The cars we loved.
Back when the American muscle car era was in its late period bloom, American manufactures were hampered in how they could sell new cars across the border to Canada or Mexico. Before 1965, the Auto Pact (APTA) offered plenty of reasons as to why a Michigan built Chevy could not be sold in Ontario. To get around those stipulations GM built versions of their cars for the Canadian market in Canada under different brands. One example from GM’s “across the border” brand portfolio was Acadian. It was a brand that essentially blended Chevy and Pontiac virtues. What started out as a name built around a single car grew from being a Nova clone. The Acadian could be described as a Nova with Pontiac styling. Its logo was the Pontiac arrow with a maple leaf to imply its dual heritage from both sides of Lake Ontario. After 1965 the line expanded to include a new model whose name had been a feature range before on loaded Arcadians called Beaumont.
The 1966 GM Beaumont would be based on the American Chevy Chevelle. It looked much like one except that it had more restrained styling. Think of Pontiac muscle with Buick elegance and you have pretty much summed up the Beaumont. They were even sold at some Buick/Pontiac dealers, usually in “Custom” or “Deluxe” trims. The range closely followed the Chevelle in that there were coupes, sedans and a station wagon. Of the coupes there was a convertible and hardtop, often seen with an optional vinyl top. The sedan and station wagon could be ordered with the Super Econoflame 327 V8 with (275 hp) with 3 automatic or four speed manual transmissions. They are apparently rare considering that most of the Beaumont body types were built as hardtop coupes. All of the Beaumont’s ever built equal a fraction of Chevelle’s churned out by Chevy, which might explain why so few people have heard of GM’s mid sized Canadian car.
It’s also interesting to see how GM marketed this car in contrast to the Chevelle and LeMans when they all shared parts and looked so similar. For instance the Beaumont came with the full line of engine options that one could get typically on a Chevelle. That included the 350 hp big block 396 V8. While Chevy called theirs the “Turbo-Jet”, Beaumonts were labeled “Econo-Jet” as if the French-speaking parts of Canada were enough reason to take the high road in marketing to Canada. In fact all of the engine options of the Beaumont started with the word “Econo”. Depending on how frugal you were, your Econo was either a “Flame” for six cylinders or “ Jet” for the 8’s. Even the most powerful Beaumont, the rare and sought after Sport Deluxe (SD) 396, lack the over the top ornamentation commonly found on some American Chevy, Pontiac or Buick muscle cars in America. The only concession to tire burning flash could be seen on the hood in the form of a protruding tach on the SD396 or the occasional racing stripe.
The parts sharing continued inside with a dash from the Pontiac Tempest/Lemans/GTO. The rest was typical GM with new style push button seatbelts on slim bucket seats. Beyond the sound of the muffled engine under all the extra sound insulation, the AM radio was the only entertainment option. By choosing the Sport Option, Beaumont buyers could graduate from a column mounted shifter to a smart-looking full center console. The console highlighted a four speed automatic transmission. Lesser models used 2 speed Powerglide or 3 speed Turbo-Hydromatic transmissions. Three or four speed manuals were offered in V8 models. The rear wheel driven Beaumont looked like other body on frame A-body car underneath. It featured a full coil suspension (independent with stabilizer bar in front) and optional power front disc brakes. A heavy-duty suspension with a Positronic rear axle was also available for V8 equipped models.
Canada was not the only market to have the Beaumont. They were also built and sold in Chile while Canadian made cars were sold in Puerto Rico where they are likely to have survived rust if not daily use. The Beaumont represents one of the more low-key moments in GM’s muscle car history that sadly few people will ever see in person due to the rarity of road worthy examples.