Ever hear of a Pontiac Laurentian?

Yeah, neither had we—in fact, the only time we’ve ever heard the word ‘Laurentian’ was in the context of the proposed resting place of the fictional submarine Red October.

So when we spotted a real Pontiac Laurentian in the Summit Racing retail store parking lot a few weeks ago, we had to put on our reporter hats and make it a Lot Shots.

Your main clue here should be the Ontario plates.

You see, Pontiac had a tendency to alter its car names for the Canadian market. For instance, the compact Pontiac Acadian was essentially a Chevy II/Nova and the intermediate Pontiac Beaumont was a Tempest/Chevelle.

Similarly, a Pontiac Laurentian was based on GM’s full size platform that underpinned cars like the Catalina and Impala.

We’re pretty darn sure this is a 1969 edition, thanks to its unique grille style.

Save for some trick Foose wheels, this Laurentian looks very close to the way it did rolling out of the Oshawa, Ontario plant.

EDIT: As the emblem indicates, under the hood rests a 350 cubic-inch engine, which we discovered is NOT the Pontiac-derived 350 mill, but rather the then-new Chevy 350. (Hat tip to a few of our readers for clarifying which engine this Laurentian used.)

From the styling cues, you may notice that these Canadian models weren’t just a simple re-badge, either.

Rather, they were often a clever amalgam of parts-bin components. GM used mixed-and-matched trim pieces, interior bits, and unique grilles to set them apart from their American-made cousins.

Why did General Motors decide to go through all that trouble?

Well, some would say it’s because, for GM Canada, the Pontiac marque slotted-in as the entry-level brand, as opposed to its mid-tier rank in the U.S.

Others would say it was done to promote Canada’s auto manufacturing industry, which spurred GM to create unique vehicles for that domestic market.

Whatever the reason, these cars are now rare—and rarer so in stock format, which means spotting a clean Laurentian in the United States is like spotting a white whale.

Or a fictional Typhoon-class submarine.

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.