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.
“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.
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 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.)
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.
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.
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: