Not many Americans are familiar with Canada’s automotive industry 40 years ago, but the Big Three produced plenty of cars that were unique and completely different than their American brethren. Much of this was due to import duties, not to mention the desire to give Canadians something that they could call their own. For those living in border states in the U.S., the Beaumont may be somewhat familiar, but to others it’s a confusingly funky.
It all started in 1962 when Chevrolet released the Chevy II. General Motors of Canada created their own version called the Acadian, which was obviously based on the Chevy II yet had certain Pontiac hallmarks like a split grille because it was sold by Pontiac dealers. The top trim level was called Beaumont, but that changed in 1964 with the introduction of the Chevelle. In Canada, that car confusingly became the Acadian Beaumont, which eventually became the simpler Beaumont in 1966. The Beaumont was available in several trim levels starting with the base Beaumont, then Beaumont Custom, and Beaumont Sport Deluxe, with the latter having the availability of the “Econo-Jet 396.” Like before, the Beaumont was an interesting hybrid of Chevrolet with Pontiac styling including the Tempest/LeMans/GTO dashboard and paint colors.
After 1966, the performance Beaumont became more prominent with its own identity. The SD 396 often confuses people because they think it stands for “Super Duty 396” but it’s no different than in 1966 − it’s a Sport Deluxe 396. The Beaumont nameplate continued through 1969, upon which Canada changed its tariff laws and American cars could now be imported with little government meddling (although Pontiac continued to sell Canadian Pontiacs like the Parisienne, among others, not to mention American GM models continued to be built in Oshawa, Ontario).
This 1966 Beaumont on eBay is a mid-level Beaumont Custom convertible that migrated down to New Jersey a few years ago. Its original inline-six was replaced by a 350 that’s been bored over 0.30 inches with a 400 crankshaft; Headman Headers and Flowmasters take care of the exhaust. Seller claims there are “no visible signs of rust anywhere” so if you want something unique but want to stay within the GM fold, you can’t do much better than this Canadian.