Ever since I scored the “Dirty Cougar” Mercury off of Facebook Marketplace for what is honestly a steal, I’ve been surfing around seeing what’s on there. The downside of Marketplace, compared to the trusty old Craigslist, is that you can only cast a narrow net, about 100 miles from the center of wherever you chose to look. The benefit, however, is that a lot of people can’t be bothered to put up a Craigslist ad, but have no trouble posting to Facebook, especially for lower-cost items. That’s how I found a $400 5.0-powered Fox body that is driving on the roads three days three days after I started wrenching on it. So I started digging through my favorite vehicle hunting spots and while perusing around Colorado Springs, I found this gem, a 1976 Chevrolet Laguna S-3. The Laguna was the hot-ticket item if you wanted a sporty Chevelle in the mid-1970s, as the company tried their best to distance themselves from the Super Sport cachet of all-out monster performance. It was also where the body modifications that had to be homologated for NASCAR use wound up appearing, hence the sloped nose. They aren’t fast in factory form, but the 1973-77 GM A-bodies are plenty useable and can tuck a ton of tire without even considering mini-tubs. The engine bay is plenty cavernous, too, and in their own way these cars are kind of handsome. They fared the 1970s better than sone cars did.
This Laguna qualifies for our $5,000 Rough Start budget, coming in $1,000 cheaper. That’s not bad for a 350/auto Laugna that looks period-perfect, if a little worn. But look closer and you’ll see a problem point: hail damage. Colorado Springs tends to get hail every now and then with the storms that come rolling over the Rocky Mountains, sometimes in tiny pellet form, other times in full-on “It’s The Apocalypse, Charlie Brown!” mode. Unfortunately for the Chevelle, it wasn’t parked outside when it was just dainty little pellets and the body has suffered a bit as a result. Now might be a good time to figure out if you’d want to learn how to perform paintless dent repair…spend the $70 or so on one of those glue-type pullers and see how far you can get. Or go straight to the big-block swap and worry about the dents after your wallet has recovered from that hit!