Any time a vehicle’s name is four parts long, you know it’s going to be rare. So when the OnAllCylinders team spotted a Chevy Chevelle Laguna Type S-3 rumbling through the 2021 Goodguys Summit Racing Nationals, we made it our mission to track down the owner to tell us about it.

As it turns out, Kelly Balik really, really likes Lagunas.

Spotting any Colonnade-era GM car is a difficult task nowadays, so we did a double take when we saw this rare beauty. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

“When I was 16, my mom let me drive hers to football practice,” he says. A few years later, Balik bought his own. “I loved that car,” he explains, but he gave it to his brother before joining the U.S. Navy. And when he got out of the Service in the early 1990s, he bought another one. Then, Balik picked up the all-original Type S-3 you see here a couple of years ago.

This little badge denotes the performance variant of the top-of-the-line Chevy Chevelle. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Never heard of one? Chevy introduced the Laguna name as the top tier luxury trim on the third-gen A-Body Chevelle in 1973, slotting above the Malibu. The Laguna Type S-3 debuted a year later and lasted until 1976. It replaced the Chevelle SS and essentially transformed the luxury Laguna trim into a performance model. The Laguna was Chevy’s NASCAR homologation special, and was successfully campaigned by drivers like Cale Yarborough.

Balik’s Laguna Type S-3 is a 1974 example, and wears a distinct nose than the facelifted 1975+ models. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Balik’s car is packing the standard 350 cubic inch small block Chevy, but the 454 big block was also available—with a four-speed manual too. “They’re really rare,” Balik says, alluding to the 454, four-speed combo. (The Chevy 400 was available under the hood for a brief time as well.)

For being an original car with 125,000 miles, this Laguna’s engine bay is impressively clean. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

These Lagunas also got the unique swiveling seats that were shared with Monte Carlos. But Balik tells us that the original seats, brackets, and related components are getting harder to find, as they’re being snatched up by hotrodders building custom interiors.

During the 1970s, these swiveling seats could be found in the Monte Carlo and Chevelle, along with the Oldsmobile Cutlass. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Balik’s car is bone stock, purchased from the original owner, and he’s got a trove of original paperwork with it. It’s in really good shape, and he’s only needed to replace some of the deteriorated rubber bits to keep it on the road. Since a lot of those parts are getting harder to find, Balik’s had to be resourceful, as he shows us some custom-made replacement bumper guards stashed in the trunk.

“I like original stuff,” Balik explains.

This Laguna Type S-3 is sporting the classic Chevy Rally Wheels. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

When talking about the S-3’s rarity, Balik is extremely humble. “I was going to leave it in the parking lot, I wasn’t even going to show it,” he admits. But with some encouragement from his kids, the Laguna rolled into the event and quickly attracted a ton of attention. “Some guy took a picture…said he’d never seen one,” Balik says with a grin.

We’re glad Balik decided to bring his Laguna Type S-3 to the show—and judging from the crowds that encircled it all weekend long, plenty of other folks are as well.

Check out some more photos below:

Balik’s Laguna is wearing the early style squared grille. (Image/OnAllCylinders)
Chevy Laguna S3 parked at summit racing in Atlanta Georgia
Later Laguna S-3s got a facelift, reportedly done to improve the car’s aerodynamic profile on the track. (Image/Brian Kreuser Photography)

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.