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Ye Olde Pontiacs in England? (Or Australia?)


JamesR
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Hi. I can't remember where I got this brochure pic. It may have been from this forum, but probably from google images. Anyway, it's been on my computer desktop for a while, but I didn't notice one aspect of the pic til now...it shows a right hand drive interior. At first I thought it was a reversed pic, then I thought, I'll look for the word "color" in the text (the English spell it wrong ūüėĄ.) Sure enough it was "colour." Was it sold in England? Or was this likely an Australian or New Zealand car?

 

I thought the Laurentian was a Canadian Model. Maybe sold as such to the commonwealth. I know the engines got shuffled around for these models and this one seems to be a small block Chevy, rebadged. Specs are in small print. Thanks for clarification.

 

 

1961_Pontiac_Laurentian_04.jpg

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1 hour ago, JamesR said:

Hi. I can't remember where I got this brochure pic. It may have been from this forum, but probably from google images. Anyway, it's been on my computer desktop for a while, but I didn't notice one aspect of the pic til now...it shows a right hand drive interior. At first I thought it was a reversed pic, then I thought, I'll look for the word "color" in the text (the English spell it wrong ūüėĄ.) Sure enough it was "colour." Was it sold in England? Or was this likely an Australian or New Zealand car?

 

I thought the Laurentian was a Canadian Model. Maybe sold as such to the commonwealth. I know the engines got shuffled around for these models and this one seems to be a small block Chevy, rebadged. Specs are in small print. Thanks for clarification.

 

 

Certainly sold in Australia, but cant see any definitive details on the brochure. 

 

 

Quote

 

1961_Pontiac_Laurentian_04.jpg

 

Edited by hchris
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It is definitely an Australian market brochure, but Oshawa-assembled full-size Pontiacs were also sold in RHD form in the UK.  

 

I can be corrected, but looking at the interior illustration, the cars may have been assembled either at Holden in Australia or maybe even South Africa with local content.  Aside from the dash and door panels, I've never seen a '61 Laurentian interior like that here.

 

Craig

Edited by 8E45E (see edit history)
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7 hours ago, JamesR said:

Hi. I can't remember where I got this brochure pic. It may have been from this forum, but probably from google images. Anyway, it's been on my computer desktop for a while, but I didn't notice one aspect of the pic til now...it shows a right hand drive interior. At first I thought it was a reversed pic, then I thought, I'll look for the word "color" in the text (the English spell it wrong ūüėĄ.) Sure enough it was "colour." Was it sold in England? Or was this likely an Australian or New Zealand car?

 

I thought the Laurentian was a Canadian Model. Maybe sold as such to the commonwealth. I know the engines got shuffled around for these models and this one seems to be a small block Chevy, rebadged. Specs are in small print. Thanks for clarification.

 

 

1961_Pontiac_Laurentian_04.jpg

 

Pontiac???   Chevy engine, trans, rear end, frame, suspension--NO wide Track.  = Chevrolet ! 

I feel sorry for the people who didn't get to buy a REAL Pontiac.

Edited by Pfeil (see edit history)
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From 1946 to 1954 Canadian built Pontiacs used Chevrolet bodies with Pontiac flat head 6's.  From 1955 on they used Pontiac bodies with Chev running gear.

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Canadian Pontiacs were Chevrolets with Pontiac style sheet metal. Chev chassis, shorter wheelbase and narrower track than US Pontiacs, and Chevrolet engines and transmissions.

For tax reasons export sales to British Commonwealth countries were sourced from Canada - no import duties on trade between Commonwealth countries. I believe at the time the duty on imported cars to the UK was 25%, Australia New Zealand etc may have had similar taxes. In some cases export models were made in Canada because the Canadian plant was set up to make right hand drive, and other changes required for overseas sales.

 

Full size Pontiac models were Strato Chief, Laurentian and Parisienne in ascending order of costliness,  comparable to Chevy Biscayne, Bel Aire and Impala.

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This site, which is a work in progress, has some good info about the Australian GM cars of the post WW2 era.

 

Parisienne - Pontiac - Australian - Impala - Belair - Chevrolet (ozgm.com)

 

The page 'Info + photos' has the background story to the 1959 cars which explains the production process.

 

Put simply in the 1960s the Australian market cars arrived at the main General Motors Holdens plant in Woodville, South Australia in CKD (completely knocked down) packs, and were partially assembled there. From there they were railed to the various state capitals, as required, for completion. Just how much needed to be done in the state capitals I don't know. The id plates on the cars have the individual state codes.

 

In contrast, due I think mainly to the small numbers involved the New Zealand situation was quite different. The cars arrived SKD (semi Knocked down), with the bodies already assembled, and painted and trimmed, and all that was done in NZ was to add the mechanicals and fit the small number of local components - mainly the wiring, battery, heater and tyres. The SKD packs apparently came in lots of 24 so the import figures reflect that. New Zealand's car import figures in that era reflect how well our agricultural exports were doing and had nothing to do with demand. If export prices dropped then the allowable licence were reduced. New Zealand's imports of everything were heavily regulated, from 1938 when there was a major balance of payments crisis, until those change happened in the 1980s.   Until then there was always a shortage of cars in New Zealand. Even today, when there are plenty of cars available, the average age of our fleet is about 14 1/2 years, but that reflects the longevity of modern cars and the relatively low mileages that many people drive. I do less than 10,000 km (about 6,000 miles) a year myself.

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23 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Canadian Pontiacs were Chevrolets with Pontiac style sheet metal. Chev chassis, shorter wheelbase and narrower track than US Pontiacs, and Chevrolet engines and transmissions.

For tax reasons export sales to British Commonwealth countries were sourced from Canada - no import duties on trade between Commonwealth countries. I believe at the time the duty on imported cars to the UK was 25%, Australia New Zealand etc may have had similar taxes. In some cases export models were made in Canada because the Canadian plant was set up to make right hand drive, and other changes required for overseas sales.

 

Full size Pontiac models were Strato Chief, Laurentian and Parisienne in ascending order of costliness,  comparable to Chevy Biscayne, Bel Aire and Impala.

You are partly right  - see  my comment above re the NZ situation. The allowable imports of cars from North America had a lot to do with our dollar reserves. The tarriffs on cars from North America to NZ had nothing to with Canada being a commonwealth country, it had to do with the availability of right hand drive models. One thing that did do was allow the local Ford dealer in the 1930s to describe their ex-Canada cars as 'British'. I do know that post WW2 a few odd special order models were sourced ex the Tarrytown plant in New York as that plant was setup to supply small numbers of right hand drive models that the Canadian plants didn't make. 

 

There have been two local automobile history books published in recent years which go into some detail about the hoops the local importers had to go through in order to satisfy the government. It is a complicated story and probably only of interest to New Zealanders.

 

Edit - one thing I meant to add was in regard to the post WW2 era imports of GM cars, due to the small numbers involved there was only one model in one specification of car imported. Our Pontiacs were all Laurentian four door sedans with few 'extras'. Probably because of this the cars had no body data tag, only a 'chassis number' tag. Pontiac imports to NZ only started in 1959 when 99 six cylinder (261 cid) cars were imported. From 1960 until the last ones in 1968 they all had what ever was the standard line small block V8 that was coming out of the St Catherines plant - 283s then 307s. As I understand it 1968 was the last year that Canada supplied export CKD and SKD packs. About that time Australia had started making larger V8 cars and they were sourced for NZ to replace the previous North American models.

 

As I understand it a small amount of licence was issued in some years for a few CBU (completely built up) models. The reason for the small numbers of 'different' models that can be seen even today. The survival rate of 1950s and '60s GM cars in NZ is quite high as they were always regarded as something a bit special, even though in their home market they were just basic go to work cars. For some models the survival rate is as high as 10%.

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3 hours ago, nzcarnerd said:

This site, which is a work in progress, has some good info about the Australian GM cars of the post WW2 era.

 

Parisienne - Pontiac - Australian - Impala - Belair - Chevrolet (ozgm.com)

 

The page 'Info + photos' has the background story to the 1959 cars which explains the production process.

 

Put simply in the 1960s the Australian market cars arrived at the main General Motors Holdens plant in Woodville, South Australia in CKD (completely knocked down) packs, and were partially assembled there. From there they were railed to the various state capitals, as required, for completion. Just how much needed to be done in the state capitals I don't know. The id plates on the cars have the individual state codes.

 

In contrast, due I think mainly to the small numbers involved the New Zealand situation was quite different. The cars arrived SKD (semi Knocked down), with the bodies already assembled, and painted and trimmed, and all that was done in NZ was to add the mechanicals and fit the small number of local components - mainly the wiring, battery, heater and tyres. The SKD packs apparently came in lots of 24 so the import figures reflect that. New Zealand's car import figures in that era reflect how well our agricultural exports were doing and had nothing to do with demand. If export prices dropped then the allowable licence were reduced. New Zealand's imports of everything were heavily regulated, from 1938 when there was a major balance of payments crisis, until those change happened in the 1980s.   Until then there was always a shortage of cars in New Zealand. Even today, when there are plenty of cars available, the average age of our fleet is about 14 1/2 years, but that reflects the longevity of modern cars and the relatively low mileages that many people drive. I do less than 10,000 km (about 6,000 miles) a year myself.

 

Thanks for the great education. I learned a lot. You mentioned in your other post that that there weren't many extras on the early 60's Pontiacs sold in your part of the world, but am I correct in presuming that air conditioning was an essential? Some places in Australia are unbearably hot (by US standards) in the summer, though NZ apparently isn't as hot.

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10 hours ago, JamesR said:

 

Thanks for the great education. I learned a lot. You mentioned in your other post that that there weren't many extras on the early 60's Pontiacs sold in your part of the world, but am I correct in presuming that air conditioning was an essential? Some places in Australia are unbearably hot (by US standards) in the summer, though NZ apparently isn't as hot.

 

Definitely no aircon. If it got hot you opened a window. 

 

In that era the British stiff upper lip was still prevalent. That along with conservatism meant that anything considered 'flashy' wasn't really on the menu.

 

I am not sure when air con even became available on the Australian built big three cars but I suspect even in the 1970s only a few cars had it.

 

Here in NZ it was only with the advent of large numbers of second hand, well optioned, cars from Japan in the 1980s that air con became common. Prior to that all of our locally assembled cars were very basic. Oddly enough even today with most cars having air con many people don't know how to use it. They think it is only for keeping the car cool in the summer and don't realise it is a dehumidifier for winter use. Consequently they don't use it much and find that the system suffers leaking seals though under use.

 

Going back to the imports of US model cars; before WW2 when imports were not so restricted, many makes of American cars were imported and, apart from Fords, Chevs and Plymouths, practically all of them came from US plants, all of whom made right hand drive versions of their cars.

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16 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Canadian Pontiacs were Chevrolets with Pontiac style sheet metal. Chev chassis, shorter wheelbase and narrower track than US Pontiacs, and Chevrolet engines and transmissions.

For tax reasons export sales to British Commonwealth countries were sourced from Canada - no import duties on trade between Commonwealth countries. I believe at the time the duty on imported cars to the UK was 25%, Australia New Zealand etc may have had similar taxes. In some cases export models were made in Canada because the Canadian plant was set up to make right hand drive, and other changes required for overseas sales.

 

Full size Pontiac models were Strato Chief, Laurentian and Parisienne in ascending order of costliness,  comparable to Chevy Biscayne, Bel Aire and Impala.

Starting in 1966, the Grande Parisienne was introduced, which compared to the Chevrolet Caprice.  It had Grand Prix trim.  The 1967 model was rather interesting in that it was also available in a Safari besides two and four door hardtops.  Reportedly, the 1967 Grande Parisienne Safari was the first production station wagon in the world with concealed headlights.

 

Craig

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11 hours ago, nzcarnerd said:

Definitely no aircon. If it got hot you opened a window. 

 

Interesting. Of course, pre-late fifties, most people drove that way, so I guess it wasn't such a big deal.

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On 1/7/2021 at 10:02 AM, Pfeil said:

 

Pontiac???   Chevy engine, trans, rear end, frame, suspension--NO wide Track.  = Chevrolet ! 

I feel sorry for the people who didn't get to buy a REAL Pontiac.

That's the cars I grew up with and have owned at least 12 of them over the years. They are REAL Pontiac's built in Canada and sold around the world in the British Commonwealth. No need to pity us poor Canucks.

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7 minutes ago, Ed Luddy said:

That's the cars I grew up with and have owned at least 12 of them over the years. They are REAL Pontiac's built in Canada and sold around the world in the British Commonwealth. No need to pity us poor Canucks.

 

I would LOVE to have a Parisienne. It would be cool and unique, and I presume just as easy to get parts for as any old US GM product (except for the trim, of course.) I'd prefer one from the mid or earlier '60's. The other Canadian market cars I'd like to have are a '50's Monarch and a Mercury truck.

 

The one car I don't see referenced much anymore is the Beaumont. VERY cool, especially the '67. For years that used to be the only old Canadian car I'd see, and now it seems like I don't see them for sale...but I'm not really looking hard, either. I'd much prefer a Parisienne.

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1 hour ago, Ed Luddy said:

That's the cars I grew up with and have owned at least 12 of them over the years. They are REAL Pontiac's built in Canada and sold around the world in the British Commonwealth. No need to pity us poor Canucks.

No Pontiac Wide Track suspension?, No perimeter step down into frame? A front steer instead of a Rear steer, No 9.3" differential,  No Pontiac engine? No Pontiac/Olds/Cadillac Automatic???,

It's like calling a Porsche with a VW engine a Porsche. Ask anyone who's owned a factory VW powered Porsche 914 or better still a 912E.

 

 

 I remember  in the early 50's to the middle 70's Pontiac always, like a lot of other manufacturers emphasized the "ENGINE" was the heart of the brand.

 Ever go to a POCI event and stand around a Canadian Pontiac and listen to comments?

 It's like calling a Porsche with a VW engine a Porsche. Ask anyone who's owned a factory VW powered Porsche 914 or better still a 912E. In fact a Real Porsche 914-6 was sold by Porsche, and a 914-4 was sold as a VW in most of the world except the U.S. 

 I have a 76 Olds with a factory Chevy engine, The comments at OCA events are the same as a Canadian Pontiac at a POCI event.

I know my Olds is a Chevrolet, It's just something you have to accept.  

 

 Canadian Pontiac = PINO= Pontiac in name only. 

Edited by Pfeil (see edit history)
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10 hours ago, Pfeil said:

No Pontiac Wide Track suspension?, No perimeter step down into frame? A front steer instead of a Rear steer, No 9.3" differential,  No Pontiac engine? No Pontiac/Olds/Cadillac Automatic???,

It's like calling a Porsche with a VW engine a Porsche. Ask anyone who's owned a factory VW powered Porsche 914 or better still a 912E.

 

 

 I remember  in the early 50's to the middle 70's Pontiac always, like a lot of other manufacturers emphasized the "ENGINE" was the heart of the brand.

 Ever go to a POCI event and stand around a Canadian Pontiac and listen to comments?

 It's like calling a Porsche with a VW engine a Porsche. Ask anyone who's owned a factory VW powered Porsche 914 or better still a 912E. In fact a Real Porsche 914-6 was sold by Porsche, and a 914-4 was sold as a VW in most of the world except the U.S. 

 I have a 76 Olds with a factory Chevy engine, The comments at OCA events are the same as a Canadian Pontiac at a POCI event.

I know my Olds is a Chevrolet, It's just something you have to accept.  

 

 Canadian Pontiac = PINO= Pontiac in name only. 

 

So the last US Pontiac was 1981?

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14 hours ago, JamesR said:

 

I would LOVE to have a Parisienne. It would be cool and unique, and I presume just as easy to get parts for as any old US GM product (except for the trim, of course.) I'd prefer one from the mid or earlier '60's. The other Canadian market cars I'd like to have are a '50's Monarch and a Mercury truck.

 

The one car I don't see referenced much anymore is the Beaumont. VERY cool, especially the '67. For years that used to be the only old Canadian car I'd see, and now it seems like I don't see them for sale...but I'm not really looking hard, either. I'd much prefer a Parisienne.

If you really want one - they are fairly common in Canada. A quick Kijiji search turned up 27 possibilities from $1500 to $19000. Most unusual may be the 1986 hearse. Remember those are Canadian dollars. $100 US buys $126 Canuck bucks. Or to put it another way, a price of $100 Canadian is only $79 US.

https://www.kijiji.ca/b-classic-cars/canada/pontiac-parisienne/k0c122l0?rb=true&sort=relevancyDesc

 

Or you could buy this gem from Dean's Greasy Flips. It's so Canadian, it has hockey stick tail lights! Only $550 bucks or $443.44 in real money. (Hobo not included)

Greasy Flips segment starts at 36:02

 

 

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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7 hours ago, nzcarnerd said:

 

So the last US Pontiac was 1981?

No, It depends on the year and model, and in the case of 70's Pontiacs it would depend on things like California and High altitude emission laws. A example would be a 1977 T/A with a 403 Olds for Ca. or High altitude. Or a 1972 Ventura-2 getting a 250 Chevy standard engine.

  Lets take the 1961 Y body Tempest for example. A four cylinder 195.5" ( 1/2 of the Pontiac V-8 ) of 110, 120, 140, and 155HP. and a 215" V-8 155HP Buick option . Only 2% of buyers went for the Buick. That's 2,004 total Buick/Pontiac's.

 To a Pontiac loyalist a Buick or any other non Pontiac engine was unthinkable.

Lets look at the 1963 Y body Tempest with a New Real Pontiac V-8, a small bore 389" engine of 336 inches. With a Pontiac 336, V-8 sales were 50,210 for the V-8.

See what I'm talkin about?

 Many Olds guys feel the same about Oldsmobile. Remember the law suits, like when someone bought a new Delta 88 and finding a Chevrolet under the hood with the ROCKET engine decals on the air cleaner! 

 

 Remember when the New Holden Pontiac GTO came out? Guys at Pontiac shows shunned them. They were Holden's, not Pontiac's. See, the younger crowd running Pontiac didn't pay attention to history.

 

I remember my Dad telling me a similar story when Cadillac for a couple of years in the mid 30's started putting Oldsmobile engines in LaSalle even though Cadillac added some touches and a more stringent assembly to them. Cadillac, in the end finally started putting Cadillac engines back into them.   

 

Edited by Pfeil (see edit history)
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