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Old 11-29-2012, 01:04 PM
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With the Laguna nameplate now bearing the sporty model in the Chevelle line, the top-line series for 1974 was the new Malibu Classic series, offered in sedan, coupe and station wagon models. Unlike the 1973 Laguna, the Malibu Classic used the same front end and chrome bumper as the lesser (Malibu) models, but the smaller vertical rear quarter "opera" windows and a spring-loaded hood ornament were featured. Early '74 Classic coupes required the vinyl roof option; apparently inserts were used to cover part of the big rear quarter window. Later '74s were available with a standard painted roof that included the smaller "opera" window. Inside, the Malibu Classic featured luxurious interiors with notchback bench seats upholstered in cloth or vinyl, carpeted door panels and woodgrain instrument panel trim. Optional on Malibu Classic coupes were swivel bucket seats (with console) in cloth or vinyl. The base Deluxe series was dropped for 1974, making the Malibu the base model. Base engines were the 250-cubic-inch six and the 350-cubic-inch V8.

For 1975 although the basic body styling was unaltered, the Colonnade designation was dropped. The lineup was marked by fresh front and rear styling including a vertical grid-patterned grille and new bright trim around the headlights were highlights. Rectangular taillights sat flush with the body surface, connected by a brushed chrome panel. Malibu Classic coupes had distinctive opera windows. Landau coupes came with a vinyl roof, full wheel covers, whitewall tires, color-keyed body striping, and dual sport mirrors. Engines ranged from the standard 250-cubic-inch six and 350-cubic-inch 2-barrel V8 to V8 options of 400 and 454-cubic-inch size, the last with a 235-horsepower rating. Variable-ratio power steering was now standard with V8 models, and all 1975 models rode steel-belted radial tires. A new "Chevrolet Efficiency System" introduced a High-Energy Ignition (HEI). This electronic ignition system provided minimal maintenance and increased power. Speedometers were now calibrated in both miles per hour and kilometers per hour. Following its debut as a 1974 model, the sporty Laguna Type S-3 left the lineup briefly, then reappeared in January 1975. This time, it wore a rakishly slanted, urethane-covered aero-style nose designed for NASCAR (first use on a Chevrolet vehicle - later to show up on the 1983-88 Monte Carlo SS), louvered opera windows, and could be ordered with a vinyl half-roof. The 454 engine option was available for the first half of the model year after which the 400 engine became the top engine. Options included an Econominder gauge package, affirming again that the age of muscle was long gone.

1976 Chevelles earned a billing as "a size whose time has come." Malibu Classics adopted a diamond-pattern grille and stacked rectangular headlights, while regular Malibus kept a single-light setup and plainer grillwork. Three V8s were available: a new 305-cubic-inch version rated at 140 horsepower (100 kW), a 165-horsepower 350-cubic-inch, and a 400-cubic-inch engine that developed 175 horses. Options included the Econominder gauge package. In its third and final season, the 1976 Laguna Type S-3 was little changed. It again featured quarter-window louvers and a sloped, body-color urethane front end. Lagunas shared their round-gauge instrument panel with the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and could be ordred with a four-spoke sport steering wheel as well as swivel front bucket seats and a center console. Lesser models made do with a more conventional dashboard and a linear-readout speedometer. Production of the Laguna edged up to 9,100 cars as the base price went to $4,621.

The 1977 Chevelles got new grilles. The lineup consisted of Malibu and Malibu Classic models in coupe, sedan, and station wagon body styles. Estate Wagons and the Laguna Type S-3 were gone. Malibu Classics, again the top model, switched to a vertical grille pattern and six-section taillights but kept their twin stacked headlights and stand-up hood ornament. Malibu grilles changed little. Fewer engine selections were available though the engines that remained gained a few horses. In standard form, Chevelles had a 250-cubic-inch six-cylinder engine or a 145 horsepower (108 kW), 305-cubic-inch V8. The sole option beyond that was a 170 horsepower (130 kW), four-barrel 350-cubic-inch V8 (this engine was standard in the Malibu Classic station wagon) Malibu Classics had a luxurious cloth/vinyl split-bench front seat, color-keyed steering wheel, and woodgrain-accented instrument panel. Malibu options included a $46 Exterior Decor group, $54 tinted glass, and $33 full wheel covers. A total of 37,215 Malibu Classic Landau coupes were produced, as opposed to 73,739 Malibu Classic coupes and 28,793 Malibu coupes. In four-door sedan form, too, the Malibu Classics outsold base models by a substantial margin. The 350 V8 was the top engine.

A Chevelle SE (special edition) was available and provided front and rear spoilers, turbine II wheels, F60x15 tires, special graphics and decals, quarter window trim, front and rear sway bars, F41 sport suspension and a deluxe interior. Three colors were available. 50 of these rare cars were built.When GM downsized its intermediate models for 1978, the Chevelle name was dropped. Malibu became the nameplate for all models.

Speed and Supercar magazine said in a June 1974 "Street Test": "Chevy gets it right on." "Enough is plenty, that's how we feel about the 350 Laguna. "...We couldn't pass up the opportunity to tell you what a groovy all around car it is even if it can't smoke the quarter-mile in 13 seconds. And what car in '73 can." "It's not overpowering but it's enough - and so comfortable that the editor bought the car." "The Laguna is the type of car you want to own for fast, comfortable transportation in quiet luxury."[17]

Motor Trend - 1973 Buyers Guide said: "Chevrolet is fielding an all-new intermediate Chevelle series at a time when competitive lines from Ford and Chrysler are one or more years old...when you look at what the stylists have done with what we used to call the pillar coupe, you might want to rush out and buy some stock in General Motors."

Motor Trend said: "The Grand Am and the Laguna are large "small" cars. Nimble, quick and responsive." "The cleanly styled Laguna has a lot to recommend it. The car has a very tight feeling, a by-product of the heavily ribbed underbody and double paneled roof. Strongly in the Laguna's favor is the intergrated [sic?], body-colored urethane bumper-front end. It's a lot better looking out-front than the big bumper approach."

Car and Driver said: "Directional stability is so strong on the highway that the Laguna seems locked on some guidance-beam radiated from your destination." "The Laguna's urethane nose cap allows the front end to be flat and free of gaps in this day of jutting bumpers; it's block-cut fenders are chauvinistically masculine, and no sheet metal is wasted cloaking its tires from view...so the Laguna looks like it could bowl over most of the cars on the road."

The third generation Chevelle was an extensively used body style in NASCAR competition from 1973 to 1977. The Chevelle Laguna in particular was extremely successful allowing Cale Yarborough to win 34 races and earn the first two of three consecutive Grand National championships. Considered a limited edition model by NASCAR, the Laguna S-3 was ineligible for competition following the 1977 season.

Motor Trend said in 1973: "While neither Chevrolet or Pontiac are back in racing, the new crop intermediates out of GM's styling studios are curiously aerodynamic. They are also curiously competing on the NASCAR circuit tracks, and selling as fast as they can be hauled to the dealerships."

October 21, 1973: American 500-Benny Parsons pits for repairs after an early crash. The help of several teams allow him to get back into the race and finish 28th. Parsons and his Chevelle hold on to win the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National champ­ionship. Parsons took the points lead with a third-place finish at Talladega Speedway in early May and never gave up the lead. He held off a late rally by Cale Yarborough to win by only 67.15 points.

August 1976: Cale Yarborough drove his #11 Junior Johnson/Holly Farms Chevelle to the 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National championship. Yarborough won nine races along the way to the first of three consecutive titles. He finished last in the Daytona 500, but assumed command of the points chase in August. Yarborough beat Richard Petty by 195 points.

February 20, 1977: Daytona 500-Cale Yarborough Chevelle pulls away from Benny Parsons Chevelle in the final laps to win in his second Daytona 500. Cale Yarborough was running at the finish in all 30 NASCAR Winston Cup races as he dominated the 1977 season to wrap up his second consecutive title. Yarborough won nine races in 30 starts in his #11 Chevelle and finished 386 points ahead of runner-up Richard Petty.

Source: Wikipedia
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