NOT A CHEVELLE
L79-Powered Acadian Beaumont Sport Deluxe Is 1 of 23
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?”
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 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.