One Owner Project: 1974 Chevrolet Laguna S3

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This 1974 Chevrolet Laguna S3 is a one-owner example that has been locked up in storage for many years. Always known as one of the “sportier” models, the Laguna is a bit of a rare bird these days and an interesting alternative for a collectible muscle car that isn’t a Corvette or a Chevelle. This one is quite dirty and the seller says there’s rust present, but it comes with the desirable swivel seats and a complete drivetrain. Based on the description, it sounds like this Laguna belonged to someone’s relative before being parked in the barn as it was driven less and less. Find it here on eBay with bidding at $2,500 and no reserve.

The seller freely admits they have not made any attempt to clean it off, choosing to leave it covered in the dust and debris that graced its exterior for the many years it was stationary in the barn. When you look at the photos up close, it is seriously dusty, to the point that it’s hard to tell where the rust is residing that’s mentioned in the listing. With the door open, it looks as if there’s some rot in the bottom of the jamb, but I can’t tell for sure. This is always the risk with presenting your car as a true barn find, as buyers have to make guesses about how good – or bad – it really is. The Laguna does appear quite original, however, down to its vinyl top and original Rally wheels.

Of course, the must-have feature in a Laguna are the swivel seats. I feel like this model is known for its sweet buckets more than anything else, despite swivel seats making an appearance in different models. The upholstery looks decent despite years of neglect, and while the entire cockpit needs a serious cleaning, it looks like it’s not past the point of saving. The seller notes it is optioned with power steering, air conditioning, and power disc brakes, in addition to the swiveling buckets. The backseat looks practically unused, but other photos show some of the interior trim scattered around the floor and otherwise looking unkempt inside. Still, it’s nothing that some time with a shop van and screwdriver couldn’t improve.

Mileage is reported as 123,471, and the seller doesn’t note whether the 350 still turns freely by hand. No mechanical work of any kind has been attempted, so it’s safe to say the brakes, fluids, belts, hoses, and other parts typically replaced will all have to be addressed before a first-start is attempted. The rust is my big concern, as it doesn’t appear all that rusty in pictures, but the seller does acknowledge it as a problem area and the Laguna is located in Illinois – not an area known for being kind to old cars. Still, with no reserve and a clear title in hand, this rare Laguna S3 looks worthy of a refresh.

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  1. nycbjrMember

    Thought I knew of every GM product, but nope this one I didn’t know of!! Not a bad looking car, tho this one needs help lol

    Like 7
    • Thomas

      This was manufactured at the beginning of the malaise period. Not only was horsepower lax,the quality and durability of the bodies were questionable. They started rotting as soon as you made the down payment.

      Like 0
  2. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972Member

    What is wrong with sellers that won’t clean up a barn find? Too lazy? Or do they think showing a car with years and years of crud build-up will bring them more money? Take pictures of the car as-found and then clean it up, inside and out, as best you can. The seller will definitely leave money on the table offering this Laguna S3 looking like this, I mean, talk about no curb appeal. It’s an interesting car, probably fairly rare but if the rust isn’t too bad and the motor isn’t worn out, it might be a fun, fairly cheap project for a Bow Tie fan.

    Like 37
    • bone

      Its a flipper , he doesn’t care about this or any car, he just wants to turn it over for a quick profit ,so no need to wash and vacuum it or see if the motor runs. Just give the owner the $100.00 or less you paid for it , load it up and post pictures of it for sale before you even leave the guys driveway .

      Like 20
      • lc

        I did that one time. I even used the same pictures of the car from the seller’s post. lol. I bought it for $1,400, posted it, and had an offer to buy it out of Florida for $2,800 within days. The only problem is that I should have followed through with my flip intentions. But I liked the rarity of the car, and made the mistake of keeping it. I ended up doing things to it including having the engine rebuilt for a whopping $3,700 (not that it really needed it). I just wanted to make it better. Ironically, I hardly drove the car except to put gas in it, and that was mostly due to the carb issue that I always had with it on cold starts even after replacing the carb with another one purchased at Pep Boys. Another crazy thing was that the car had spiders, and my garage became infested with them which I had to call the exterminator! The car was featured here on Barn Finds once when I had it for sale with the black steely wheels.
        The culprit car was a 78 Mercury Bobcat. I eventually sold it for a loss to a guy in Utah for $3,000. I was blessed though to find a buyer after searching for awhile for one. He took off the white Mustang II/Pinto refurbished mag wheels that I had on it, and put on chrome centerline looking wheels. He also repainted it white with two red color stripes on the hood and roof.

        Like 4
    • Steve Clinton

      It’s called ‘laziness’.

      Like 14
    • Superdessucke

      Or cost. Seller was too cheap to spring for the large photos on eBay so maybe he didn’t want to expend the cost of the water to clean it up?

      Like 7
    • Kenneth

      not being ugly just showing it that was so it’s almost like you found it. A lot of times when I buy one like that. I
      t helps. I you can see the potential like that it a bonus when you clean it and realize it was better than you thought.

      Like 1
    • Big_FunMember

      One of my subscriptions on YouTube is “Unbox Theropy”. It’s very popular, and deals with unboxing all of the latest electronics…
      This leads us back to a primitive instinct from our youth – unwrapping 🎁. What’s in there? In this case, what’s under there? I admit, I be ticked if I bought this dirty and he cleaned it up. “How dare you, that was mine to wash”. It is odd to think that way, but it appeals to our child ways…
      Anyway – check out the stain on the driver’s seat. Round, like that’s where the beer can went. The condensation dripped into the fabric, and dirt and everything else stuck there.
      Picture 2 shows us a the car is not centered in the picture. Why? Well, if you look under the S3 logo, the right side bumper filler is cracked, and missing in the corner. Deliberate? Maybe that’s why no detailed pics of the trunk. He doesn’t want you to see the top of the gas tank!

      Like 3
  3. jwzg

    Too much rust and not collectable enough.

    Like 12
  4. Steve Clinton

    Regarding the car’s finish…Dust? Dirt? Patina? Rust? Scum? Filth? Take your pick.

    Like 9
  5. Vance

    I was 11 when this car was built, always liked the front end but didn’t like the huge railroad tie bumper in the rear. If GM could have incorporated the rear bumper like the front it would have had a winner. I can’t remember if these had the oval tail lights in this year, but I liked those as well. This car is aptly named because it looks like it was pulled out of a lagoon. It was the beginning of the malaise era, but putting a hot engine in it would make a good sleeper. Too much work on this one however, the rust and dirt are holding it together.

    Like 4
  6. wifewontlikeit

    I remember when the Laguna came out. I was living in Laguna Beach, California, driving a 1973 Mercury Capri V-6 and I thought, “They’ve shrunk my Dad’s Monte Carlo…” The nose was great!

    Remember, the gas crisis and regulations of that time meant all engines in 1974 had to adapt to the new smog and unleaded gasoline requirements, effectively lowering compression ratios which resulted in huge horsepower losses.

    Personally, I resented that the Laguna S-3 replaced the beautiful (and now valuable) Chevelle SS offering “a sleek new body design” and those body-colored bumpers. (My Dad bought the Pontiac version, the GrandAm, with the biggest engine they had).About that nose…

    The next year brought the slope nose front end models in 1975 and 1976, (that’s what I’d buy). The S-3 became the car of choice for many top NASCAR teams thanks to its “slipstreaming properties” at 200-mph. NASCAR had already killed the 1970 Plymouth Superbird (See Barn Finds listing) and the Mercury Talladega (also desirable but outta my price range), so when the 1976 season ended, they outlawed the slope nose Laguna S-3.

    RESEARCH: Of the 312,265 Chevelle Malibu sedans and coupes produced in 1974, only 15,792 were option E37, specifically the Laguna S-3 V8 that carried a base price of $3,723. This one needs a ton of work and the motor may be frozen. Current NADA Classic Car values have a 1974 Laguna Type S-3 with a 350 V8 in at $7,650 in “high retail” condition, to an “average retail” of $4,140. It’s priced right @$2550 for an interesting Cars & Coffee meet up, due to those swivel seats, depending on the rust. GLWEbay!

    Like 10
    • Bill

      I had a 1974 chevelle ls that had a 400 small block and swivel bucket seats, wasn’t fast but sure could lite up that one rear tire!! lol

      Like 0
  7. Rick

    Had a ’76 and loved it. White over red, same basic interior with the swivel seats. And succumbed to the same body cancer as this has. Great car, short life.

    Like 4
  8. angliagt angliagtMember

    I guess that I’m in the minority here,as I think
    that front end is one of the ugliest,cheapest looking ones
    ever made.A huge step backwards from ’72.

    Like 8
  9. Maverick

    It has a face only a Laguna lover liked. Lol. I owned one and loved it .rust ate it away.

    Like 1
  10. robert lewis

    patina….a new word for rust

    Like 1
  11. Sfm5

    Seeing a car in this condition should detract from its value, as you can see that it has been neglected for decades to look like this. This one looks like it was just pulled out of a swamp!

    Like 1
  12. Frank

    Dust and dirt can hide a multitude of evils.
    Also agree they are Fugly!
    They did make some with big blocks, that and the swivel seats are imo the
    only redeeming qualities

    Like 0
  13. Bill Hall

    I really don’t see any big cancer issue in the pic provided. Even the back window which is a notorious spot didn’t look that bad? The door bottoms and rear wheel openings look the worst. This looks like something that if someone was interested in making a deal a close in person inspection would be needed.

    Like 1
  14. PRA4SNW

    SOLD for $3,550.

    Like 0
  15. Brian E Eastman

    The fuel ⛽ tank probably needs replaced.

    Like 0

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