This is a short history of the Canadian Pontiac models, from 1958 to the mid-1970's. These cars differed from their US Pontiac counterparts in that they were mechanically very similar to Chevrolets, with the same six- and eight-cylinder engines, including the famous Chevy small-block and (very rarely) big-block V-8 engines. They often had a mix of Pontiac and Chevrolet interior trim; reusing components meant GM could save money on making cars in a relatively small Canadian market.
All models were available at different times as 2-door hardtops, 4-door sedans, 4-door hardtops, 4-door "Safari" wagons (6- or 9-passenger), or 2-door convertibles. The different nameplates correspond to American Chevys as follows:
Sources - I am indebted to the following collector's groups for information on these automobiles:
- Beaumont - from 1962-63 this was a version of the Chevy II compact car, and was sold under the Acadian marque, not as a Pontiac. A period sales brochure for the Acadian Beaumont featured the slogan "Fresh, Frisky, Functional..." In 1964, the Beaumont joined the new Chevelle platform, and the Acadian name was gradually phased out. These later models are generally included in the Chevelle/El Camino family for the purposes of enthusiasts and collectors. Trim levels included the Custom, Deluxe, and Sport Deluxe.
- Strato Chief - based on the Chevy Biscayne, this model was at the low end of the full-size spectrum, but still had enough class in 1966 for standard "Magic-Mirror" finish coating on its body.
- Laurentian - a Bel Air clone from 1958 on, although the name was used into the late 1970's, after the Bel Air model was discontinued in the States.
- Parisienne - the top-of-the-line Canadian model, equivalent to the Impala. Although Pontiac sold a US model with this name in the 1980's, in Canada the car dates back to 1958 and the introduction of GM's full-size platform. The Grande Parisienne was the ultimate luxury model, available with the Strato-Flash 283 V-8; the 1966 Safari wagon had a storage capacity of 94.1 cubic feet!