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Stunning 1975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Flexes Aero Features Banned by NASCAR

Introduced in 1969 and 1970, respectively, the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird are by far the most radical vehicles ever raced in NASCAR. But they aren't the only cars that got banned from the series because they were too fast. The Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-3 suffered a similar fate in the mid-1970s.
1975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-3 10 photos
1975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-31975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-31975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-31975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-31975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-31975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-31975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-31975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-31975 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-3
Yes, I know, muscle cars were pretty much extinct by the time the Laguna Type S-3 arrived in 1974 due to strict emission and fuel economy regulations. But while it wasn't amazingly powerful at up to 235 horsepower, the two-door coupe was significantly more aerodynamic than its competitors thanks to its sloped nose, small quarter windows, and fastback-style rear window.

The regular Chevelle Laguna had already been successful during the 1973 season, winning seven races, but the introduction of the Type S-3 turned the Chevelle into a dominant force. The Laguna scored 12 wins in 1974, 10 of them with Cale Yarborough behind the steering wheel.

The 1975 season wasn't as successful with only six wins, but the Laguna fought back with 13 victories in 1976 and 15 more wins in 1977. Overall, the Chevelle Laguna brought Chevrolet a total of 53 NASCAR wins and four manufacturers' championships over five seasons. Cale Yarborough also won the first two of his three consecutive Winston Cup championships driving the Laguna.

All this despite NASCAR's effort to slow down the Chevrolets on its fastest tracks by requiring them to be fitted with restrictor plates. Ultimately, NASCAR rendered the Laguna S-3 ineligible for competition following the 1977 season. And the racing ban also put an end to the nameplate as a production model.

Of course, the road-spec Laguna Type S-3 wasn't equipped with NASCAR-spec gear, but it had quite a few extra features that set it apart from the regular Colonnade hardtop. The list included a vinyl roof, opera-type rear quarter windows, body-side stripes, front bucket seats, and a six-dial instrument cluster. It was also equipped with Rally wheels, a front stabilizer bar, and stiffer shocks and springs.

Overall, it was slightly sportier than the regular Laguna but it wasn't necessarily faster. That's because it came with a 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) V8 rated at only 145 horsepower as standard. However, Chevrolet also offered a 400-cubic-inch (6.6-liter) unit rated at 150 or 175 horsepower, and a 454-cubic-inch (7.4-liter) V8 good for 235 horses.

The aero package that made the S-3 the car to beat in NASCAR arrived in 1975 and included the slanted, urethane-covered nose and louvered opera quarter windows. The beautiful metallic blue example you see here is one of those cars. A wonderfully restored and maintained example, it's one of only 7,500 Laguna Type S-3 cars built in 1975 and it boasts all the cool features that made it the aerodynamic monster of that era.

An all-original classic, it still rocks its numbers-matching V8 engine, but it doesn't rock the range-topping 454 V8 that generated 215 horsepower that year. This coupe was ordered with the smaller 400 four-barrel V8, which came with 175 horsepower on tap. Yes, it's far from impressive nowadays, but it wasn't bad for an era when the Corvette barely exceeded 200 horsepower and the Ford Mustang delivered less than 150 horses with a V8 under the hood.

All told, the Chevelle Laguna Type S-3 is one of the coolest coupes from the Malaise Era and one of the very few that comes close to being a muscle car. Check it out in the video below.

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