Home Car Stories One Family 1967 PONTIAC Acadian Canso- Duncan
1967 PONTIAC Acadian Canso- Duncan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Tuesday, 27 October 2015 19:54

1967 PONTIAC Acadian Canso- Duncan


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown. Much appreciation to Sam Tremblay of Tremblay Motors Ltd for his referral.

67 pontiac acadian canso duncan logo

The Acadian car line name was used solely in Canada. The Canso name refers to an upscale trim level available on the Acadian line.

67 pontiac acadian canso duncan logo 2

The story of the Canadian exclusive Acadian series is a bit complicated. The factors leading up to the creation of this car trace back many years. For years Canadian Pontiacs were hybrid cars created on the economy plan in response to some tricky pricing parameters in the low to medium priced car market. Canadian built Pontiacs used Pontiac body and interior styling applied to Chevrolet chassis and drivetrains.

67 pontiac acadian canso duncan driver 3 4 view

If you wanted to buy a Pontiac and lived in the USA the price was just a smidge above Chevrolet. USA buyers couldn't get enough of these cars and USA Pontiac dealers sold large volumes of Pontiacs in this special price slot.

Everything was different up in Canada.

67 pontiac acadian canso duncan front

Canadian dealerships missed out on the USA spec Pontiacs because Canada couldn't justify importing these cars. Export tax inflated the price of the Pontiacs out of their medium price bracket obliterating their pricing 'sweet spot'. The GM final assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario couldn't set aside a separate line to build Pontiacs because Canada didn't have enough demand for Pontiacs to devote a separate line to them. Canada couldn't import them economically nor could they build them economically.

67 pontiac acadian canso duncan side angle

What to do? The solution was for Oshawa final assembly to build 'Canadian Pontiacs' right on the same assembly line where the high volume Chevrolets were built. The Canadian Pontiacs used a Chevrolet chassis and drivetrain spruced up with the Pontiac dash and steering wheel and interior themes topped off with some Pontiac style body panels outside.

67 pontiac acadian canso duncan driver side

Whenever the USA Pontiac Division created a new car to address a particular market segment the Canadian assembly line searched to find a way to offer a similar car up north. The first version of the USA built Pontiac Tempest was a compact car meant to compete with the imports. Pontiac fitted the Tempest with radical engineering such as sawing a 389 V8 engine in half to create a tough 4 cylinder standard engine for their new compact. Pontiac used a rear transaxle and rope drive which was quite experimental at the time. The Tempest body was based on the Chevrolet Corvair.

67 pontiac acadian canso duncan driver s rear

When GM Canada set out to create a Canadian version of the Tempest they skipped the Corvair body and selected the larger Chevy II platform as the starting point and thus changed the entire 'flavor' of the car. The Chevy II was a 'quickie' budget car not only in final consumer cost but also in its behind the scenes development. The Chevy II was a return to 'the basics' for GM.

Both GM and Chrysler learned a bitter lesson when they lost out on sales to Ford when they stuck their necks out by designing their compact lineups with 'European' type technology. Chrysler powered the Valiant with an excellent slant 6 engine that straightened out and lengthen the intake runners which squeezed more economy and power out of the engine. GM went wild emulating the VW Bug with the Corvair using independent rear suspension, and a rear air cooled engine. Oldsmobile's compact F-85 had supercharging and the Buick Special was available with the first domestic V6. Pontiac's Tempest is discussed above.

Ford beat everyone in sales using old humdrum technology in the Falcon. GM lost no time in launching a 'back to basics' compact to counter the Falcon. That answer to the Falcon was the Chevy II.

Oshawa final assembly took the 1962 Chevy II chassis and drivetrain and decorated it with Pontiac styling touches and named this nice little car the Acadian. The Acadian was available in 3 trim levels starting with plain Acadian, upscale Invader and top trim level Beaumont. Similarly to the USA debut of the Valiant the first year of the Acadian didn't overtly mention Pontiac. Soon enough the car was referred to as the Pontiac Acadian.

General Motors of Canada wanted to preserve the Pontiac image of their Canadian built Pontiacs despite the Chevrolet underpinnings. GM circulated a reminder to USA Pontiac dealerships that when a tourist driving a Canadian Pontiac came in for service at the Pontiac dealership to outsource the Chevrolet parts from a local Chevy dealership and bill it back to GM. The USA dealers had been referring Canadian Pontiac customers to Chevrolet dealers for service and GM felt this undermined the Pontiac image of the cars.

The confusion surrounding Canadian Pontiacs became deeper when the compact USA built Tempest was enlarged to an intermediate sized car for the 1964 model year. GM Canada decided to keep the Acadian going on the Chevy II platform while simultaneously creating a Canadian intermediate Pontiac. To guarantee more confusion the Beaumont name was transferred from the Acadian where it formerly resided as a top level trim designation. Now the Beaumont name was a model name that referred to the intermediate sized Canadian Pontiac built using the Chevrolet Chevelle platform.

This left the top trim name designation of the Acadian vacant. The Beaumont top trim level was replaced with the name Canso. If my readers have made it through all these twists and turns so far the hard part is over! The story of this particular 1967 Acadian is pretty straight forward.

In spring of 1967 a school teacher named Helen needed a new car. Her 7 year old Ford Falcon was on its last legs. Two teenaged kids had been beating on it in addition to doing duty as a daily driver for Helen's work. Helen paid a visit to Carter Pontiac Buick which at the time was located right in the Kerrisdale area of Vancouver, British Columbia. See a story on Carter in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website. Helen's salesman was Ron Oates. Ron is the son of the well known car dealer Lawson Oates.

Buying towards the end of the model year Helen scored a decent deal on a new 1967 Pontiac Acadian Canso. Her choice of Canso was influenced by the presence of her son, Duncan who came with her to the dealership. Duncan steered Helen away from her practical choice of 4 door post Acadian in favor of the sportier hardtop 2 door Canso.

Helen made a yearly trip to a family lodge owned by her grandfather in Haliburton, Ontario. Helen saw an interesting opportunity to combine her annual vacation trip with the acquisition of her new Acadian. After flying out to Ontario for her vacation Helen picked up her new Pontiac Acadian Canso right from the Oshawa, Ontario final assembly line. Helen showed off her new car to all her friends from back east and used it for her vacation then drove her new car home across the country. That fun trip also saved her on delivery costs. The Protect-O-Plate records the official date the car was first placed in service as May 18, 1967.

The trip from Oshawa was so fun that the following year the process was repeated when Helen's son Duncan bought a 1968 Pontiac Beaumont. He and Helen picked that car up from the Oshawa final assembly line and drove it back in summer 1968.

Helen's new 1967 Pontiac Acadian Canso had a straight 6 and automatic transmission but few options. It had a radio and heater. An interesting detail of the car is the door locks. Instead of the usual push pull knobs which were used on the Beaumont and other GM built cars, the Acadian had lock knobs mounted low in the door panel. The knobs are twist knobs which make breaking in just as difficult as on a modern vehicle.

The Acadian had an easy life except for one incident early in it's life. Helen opened the driver's door and was hit by a passing car. The driver's door was replaced early in the history of the car.

Helen drove the car minimally. Her work and grocery shopping errands were all within a short distance of her home. The furthest trip she took (other than the initial cross country pick up) was up to Barkerville, B.C. At the time the road up there was unpaved and the Acadian was caked with mud from the trip. Helen also visited friends on Vancouver Island.

On April 10, 1968 the Acadian received its first service at 4,453 miles. In the Protect-O-Plate book the dealer skipped the first service page simply because the car hadn't needed service yet at the first service date. Another page was skipped before the car came back again March 7, 1969 for its second service at 8,856 miles.

The car was mainly trouble free although the starting motor packed it in very early in the history of the car. Helen was visiting family for a Sunday dinner. When she went out to start the car it wouldn't turn over. Luckily her eldest son was mechanically inclined. She left the car at his house while he went out and bought a replacement starting motor. Installing it on a straight 6 engine was a breeze and the car was fine after that hiccup. It is interesting that many Pontiacs profiled on this website (including Canadian Pontiacs which use Chevrolet mechanical parts!) have a history of hard starting when hot which leads to starting motor failures at low mileage.

After 14 years with the Acadian Helen was starting to find the manual steering too much to deal with at her advancing age. She bought a new Ford Tempo and handed the Acadian over to her son, Duncan. He had a daily driver so the Acadian received minimal mileage as his second car. Helen averaged about 4,000 miles per year for the 14 years she had the car. The Acadian currently only shows 84,900 original miles after 48 years.

Duncan didn't have a place to store the car so he kept it in his mother's parking spot at her apartment building which preserved it from the weather. He took the car out on a regular basis to keep it running and in shape. Just as his mother Helen had found the manual steering to be hassle Duncan quickly tired of it. He located a power steering unit in a junkyard and installed it on the Acadian. Otherwise he left the car original. Unfortunately thieves didn't leave it that way. Someone stole the crests off the car and the crest from the horn button. Duncan found replacement crests at junkyards. The horn cap on the car is currently not exactly correct for the car. It doesn't match the original and needs a bit of tape inside to shim it to fit.

In 1993 Duncan had the car repainted. He found a Subaru color that closely matched the original color. Comparing the door jambs and inner quarters which still have original paint it is clear that this color is very close to original. While the car was repainted the bumpers were rechromed. The front headlight bezels were replaced with a nice used pair. The top 'points' of the bezels stick out. This vulnerability in the original design resulted in the originals getting dented in during the life of the car. One lower piece of chrome on the base of the passenger door had been crunched in somehow. A wrecking yard provided a piece of chrome off a Chevelle that matched in style and size but not length since the doors are different lengths. The bodyman trimmed the used piece of chrome to fit.

Incredibly, the car wasn't tuned up for 25 years but still ran fine until winter of 2015. At this time it finally was treated to a tune up and new hoses. The transmission failed from sitting or some other mysterious cause and needed replacement. The original radiator is still with the car. It was reconditioned but is otherwise still fine.

67 pontiac acadian canso duncan rear

The Acadian now has a new dipstick after a garage lost it following a routine oil change. The front end parts were replaced and the car steers and handles as good as new again.


Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 November 2015 23:06 )