Custom Cruise Friday
There is a special bond between young men and their cars. Not many of them last more than 40 years. Harry Leasak of Edmonton is in that rare group. He purchased a 1974 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-3 from Don Wheaton in July of the same year and the car has stayed with him ever since. Like many of the classic rides profiled in the Custom Cruise Friday series, there was a time when the Laguna was relegated to dormancy. Leasak started restoring the car, doing as much of the work himself as possible, in 1995. He finished, for now, in 2001.
“It made me stand out in Hinton,” Leasak said. “I was the only guy with a car like this.”
The beginning of a love affair
A common thread among car owners who hold on to their vehicles for a long time is that they usually come by car seemingly by luck. Leasak was in the market for a new car due to circumstances beyond his control. Reading a fortunately placed article in a car magazine and a trip into Edmonton from his home in Hinton, were among the events that conspired to bring Leasak together with his Laguna Type S-3.
“I was reading a car magazine about the Chevelle Lagune S-3,” Leasak said. “It blew me away. I read it many times that winter.”
General Motors produced the Laguna Type S-3 from 1974 until 1976. Leasak’s car is a sport model which replaced the Malibu SS.
“I put about 100,000 miles on it, some of them rough miles,” Leasak said. “(I was) a young guy with a heavy foot.”
He has a story about making a trip of more than 400 miles in just over six hours. Doing the math will reveal what an accomplishment this run really was.
Sometime in 1984, Leasak decided he was going to get a new car and trade-in the Laguna. The salesperson he was working talked him out of it.
“The salesman said he couldn’t offer me what the car was really worth,” Leasak said. “He said I would be better off to keep it and try to sell it privately.”
It was then that the car was stored in Leasak’s backyard.
The restoration process
In 1995, Leasak decided he wanted to drive the car again. Unfortunately, time and moisture had rusted out the exhaust of the Laguna. Not wanting to bother the neighbors, he started to restore the car. This involved almost completely disassembling the car and taking the frame off the body. It took about five winters of work to get the car ready to get back on the road. While Leasak was working on the car he cleaned all the mud and dirt which accumulates on vehicles as well as stripping the paint completely down to the bare metal.
Over the years, he added a few more modern features to make driving the 1974 Chevelle Laguna Type S-3 a little more convenient. He added power locks, air conditioning and a new stereo that had an AM and FM radio. Many parts were found in scrap yards, which also provided a great learning tool on how not to destroy his own car during restoration.
It’s about the go, not the show
Leasak doesn’t own the car to take his classic Chevy around from car show to car show. He has, however, made some appearances at the Rockin’ August Show and Shine in St. Albert. Given the rare nature of the Chevelle Laguna Type S-3, crowds naturally gather around him and the car with the observers eager to share the memories that come flooding back.
“We were amazed how many people stopped by and wanted to talk about the car,” Leasak said.
Even as the owner of the car, Leasak isn’t immune to the same bouts of nostalgia, especially when it comes to the original article that started it all.
“When I read that article, they called it ‘A gentleman’s car,'” Leasak said. “I thought, ‘Oh boy, that’s for me.”
If you have classic or special vehicle that you would like to see profiled in a Custom Cruise Friday blog post, please send some photos and pertinent information to Don Wheaton Brand Manager, Larissa Kho, by email email@example.com.