I remember it so vividly: it was the summer of 1963 and I had just left the concession stand outside the Iowa City Public Swimming Pool. As I walked in front of the row of cars parked next to the pool with my 15¢ soft ice cream cone, I suddenly saw this: a mutant Chevy II! I was totally flummoxed, even more so by the odd badging: Acadian? Beaumont? What the hell is this?
I walked around it a couple of times, and finally noticed the license plate: Ontario. That sort of explained it. But why would they disguise a Chevy II in Canada?
Well, thanks to my years here at CC, I’m now pretty well versed in the alternate-universe of Canada-specific brands and re-badged, Cheviacs and Plodges. But back then, it was a real stretch for me. Why put a Pontiacesque split grille on a Chevy II, and rebadge it?
In case you missed it here before, the Acadian was created to give Canadian Pontiac-Buick dealers a compact to sell, as the Tempest wasn’t built in Canada, and the whole idea then was to promote local production with pretty stiff import duties on US-made cars. The initial plan was for the Acadian to be a rebadged Corvair, as it was built in GM’s Oshawa plant, but once the Chevy II was getting finalized, the plan changed to make it the Beaumont.
I wonder if they were going to put a split grille on the Corvair? Like this Pontiac Polaris, which was ditched at the last minute in favor of the Tempest. I’ve actually never seen this version of the Polaris before. Now that I think about it, I’m not so sure that’s what it really is, although it does have a little split in the grille. Could this be a mock-up of what was originally planned for the Beaumont? Hmm.
I’ve seen pictures of this Polaris prototype numerous times, and it looks more credible, as there was no way Pontiac was going to sell such a mildly disguised Corvair as the one further up.