But the 1973 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna line was the big news for the year. With their resilient urethane integral front bumper/grille surround, distinctive diecast grid-pattern grille with built-in round park lamps, and faux wood accents inside, Lagunas presented not only a new look, but new luxury to the Chevelle buyer.
The new 1973 Chevelle Laguna coupe was a
runaway popularity champ.
Uplevel options available for Lagunas (and certain other Chevelles) included new swiveling Strato-bucket front seats, a power Sky Roof retracting metal panel, and the urethane-faced Turbine I wheels from the SS station wagon package.
The Laguna was positioned to take on the upper end of the intermediate market, which in those dog-eat-dog days openly included the other GM intermediates. Outside the corporate domain, face-lifted Ford Torinos and restyled Plymouth Satellites were among the 1973 competitors.
In late 1973, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) drastically reduced the flow of imported oil to the U.S. This action triggered long lines and soaring prices for the limited supply of gasoline, and had an immediate impact on the new-car market. When the 1974 Chevelle line was released in September 1973, it may have been just as well that the SS package was gone.
The new sporting Chevelle for 1974 was the Laguna Type S-3, which combined Laguna luxury with the superior road manners of the SS. Handling was further enhanced with the addition of new GR70-15 radial-ply tires. The Type S-3 and all other Chevelles with available 70-series radials included radial-tuned suspension components.
Swing-out bucket seats, introduced for 1973,
remained an option for the 1974 Laguna.
The 454-cubic-inch V-8, now rated at 235 horsepower, was again available in all models, and could still be had with a close-ratio four-speed (or automatic) transmission. It was not, however, available in California this year. The wide-ratio four-speed offered for the 350 V-8 was gone, however.
The 307 V-8 went away, but a new 400-cubic-inch small block V-8 option was offered with two-barrel carburetion everywhere but in California and a four-barrel carb for California only. The same carburetion restrictions applied to the 350 V-8. A new High-Energy Ignition system for the 400 and 454 V-8s became available mid-year.
Even with its still considerable torque, the big 454 did not make for an especially lively Chevelle. This was due in part to the car's sheer bulk. (An enthusiast magazine noted its 454-powered Type S-3 test car weighed more than 4,600 pounds.) The result was mid-16-second quarter-mile runs at around 87 mph-competitive for the era, but still disheartening.
Another new feature of the early-1970s automotive landscape was the federal Environmental Protection Agency's posting of fuel economy figures. The EPA city rating for the 1974 Chevelle 454 with a four-speed was 7.6 miles per gallon. Even the six-cylinder models were good for only about 16 miles per gallon.
For more on the 1974 Chevelle, continue to the next page.
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