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.
Pontiacs used chevy motors.My parents 1968 Pontiac Laurentian had 396 in it.My pals 65 Pontiac had factory 409 in it…My 65 was a 327 ,,
Why would you think that 350 is a Pontiac engine? Canadian Pontiacs had Chevy chassis and drivetrains.
Hey John and Rich–thanks for the heads up! In our Internet search, we couldn’t find a definitive answer on what specific “350” Pontiac used here, but your comments echo one that was made when we shared it on Facebook too, so I’ll adjust the copy above.
Just too cool any way you view it
You forgot to mention the Pontiac Parisienne, another badge for the full size canuck models.
I didn’t know the parisienne was canadien….my buddy had his while I had my caprice classic back in the day…they were virtually identical and there was no sign of anything canadien… that will be cool to tell my buddy…I know he wasn’t American as me…lol.
Hey Pontiac brother, I have a 72 Pontiac Grand Prix I’d like to sell. Bought it in 86. Still in pretty good shape. Been stored but un touched for 10 years. 400cid and auto tranny. Would you know anyone in Ohio (I’m about 1.5hr form Akron) might be interested? It would be a fairly easy restore job.
Pontiacs came to Australia at that time from Canada designed as right hand drive. We assembled them here from kits by Holden. Canada supplied the Chev. 327 & 350’s also made in Canada. They were the biggest cars available in Aus. at the time. Most were Parisians.
Although the engines were orange and obviously chevy-sourced, they were still branded as Pontiac. The 427, for example, was the Pontiac Astro Jet.
We had a ’69 Pontiac Laurentian. As I recall, the “stripped down version with minimal trim was the Strato Chief. Then the Laurentian. Then the Parisienne. Top of the line with lots of chrome and all the bells and whistles was the Grand Parisienne. I never realized that some (all?)of these models were not sold in the US.
What was the Parisienne and Grand Parisienne equivalent in the US?
Bonour Jean, since it rode on GM’s B-Body platform, the Parisienne was essentially an Impala here in the U.S. for most of its production run. BUT! The U.S. actually got the Parisienne for a few years in the 1980s, where it was the equivalent to the Chevy Caprice Classic full size sedan.