Last weekend, I winged out to Denver to spend some time with an old high school buddy. During my visit, I ran up to Fort Collins, Colorado to participate in a car club sponsored “Toys for Tots” event. One of the cars in the parking lot cried out for inclusion in Curbside Classics, but I’d forgotten my camera. Fortunately, my friend Anne Brinkman was kind enough to kelp out, so thank her for these shots.
The (GM) engine bay includes a visual clue telling us why this car is unique. The engine itself appears to be a Chevrolet small block, but it does not include a coat of Chevy orange paint. Instead, the block arrived coated in Pontiac blue.
On the fender, a call out indicates the displacement is 327 cubic inches, a popular Chevy size, but the badge itself does not look very Chevy.
Closing the hood, we see this Chevy small block and engine badge reside in and on a Full-sized Pontiac. The grille, sheet metal and wheels all seem normal, but the badge and side trim both seem a little strange.
Checking the rear nameplate, things suddenly seem a bit clearer. This Pontiac is a 1968 Parisienne, a French flavored import from Canada. Students of these cars can tell you that Canadian Pontiacs used Pontiac sheet metal, but included Chevrolet powertrains under the Poncho sheet metal
While there were a number of factors that led to this decision, here’s the condensed version- At the time these cars were built, Canadian tariffs required a high level of domestic content in their automobiles. Canadian sales volume did not justify a dedicated engine plant to build Pontiac engines. To deliver Pontiacs with locally produced (Canadian) engines, GM simply installed engines from their Chevy plant into Pontiac bodies.
Here’s a shot showing the unusual gills behind the front wheel. In addition, fans of the ’68 Pontiac will point out there’s an odd badge on the rear fender.
A close up of the badge (from the rear deck) adds more foreign flavor. Pontiac offered a US Catalina 2 + 2 in the mid-sixties, but dropped it for the ’68 model year. Evidently, the Canadian Pontiac factory had some left over 2 + 2 badges, and they offered the Parisienne 2 + 2 for one more year.
I’m told this interior shot includes even more Chevy part numbers. In fact, the owner said the only Pontiac interior parts are the badges in the steering wheel, dash and door panel. All other parts are Chevy, installed at the factory (I know I’ve seen that shift handle in a number of Chevelles). Another example of parts-sharing designed to increase Canadian content for GM’s lower mid-priced models.
Even though I spotted this at a car event, you can see the car is a driver. The owner changed the paint color, and replaced some interior parts, but overall the car is pretty stock. I didn’t have a lot to say about this car, and did not dig too deeply into Parisienne history, but still wanted to share this unusal sighting with all our CC fans.