Autopolis

The cars we loved.

1966–1969 GM Beaumont: When A Chevy is Not Really One


1967 GM Beaumont SD396

1967 GM Beaumont SD396

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.

1967 Beaumont Custom Convertible

1967 Beaumont Custom Convertible

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.

1967 Beaumont Custom Sedan

1967 Beaumont Custom Sedan

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.

1968 GM Beaumont SD396 Interior

1968 GM Beaumont SD396 Interior

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.

1968 GM Beaumont Convertible SD396

1968 GM Beaumont Convertible SD396

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26 comments on “1966–1969 GM Beaumont: When A Chevy is Not Really One

  1. Dwight Hargrove
    January 15, 2014

    Just a couple of corrections to your article. The brand is spelled “Acadian”. It was a brand unto itself, not in any way a Pontiac, although sold at Pontiac/Buick dealers in Canada. There were 3 engines available, 4cyl, 6cyl and V8 all called Econo-Flame. The 4cyl was only available in the base Acadian which was the same platform as a ChevyII

    • autopolis
      January 16, 2014

      Thanks for the catching that!

  2. Pat McEuen
    March 21, 2014

    Acadian was more like a nova. Beaumonts were like chevelles. I liked their looks. The Beaumont SD 396 of course had the 396 engines. I saw a big body Parisianne
    With a chev 409.

  3. Dwight Hargrove
    March 23, 2014

    Actually, the model name Beaumont started out as the top of the line Acadian based on the ChevyII. In ’64, Beaumont became a separate series based on the Chevelle platform. It was still marketed under the Acadian brand and therefore was technically still called the Acadian Beaumont.

    The full size Canadian Pontiacs were available with all the same engines as Chevrolet. The only exception to this was pre-’63 where the six cylinder was larger and was a variant of the GMC truck engine.

  4. autopolis
    March 23, 2014

    I think it’s safe to say at its height, the Beaumont was just another variation of the GM’s A body.

    • Pat McEuen
      March 27, 2014

      It might be interesting to note that (I’m going back a long time–hope I am right) the big body Poniacs were on a Chevy chassis. As I recall the wide track Pontiacs were in the US only. I was in Canada for awhile — I drove a Fargo (Dodge sold thru Plymouth-Chrysler deslers and for awhile we drove an american Valiant (only one I saw in B.C.–the Canadian Valiants had a Valiant front end and a Dodge Dart rear end. Being a car and truck nut, I really enjoyed the variety of cars (big and litte Mercury trucks) –and many variants of Ford and Mercury cars. I’m kind of getting off track, but I often wished these variants could have been offered here. I really liked the Beaumont, I believe it was the SD 396–basically a Semi customized Chevelles SS 396 with GTO type instrument panel, different seat pattern etc. When I left Prince Rupert BC to head home, a friend gave me a ride in his new SS396 Camaro. It was a rare car there at the time. I hope I didn’t get too far off or bore anyone.

  5. Kevin Cheyne
    March 29, 2014

    Was looking at some articles on Beaumont history and …Hey!! That’s my car! The grey SD with the stripe.Cool to see.Certainly are car that confuses our American friends…some thinking it’s a “tricked out” Chevelle ha! Super rare as only 451 Beaumont SD’s were produced in1967.Definitely feel fortunate to own this car,not many left and as you can imagine parts and trim pieces are next to impossible to find.

    • autopolis
      April 1, 2014

      What a lucky guy – that’s a beautiful and rare machine! You should be proud.

    • Back Eddy
      February 11, 2016

      Hi Kevin,
      My first car as an 18 year old boy growing up in Saskatchewan Canada was a 2 door ’67 Beaumont with a 283 cubic inch V8 with a 2 speed auto Powerglide transmission which specially was built for the Canadian market. I bought it used with 50,000 mi in ’74 for $1200. Interestingly, my Beaumont was equipped with bucket seats and a floor shifter and had some of the options from the SD model. Even though it was severely underpowered off the line because of the transmission, it was a nice car to drive. However, I always wanted the SD model which you have. I didn’t know that only 451 were built. I suppose that is the reason that now I can afford to purchase one, some 50 years later, they are very hard to find. Good for you!

  6. Ron Heiman
    January 25, 2015

    did Pontiac ever make a Beaumont based El Camino?

    • autopolis
      January 27, 2015

      I don’t think so. As far as I know there was never any kind of Pontiac ute sold anywhere. They came close around 2009 with a concept based on a Holden Commodore SS Ute (our G8 version in El Camino form). They even had a naming contest but decided not to bring it over as the company would be dismantled a year later.

      • BR
        September 12, 2016

        There is no Commodore Ute. They are a Holden SS Ute, based upon the Commodore sedan and wagon. Calling them a Commodore ute is like for example calling an El Camino a Chevelle Ute.
        I am of the opinion that the HQ Holden and Statesman sold here in Australia was originally to be the 1970 Beaumont but as GM were rationalising in the later 60’s for 1970 they stopped selling specific Canadian vehicles and simply sold US design vehicles. We think that GM gave GMH (General Motors-Holden’s) the semi-complete design around 1967-8 as a coupe, sedan, wagon and utility and GMH finished off the design adding a SWB sedan, panel van (ute with a roof) and cab-chassis. The GM designed sedan became the Statesman, and the Utility probably would have been a Beaumont Utility (GM Canada’s version of the El-Camino). The HQ Holden and Statesman were such a radical departure from anything ever done by GMH, and were designed and Engineered in 2 years which is virtually impossible for it to have been a clean-slate design, it had to have been at least 60-70% complete when they started.

      • autopolis
        September 15, 2016

        My bad. I thought “ute” was a common (Australian) term for a vehicle like America’s El Camino. As used, it could have been a Ford, Holden, Toyota or whatever.Maybe you got so wrapped up about utes that you forgot that the article was about a Canadian car, the Beaumont.

    • Dwight Hargrove
      January 27, 2015

      There was the GMC Sprint from ’71-’77 which was a variant of the El Camino. It was sold at Pontiac/Buick/GMC dealers in Canada. I believe it was available on both sides of the border though.

  7. Back Eddy
    October 7, 2015

    The Beaumonts were definitely rare from that era. I owned a ’67 two door coupe with a 283 CI engine and an automatic 2 speed powerglide tranny. I bought it for $1200 in 1975. Not a showstopper at the track, but the 283 would start in any weather and was a workhorse motor. I’d love to find another and always on the lookout for the Sport Deluxe model with the 396, but they were, and are very difficult to find.

  8. robert proulx
    January 25, 2016

    As per engine names i’m curious on the econo name…..I remember seeing the Pontiac brochure for the 66 Pontiac laurentian that my uncle had and for Canadian names the big blocks were called astro-jet…cant confirm small block though

    • Dwight Hargrove
      January 26, 2016

      As one of my previous comments points out, Acadian was a separate car line from the Canadian Pontiac, hence the different names for engines. The Acadian engines were all called Econo-Flame wether they were a six or a V8.. Full size Canadian Pontiac called their six cylinder the Strato-Six or Astro-Six, depending on model year. Small block V8 engines were called Strato-Flash for the 283 and Astro-Flash for the 327. Starting in ’63 the Pontiacs with the 409 were called Super-Flame. In later years, Astro-Jet was used for the 396 and I believe also the 427 and 454 V8.

  9. Joe lizon
    February 29, 2016

    We own 2 of the RAREST Beaumonts ever built in Canada. They 1965 Acadian Beaumont Sport Deluxe L79 Cars. GM documentation shows only 23 of these Beaumonts were built with the Special high Performance L79 (327ci/350hp) Corvette Engines, research shows only 6 still remain.

  10. William Hershkowitz
    May 31, 2016

    A four speed automatic was never offered by any GM automobile during the 1960s. These were introduced in the early 1980s to improve fuel economy and provide better flexibility for engines that had reduced horsepower due to emissions requirements.

    • autopolis
      May 31, 2016

      That’s true. The article should have said “3 speed auto and 4 speed manual transmission”. Thanks for catching that.

    • Vanessa Seebaluck
      December 22, 2016

      Hi I’ve just acquired a 4 door hardtop beaumont sedan of 1968 with an automatic gear box I have been told 3 speed but I don’t seem to hear the transmission of the changing of gears! The shift gear is on the steering wheel and apart from neutral I can feel 2 more gear shifts but I don’t know…..can you help please….

      • David V
        March 1, 2017

        You have what is known as a 2 speed Powerglide transmission. Drag racers love these transmissions as they are bulletproof.

      • Vanessa seebaluck
        March 7, 2017

        Thank you David for that. It’s put my mind at rest. So seems she a great car then…don’t know how much racing I’ll be doing though.
        Do you know which website or on line shops I would get the spare parts that I need to get her back in shape? Would be very much obliged. And thank you again.
        Best.

      • william hershkowitz
        April 2, 2017

        Check the shift qudrant. 3-speed automatic (Turbo Hydra-Matic) quadrants will read “Park R N D L2 L1” for the column shift, or for the floor shift, “P R N 3 2 1.”
        2-speed auto (Powerglide) will show “Park R N D L.”

    • Dwight Hargrove
      December 23, 2016

      You are correct in that there was not any 4 speed overdrive automatic offered during the 60’s. However there was a 4 speed Hydramatic used in the larger GM cars. It was introduced in 1948 in Oldsmobile, updated in 1956 and was pretty much replaced by the Turbo Hydramatic 400 3 speed by 1964.

      • william hershkowitz
        April 2, 2017

        That’s true, Dwight. But that tranny didn’t have a torque converter, only a fluid coupling, hence the need for the 4 speeds. A torque converter adds a lot of flexibility to the coupling’s ability to “emulate” multiple gear ratios, over a plain fluid coupling. And, Hydra-Matic was introduced in the 1940 Oldsmobile, and the 1941 Caddy. By 1948 it was also offered in Pontiacs as well.

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This entry was posted on March 13, 2013 by in 60's Cars, Beaumont, General Motors and tagged , , , , , , .
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