We Lost One: Former Barn Find Feature Junked

Sigh. Pour one out and raise your glass: a car we previously wrote up and were hopeful would find a good home has been spotted in the junyard, stripped of useful parts and headed to the shredder. Recently, when perusing the awesome Facebook group “Abandoned and Neglected Vehicles,” user Alex Quick posted up photos of a Chevy Laguna S3 and noticed it was once featured right here on Barn Finds. Well, take a look at her now. 

When we wrote this car up, we noted that the 454-equipped Lagunas were a rare breed, with production numbers unconfirmed but generally thought to be quite low. Here’s what we said at the time: “Though not the most attractive car on the road, the Laguna S3 was available with the 454 four-barrel V8 that packed 230 bhp, a respectable number for the era.” Though this car had bad wiring, it was otherwise rusty but complete.

The tell-tale sign this is the same car? Check out the beauty mark on the fender. The group member who spotted the car, Alex, also noted that the swivel seats were removed and the console was damaged by someone trying to snare the shifter, but he took it anyway and plans to repair it. He and his buddy also grabbed Laguna front clip, and verified that the same license plate attached to the car when it was for sale was still on the bumper when removed.

Here’s the frustrating part: the original seller on eBay had the car listed for almost $5K, which was simply too much money considering this Laguna’s many flaws. So the vehicle likely languished for a few months, with the owner ignoring lower but worthwhile bids. Then what happens? He (or she) gets flustered and decides to “show them” and sells it to the local salvage yard for $100. So who lost in that scenario – certainly not the parts pillagers. Maybe the enthusiast community, a little. But mostly the curmudgeons who don’t have a realistic sense of what their car is worth. Thanks to Alex for sharing these photos with us!


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  1. Howard A Member

    Meh, never cared for these anyway. I’m sure some folks will be bummed, they were good cars. I can only hope that motor finds it’s way into that NSU Sport Prinz. :O

    • Woodie Man
    • Horse Radish

      What’s with the thumbs doooooooooooown here ?
      Howie is entitled to like and dislike what ever is ugly (just kidding, about ugly).
      My neighbor swears by older American cars, because he grew up with them around. I like older European cars, because that’s what I saw growing up….

  2. CJay

    I see this all to often. The owner wants top dollar for a car that is maybe repairable. Then sell it for scrap and gets less than what a couple of the parts are worth.
    My neighbor advertised 1957 Ford wagon for $2000 it was in rough shape, but had an engine, transmission and lots of the stainless was intact. When he couldn’t get “His price.” He sold it by the pound, my guess $150 to $200.

    • Mark

      Sellers forget sometimes that it is the buyer who sets the current market price by voting with his wallet.

      Like 1
  3. The Giant Cornstalk

    I was never a fan of that platform with their ridiculously angled door glass. While working at an auto center during college, I climbed into one of these to pull it into the shop and nearly knocked myself unconscious closing the door when the top of the door glass smacked me in the temple. I’m 6’4″ and why you would want glass curved into the passenger compartment at a 45 degree angle is beyond me. Stupid design. Thankfully, most of today’s offerings have a more upright (vertical) window design, thereby avoiding the temple-blasting experience that I had back in 1978.

    Like 1
    • Ruff

      Not too smart in 1978 huh ??? Don’t close door to car with your big head still outside !! lol … These cars were cool man . My pops had one . I’m the same height , never guillotined myself though …..

    • Dan

      I have banged my head on the window of my 72 impala more often than I care to admit. It really is a pain when parking in the garage close to another car. With those long doors, there is just no way out unless you put down that curved window. On the other side though, they sure look cool!

      Like 1
  4. Birdman

    Excuse me while I go cry…. another Laguna pointlessly junked…. :(

  5. nessy

    I’m not a fan of this car, however, I know how special it is. A car like that should have never, ever been junked. If the seller dropped his high 5000 price down to 1500 or even 2000, someone would have bought and saved this car. A rare car like this survives over 40 years to be junked. Pittyful.

    • JamestownMike

      I agree, $5k was WAAAAY out of line. I think $1,500 to $2,000 is a realistic number……..worth $1,000 on a bad day. Wonder how much they got for the motor?…….I would of bought the short block! What city/state was the car parted out at? The endura nose really changed the look of that car! That’s sad. :(

  6. Mark S

    At some point everything has a shelf life even we do. In the end it is just sheet metal.glass, and plastic.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Mark, you forgot something,,,memories.

      • Mark S

        Hi Howard if the memories were so important why didn’t anyone buy it.

    • nessy

      Is that right Mark? Tell that to all the Duesenberg owners and the owners of fine art. Don’t forget the museums.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        That comparison is a bit of a stretch LOL.

      • Mark S

        How much of what we value now will be here in a hundred years? How about five hundred years? Nothing lasts for ever. How many works of art were destroyed by the second word war? How many sculptures that have survived from anchant times only to be smashed to pieces by isis? There is a time for every thing. Even the duesenberg and existing art in our museums. I think you look at the world through rose coloured glasses and are being a little sensitive over a rusted out Laguna. Nessy I’m sorry if I come off a little as blunt but consider this, don’t you think that the more of these end up on the scrap pile the rarer the rest become. This car gave up a bunch of parts before it was crushed. How often have you seen fire victim cars. How many Porsches, cameros, mustangs etc. Has this site shown that are close to being a pile of dust. I’m sure that I’m going to get hammered now because nobody really wants to here the truth.

      • Horse Radish

        Nobody wants to here the truth about anchant times, really ?
        Point well taken, but this Was painful to rede.

  7. Jim Clark

    My Parents ordered a new 1966 Olds 442 Holiday Coupe when I was born. 4sp Muncie with the console. I was in love with it!

    Eventually was parked beside the barn and rust had taken it’s toll, but I had a plan.

    At 15yrs and change, I was at work and they had the junkyard pick it up. I didn’t speak to them for 3 days!

    • packrat

      Jim Clark, My deepest sympathies, and you triggered me:

      My white whale–my FIRST white whale, that is– was, I kid you not, a crisp 1954 Chrysler two door. When I was scraping around to try to get a running car in my teens, my mother let me know that my Aunt Minnie had had the one that my cousins and I had played around in her backyard, until about the year before. She offered it to my parents for free for me to drive in a year and a half when I got old enough to drive, but no. Less than 20k miles on it. She probably ended up paying someone to haul it off. There was a bunch of teary eyedness about that one on my part, it was a beautiful car. The next one was when my grandmother quit driving. She had a 4dr ’66 Valiant she had bought new after retirement with 21k miles on it. I had a Plymouth, but asked if I could get this one as a spare as well (I was a teen in school) as I had some money saved and knew the history of this car. They sold it quick to someone else for three hundred dollars. Three Hundred Damn Dollars. Within three months my car got totaled and I got driven around by my mom for nine months while I pulled together enough money for my next car, which was a ’75 Malibu that another aunt had who was a Tobacco Chimney. I stored it with a pan of white vinegar in the back floorboard for a week before I even ventured to drive it. It had safety glass in the seat cushions from smashed and replaced windows, bad tires and all the valve guides leaked oil into the cylinders. I paid a grand for that one. I got real quick at replacing fouled spark plugs on that one, and struggled with it for ten or twelve years as an interurban before I inherited (the chance to buy) another one.

      –Not that I have any issues about this.

  8. SunbeamerStu

    Crashes to crashes, rust to rust.

  9. erikj

    I was never a big fan myself.I had a 73 elcamino with a 454/4spd. About as rough as this one. I got it to drive and sold it.
    Saw it at a local car show,still old orig. black paint,but it was saved.
    I felt good about that!!!
    A time to remember when even this stuff has a following.

  10. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Don’t tell Dale Jr.

  11. grant

    Scrap yards (at least where I am) are interested in money above all things. Before it hits the shredder, someone go offer $500 for the carcass, you might be surprised.

    • nessy

      Yes Grant, that is how I got a Camaro for $150 some time back. I was walking out of a junkyard when a 78 Camaro Z28 with T Tops but kind of rusty came driving into the yard, nothing really special but not ready for the junkyard for sure. I said why are you junking this? He said he just bought a new Camaro and had no use for this old thing. They told him on the phone they would pay $50 for it. I gave him $150 and he was very happy to give me the title. The junkyard owner came running out and yelled at me for making a deal on his site and to give him the title. Needless to say, I told the junkyard owner to kiss my butt and drove the Camaro home. I kept if for a year then gave it to a good friend for free who fixed it up and still has it today. I was banned from that junkyard but a free Camaro was worth it. I’ll never forget that day.

      • JamestownMike

        I’m in the market for a 78 or 79 Z28 Camaro. What a steal! Thanks for saving that car, well worth it.

    • JamestownMike

      Nowadays most salvage yards cancel the titles directly thru the DMV/MVD system when the process the car. So most likely you won’t get a title and won’t be able to title and register the car ever again. Salvage yards are set up for selling parts, not entire cars (aka. used car sales).

      • nessy

        Thanks Mike, I’m glad we were able to save the car. This happened in the early 90s, maybe 1989, I forgot but at this time, it was just a 10 to 12 year old used car with rust. Today, 20 plus years later, that car which was almost junked is a nice cruiser.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        That doesn’t stop you from registering a car in most locales.

      • packrat

        …Yet, our local pull a part has an area from which they sell whole cars. If one comes in that seems a little too nice to let the folks disassemble with tire irons and claw hammers, they’ll leave it there. I heard about this because a friend recently came up with a nice looking Ford hybrid somethin’orother for 1500 that he got working for cheap.

      • Utes

        The operative word here, JamestownMike, is “….’when’ they process the car.”

      • Horse Radish

        Yep, especially out here in CA where the hunt after new car sales taxes is on….
        Once junked it becomes a more difficult task to register and title a car and most people will walk away…….

    • Ron

      I tried to buy cars like this from a scrap yard to save it but they said that they were not allowed to sell the whole car, only parts from it. What a shame

  12. Mercuryman

    I really wish that the classic car culture had no access to auctions like Barret Jackson and others. As I see it, people who would truly enjoy driving old cars are being priced out of the hobby. Remember when the Amphicar was bidding at $100k plus? After the first one sold, every speculator had to build/ sell one. For something to have value, it has to have something interesting about it and a person with sufficient will to make it theirs. The trick is balance. We all want top dollar for our rusty project but we are unwilling to pay it. I would rather get less for a project car if I knew the person would actually finish it. The more the purchase price is the less money you can invest before you exceed its value. My dad taught me about the Law of Diminishing Returns. I use it for every facet of my life. If true enthusiasts ran this as a hobby instead of big business I believe more old cars would be saved. The potential downside is that less companies would be making parts because of lower profits. I wish there was an easy solution.

  13. 68 custom

    this one deserved a better fate the the crusher, too bad… :(

  14. edh

    I liked these cars, this is disappointing.

  15. Marty Member

    Great write up, Jeff. I see that all the time too, on cars advertised on Craigslist. For a worthless, nearly rusted in half old truck, the ad goes something like this:

    “For sale, $900. If I don’t get my price I’m going to scrap it.”

    Huh? How does that work? Does that mean the guy won’t sell it to just anybody for $400, but he’ll sell it to the junkyard for $150? Apparently so.

    As a frequent Craigslister and junkyard patron, I regularly see cars advertised for $1000, and then see them in the junkyard a few weeks later-which means they sold them for less than $200. Sellers cost themselves hundreds of dollars by not being able to find a realistic middle ground on their asking prices.

  16. Pappy2d

    The big auction events do benefit some.
    1. The restoration shops that finish the cars much better than when they were new.
    2. Rich guys that need to be on camera spending money.
    3. The auction house.
    The rest of us get stuck trying to explain that not every 69 Camaro is worth 100K.

  17. Mercuryman

    While this car is rare, it isn’t significant. That should mean that instead of it getting an over restoration it should have had an enthusiast restoration. You know the kind. New metal where needed, a decent but not perfect paint job. Any interior parts replaced as needed with new seals. Nice wheels and tires. Some suspension and brake upgrades. The engine and trans freshened and improved. In the end you would have a car that turns heads but wasn’t so costly that you don’t drive it. Imagine how many people today that have never driven a powerful rear wheel drive car. You could have driven this for less the cost of a new Accord. And you could take pride in saying you did it yourself. People, It doesn’t matter if you like or hate a car like this. It deserved so much better. Someone should have bought this car and the seller should have been more realistic with his price. This was such a shame.

    • Horse Radish

      Bottom line:

      I bet nobody even called him or tried !!!

  18. scottymac

    I thought these were an improvement over a regular Malibu. Was this car in Ohio? Closest I ever came to buying a new Chevrolet.

  19. A.C.Z.

    That one could have helped me save my El Camino. If only the price would have been realistic.

  20. Cory

    I am not a GM guy but what kind of moron just scraps a car like that ?

    But then again it happens still with every make/model..even popular ones..

    I always had a soft spot for these,they were nice cars..I would rather drive a restored one of those than a new Asian car or European car and most American cars and suv’s..

    I have seen people like that,they want top dollar but they don’t sell it then they scrap it or let it sit for some odd reason…They neglect them too,they don’t start them or wash them and keep them looking the best a beat up car can..I do with my old cars that will be restored..I buy them,wash them,vacuum them air the tires up and put good tires that hold air..and don’t just let them sit without ensuring no rodents get into them etc..

    • Ruff

      My son and I have a cool 76 Nova that we bought for 600 bucks in 09. It was in a lot next to someones garage for years . We got it home and washed and waxed it and it looked like wow !!! We are still doing little things here and there but are pretty proud of it . I’m posting the picture the day we bought it after cleaning ….

  21. Rustytech Member

    Even after the salvage yards cancel the title, it can still be resurrected, in most states you can still get a salvage certificate which is then converted to a title after the vehicle is restored and inspected.

  22. Alan (Michigan )

    Really appreciate the discussion here.

  23. Tyler

    I always liked these cars. To me, they were a lot sportier than the same year Monte Carlo. The older brother of a high school buddy had one of these. The swivel seats were something you didn’t see everyday.

    Hopefully at least some of the parts from this one are going to keep others on the road.

  24. Jesper

    Dont forget, cars on junkyard help keeping others on the road.

  25. JagManBill

    late November I bought a 61 Galaxie from the crusher for $650. Car was mostly complete of all its trim, parts, etc. Took it home and had it running in about an hour. Taking it for a VIN inspection in a couple of weeks (as soon as it warms up a bit and I borrow a trailer wide enough) to get clear title. I do know the back story and its fairly similar. Seller wanted $5,000 for it. Two months later it got towed as illegal storage. Guy didn’t have the $1,200 it took to get it out of hock (towing, storage fees). I know he had offers in the $2,500+ range and he blew them off…

  26. JagManBill

    oh…and MY Laguna story…

    In 74 I had a 60 T-Bird. Was working at my Dad’s station and a Lag pulls in and has no brakes. Rams the butt of my Bird. Very slight dent in the left corner trim (pot metal) and the left bumper bullet got its tip flattened maybe a 1/4 inch.
    Did a $1,000 damage (1974 dollars) to the Laguna….

  27. RJ

    There is one of these sitting behind a dilapidated fence a couple blocks from my house. It is a later Laguna S3 with the more aerodynamic nose. Blue with white interior. Car is just sinking into the mud beside a 66 Malibu 2 door post. Property owner just pays his taxes, but does not tend the property or vehicles whatsoever.

    • Ruff

      Sad !!!

  28. James

    I always liked these cars also, and the big block is a plus. My story was a 56 Belair my aunt bought new at Frame Chevrolet. Black and white with 6 and 3 on the tree. As I was growing up she always promised me the car was mine. At 15 years old she was put into a home and when my parents went to visit her I had asked my dad to please ask her about the car. Later that night when my dad got home I asked if he brought up the car. He said that he had forgotten about it and I later found out that the car was basically given away to some guy in Conn. It still bothers me to this day about that 56. I waited quite a few years to find out it would not be mine.

  29. Pappy2d

    It’s an organ donor. Didn’t die in vain as it left other survivors in better health.

  30. Mercuryman

    Nice Nova Ruff! Good buy! I live in Canada and wish I had access (and money…. And time….. And a bigger shop…..) To some of the amazing finds our American cousins have. My dream is to go into business restoring cars that strike my fancy and selling them to like minded individuals. I still restore cars for fun but it is hard to find cool rust free cars here. There are some but they command a premium. Makes the Laguna story here twice as sad for me.

  31. JC

    This car is in the local salvage yard in Omaha Nebraska and they will not let you buy cars once they have been put in the pick lot.

    • Horse Radish

      Local or even state governments are enticing junkyards not to resell cars.
      They want them gone, so they can get people to buy new cars and collect sales tax on those……..

  32. Wayne S.K.

    In regards to the header, As the BMW driving Dude in Lethal Weapon 2 said, “Soddy Meester Rudd. Dese tings hoppen.” (just before he was promptly wrapped in plastic)

  33. Dave

    I grew up on my Dads car lot in the 70s
    I remember one of these on his lot in about 77 this exact color
    I don’t think I have seen another one in person since then
    I wish I had a lot of the cars I remember from back then.
    My dad did some repo work from a few banks and sometimes ending up buying them from the bank.
    He went to CO from AR to get 5 cars from one guy for the bank one time.
    One of those was a 1967 Austin Healy in perfect condition it actually took quite a while to sell that car back then.

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