall-to-fender struts. Ah, the good old days of structural band-aids, damper weights hanging off of transmissions, etc.

  18. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I love it. You are hereby awarded this.
    <img src=""&gt;

  19. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    +1 Clicked. Great story.

  20. tom mason Avatar
    tom mason

    ok i hope some here will rethink what they said about the laguna ive owned 2 of these and yes one was a sled to drive both where 74 ,s the 1st was a 74 400 400 trans no power there for sure but still a very driving car now my 2nd 74 laguna was my favorite 454/4spd with air pwr window/locks tilt wheel swivel buckets rear defogger 34.2 rear etc. that i just found again here in KY now i no she is a lil ugly but give me a little time and ill check back with you on that watch this my you tube video and tell me that these cars didn't have any power… i have a few videos of this car there please take a look and let me know if you still think about the 74 laguna i think if you ordered a sled thats what you got but if you ordered a monster then then put your seat belt on and hang on and what a fun car to drive ! thanks tom mason in KY

    1. hdhugger Avatar

      Don't sweat other people's opinion, Tom. If they were as popular as the 2nd generation, we would be paying a lot for them. As it stands now, it's a good time to buy before the value starts to rise. Last generation before the FWD crap out there. And I tell you, I will be thinking about taking mine out the first snow (before they salt the crap out of the roads) and doing a few donuts with my RWD tank just like I did 30 years ago… ah, the good old days!