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:
[…] have several single-vehicle feature articles coming up in the next week or two—like this Laguna Type S-3 for […]
This is awesome to see! Ever since I was old enough do you know what A car is, my dad always told me about his first car was a Laguna and how awesome it was and how much she loved it I’ve never seen one though so it’s awesome to be able to see one finally! Thanks for the article and pictures!
Hey, thanks for reading!
[…] Oh, and have you seen some of our featured vehicle posts? Check out this little autocrossing Honda, a real-deal Meyers Manx, and this ultra-rare Caprice/camper combo. (And if you’ve never heard of a Laguna Type S-3, read this.) […]
Hi,, your articles show up in my facebook pages & like reading about all the small chevy stuff,,, since have a 97 chevy pick up,, 350…But any way,,Just found your Laguna article!!!! I had a 1973, 350, 4 barrel 4 speed(sagina,,bla,, blew that up),,,put a muncie, m22 in it,,then finnally a 12 inch corvette clutch,, because the original 10 incher couldnt hack it with the highway 2.92 rear end…( & to all the smart asses,,, I am a proffessional with the clutch!!!) Found it at a car dealer with the top end taken apart,, was originally going to only use the tail light body parts to fix a rusted out malibu,, but then found out what a Guna really was…So rebuilt it,, all TRW parts, mild cam(or thought so at the time,,,,Told the parts guy what I wanted to do,, he said,, here,, put this in,,,), headers,, It was a real fun ride,, especially when the folks with the z28’s( with the loud pipes only) thought it was a piece of crap & wanted to run it,,,All I had to do was step on 4rth gear & it would already start pulling away,,,Then I’d slap it into 3rd & let the show begin,,,Front end would pick up to the limit of the shocks,, & take off like a rocket!!!!! it was FREAKISHLY fast for such a large car!!!!! & not saying was fastest around,, but only spent $1000 on parts to do it, granted was back in 1983,, but it took others with like 5000$$ engines to run it after sold it to a buddy who dragged on the weekends…. After I got out of boot camp for the reserves I needed $$ for a daily driver to pay my rent n mortgage n stuff.. So it was the appropriate thing to do…sadly,,,& I also have to add that I much more prefer the ‘Guna’s with the round tail lights vrs. the 74 & up with the rectangles… Wish still had my pictures,,Lost so much when my area unexpectedly flooded during the hurricane Irma.. Any way,, Thanks for the great articles & look forward to more great reads,, even if any rebuilding or hot rodding isnt on the horizon in my near future…. I’ve heard my 97 is too computerized to do much with,, but thats ok,, other than its super crappy gas mileage,,, but different story for different pages,,,,,
Glad ya liked the story Ray!
It makes me sick. I owned 1974 laguna s3 was beautiful. Paid $4200 FOR it. Mine had spoke wheels. It got rusty over rear window due to leak sunroof seal. Wife DIDN’T like car sold it to neighbor son had repo it was destroyed.
I had fun with mine it is what it is it was cool
I have one, and I am looking to sell it.
I am selling one now. 74 Laguna S3 454 auto. Ran and drove before I parked it seven years ago. Located in Littlerock Ca 93543. Selling for $5800 needs restore but has AC, full gauges, swivel seats etc…
Do you still have the laguna for sell?
Still have the LUGUNA for sale? Would like to see pics. Looking for a affordable entry level project. I’m in Phx Az. 85303
Do you still have your laguna and do you have any pics
So many memories .of my 1974 Laguna S-3. I purchased it new at Guaranty Chevrolet in sunny southern California. My sales rep Terry Cairio did a fantastic job putting my deal together for me (I traded in an excellent condition 66 Chevy Impala which is most likely still rolling the streets of SoCal). At the time I purchased the car I was a young U.S. Marine. I made several runs from SoCal to Chicago via route 66 before that route was no more. I only had one issue with the car, I had a chevy 400 power plant, which would from time to time overheat luckily for me it never happened as I frequently drove great distances through the desert. Fun and beautifully designed car.