NOT A CHEV­ELLE

L79-Pow­ered Aca­dian Beau­mont Sport Deluxe Is 1 of 23

Muscle Car Review - - Con­tents -

L79-pow­ered Aca­dian Beau­mont Sport Deluxe is 1 of 23

With all the po­lit­i­cal talk about trade pacts and free-trade agree­ments among coun­tries around the globe, it’s worth re­mem­ber­ing a time when tar­iffs weighed heav­ily in the cross-bor­der com­merce be­tween the United States and Canada, par­tic­u­larly when it came to au­to­mo­biles. With roughly a tenth of the pop­u­la­tion of the United States, Canada was un­der­stand­ably pro­tec­tive of its man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try in the early decades of ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion. Chevro­let car pro­duc­tion in 1955 is a great ex­am­ple. In the States, it to­taled more than 1.77 mil­lion ve­hi­cles, while in Canada it was a lit­tle less than 63,000, only about 3 per­cent of the U.S. out­put.

To pro­tect its home in­dus­try, Canada levied taxes on im­ports, mak­ing it im­prac­ti­cal to ship cars from the U.S. So Detroit’s au­tomak­ers set up sub­sidiary com­pa­nies and built ve­hi­cles for Canada in Cana­dian assem­bly plants. Those sub­sidiaries dif­fer­en­ti­ated their line­ups and of­fered a num­ber of unique mod­els, from Mer- cury trucks to the Pon­tiac Pathfinder. The Big Three even es­tab­lished dis­tinct ve­hi­cle lines in Canada, in­clud­ing Fargo (Dodge) trucks, Me­teor (Ford) cars, and Gen­eral Mo­tors’ con­tri­bu­tion to Cana­dian car build­ing: Aca­dian.

Launched in 1962 as its own brand, Aca­dian was mostly aligned with Pon­tiac and Buick deal­ers. Cana­dian Pon­tiac mod­els al­ready blended some Chevro­let hard­ware, and the first Aca­dian mod­els upped the ante with Chevy II–based plat­forms fit­ted with unique grilles and other trim, as well as Chevro­let en­gines. That se­ries started with the en­try-level Aca­dian In­vader and topped out with the Beau­mont.

It got a lit­tle con­fus­ing when, in 1964, a Chev­elle-based Aca­dian Beau­mont joined the lineup. That made the Aca­dian Canso the top of the Chevy II–based se­ries, but in 1966 Beau­mont be­came its own brand, just like Aca­dian.

Re­gard­less of the model, Aca­di­ans and Beau­monts were not built in large num­bers. Pro­duc­tion ex­ceeded 20,000 units for a

cou­ple of years, but it was typ­i­cally less than that. They were rare when new and even more so half a cen­tury later.

Detroit-area en­thu­si­ast Joe Li­zon didn’t know a Beau­mont from a hockey puck when he at­tended a car show in Grand Bend, On­tario, more than 15 years ago. But he was schooled in their dis­tinc­tions by a soon-to-be good friend who urged him to ditch his dime-a-dozen Nova SS for a rare piece of Cana­dian A-Body his­tory. Shortly there­after, Joe’s garage har­bored a pair of 1965 Aca­dian Sport Deluxe hard­tops, both fac­tory equipped with the ul­tra­rare L79 327/350hp en­gine.

“I was re­ally in­trigued by the Aca­di­ans and had my friend Chris in Canada help me search for one,” says Joe. “Pretty quickly he lo­cated a Re­gal Red Beau­mont that hap­pened to be L79-pow­ered.”

Ex­cel­lent records kept by GM Canada show that of the 8,910 Aca­dian Beau­mont mod­els built in 1965, only 1,134 were V-8–pow­ered, top-trim Sport Deluxe mod­els (coupes and con­vert­ibles). Of them, only 23 were sent out the door at the Oshawa, On­tario, plant with the L79 en­gine. South of the bor­der, more than 6,000 Chev­elles were built with it.

“The car was still with the orig­i­nal owner, who had parked it years ear­lier af­ter blow­ing up the Muncie four-speed and 12-bolt axle,” says Joe. “I drove to On­tario to in­spect it, left him a de­posit, and re­turned the next day with a trailer.”

About a month later, that same friend called with a lead on an­other 1965 Sport Deluxe, also in On­tario. It was ad­ver­tised as an L78 car (the code for a 396 en­gine used in larger cars and the Corvette) but was ac­tu­ally an­other orig­i­nal L79 car. Joe wasted no time grab­bing it. He then had two of the 23 L79 coupes, both Re­gal Red, one with a red in­te­rior and the other with a black cabin. Only six of the 23 are known to ex­ist, and Joe’s cars are the only ones known to re­side in the U.S.

Joe had both of the cars re­stored, which re­quired pur­chas­ing sev­eral donor ve­hi­cles for sheet­metal and trim. The sec­ond car he bought (seen here) was orig­i­nally sold in Al­berta and suf­fered

rear-end dam­age that was re­paired with Chev­elle quar­ters. The prob­lem was the Aca­dian Beau­mont tail­lamps didn’t quite fit the smaller Chev­elle tail­lamp na­celles, so re-cre­at­ing the quar­ters with orig­i­nal Beau­mont sheet­metal was re­quired.

The restora­tion brought other chal­lenges, in­clud­ing vir­tu­ally un­ob­tain­able trim com­po­nents such as the “Aca­dian” let­ters for the tail panel. Joe ended up mak­ing molds and cast­ing them him­self. He even made sev­eral ex­tra sets, which he sold to help off­set the in­vest­ment. It also took lit­er­ally years to track down au­then­tic rocker mold­ings and wheel cov­ers, which look like Pon­tiac caps, but with­out “Pon­tiac Mo­tor Divi­sion” writ­ten around the edges of the cen­ter caps.

The grille is the most ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence be­tween the Chev­elle and the Beau­mont, while the rear panel on the trunk lid is also unique. Chrome-ac­cented “gills” on the quar­ter-pan­els, ahead of the rear wheels, were spe­cific to the high-end Sport Deluxe trim. The wear and tear on those parts, not to men­tion the gen­er­ally low qual­ity of the pot metal used to cast many trim items, makes find­ing suit­able used re­place­ments all the tougher.

In­side, the Aca­dian Beau­mont es­sen­tially used a 1965 Pon­tiac LeMans/GTO in­te­rior, in­clud­ing the dash­board, steer­ing wheel, and seats, but with a Chev­elle cen­ter con­sole and Aca­dian-branded trim on the steer­ing wheel, ra­dio, door pan­els, and more. The up­hol­stery pat­tern is also from the Pon­tiac mod­els, ex­cept for a sig­nif­i­cant de­tail: There was no em­bossed ar­row­head in­signia in the seat­backs. The Pon­cho up­hol­stery is read­ily avail­able. The Aca­dian ver­sion is not, so Joe had NOS Re­pro­duc­tions in Komoka, On­tario, pro­duce a set.

The car’s orig­i­nal 327 en­gine was long gone, but the orig­i­nal four-speed trans­mis­sion and 12-bolt Posi axle were still in place. Joe sourced an L79 with the cor­rect EC­code en­gine block from Cal­i­for­nia and had it as­sem­bled.

The 350-horse L79 was a sweet­heart of a small-block, driven by the “151” hy­draulic camshaft, so named for its 3863151 part num­ber. It was de­signed for the high­wind­ing ca­pa­bil­ity of the com­par­a­tively short-stroke 327. The 0.447/0.447-inch lift specs weren’t huge, but with the en­gine’s rpm ca­pa­bil­ity, it made ter­rific power at the up­per end of the tachome­ter. A lot of over-

“What kind of crazy Chev­elle is that?”

lap also gave it an au­thor­i­ta­tive idle qual­ity. No pesky lash ad­just­ments like those solidlifter-cam en­gines, ei­ther.

In­ter­est­ingly, the Aca­dian and Beau­mont lines were just hit­ting their re­spec­tive strides when Canada and the United States signed the Au­to­mo­tive Prod­uct Trade Agree­ment, also known as Au­topact, in 1965. The economies of scale in the U.S. were just too great to ig­nore, while the costs for com­pa­ra­ble ve­hi­cles in Canada were too high to sus­tain. The pact elim­i­nated the ma­jor­ity of cross­bor­der tar­iffs, open­ing the door to the trade model we have to­day.

As a re­sult of Au­topact, the uniquely Cana­dian Aca­dian and Beau­mont lines lasted only about a decade. The Chev­elle­based Aca­dian Beau­mont ended with the 1969 model year, while the Aca­dian name lived on for an­other cou­ple of years on a re­badged Nova, which was, iron­i­cally, built in the United States. Later, a Pon­tiac Aca­dian was of­fered from the mid-1970s through 1987. It was a re­badged Chevette, just like the U.S.-mar­ket Pon­tiac T1000.

Joe doesn’t hail from the Great White North, but he shares the legacy of these Cana­dian A-Bod­ies when­ever some­one asks, “What kind of crazy Chev­elle is that?”

By Barry Kluczyk

n Chev­elle front sheet­metal was com­ple­mented with Pon­tiac-style wheelcov­ers, mi­nus the Pon­tiac script around the spin­ner-style cen­ter caps.

The unique grille is the car’s most prom­i­nent iden­ti­fier. A closer look re­veals a large “A” for Aca­dian be­tween the grille halves, along with a trio of Cana­dian maple leaves be­low it.

n

n The Cana­dian Aca­dian Beau­mont is a fas­ci­nat­ing amal­ga­ma­tion of Pon­tiac, Chevro­let, and Aca­dian styling el­e­ments. At the rear, unique tail­lamps and trim panel dis­tin­guish the Beau­mont from a Chev­elle. Note the lack of backup lamps. They were op­tional, and this car doesn’t have them.

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