COAL: 1980 Pontiac Acadian – Any Port in a Storm

Note: None of these pictures are of my actual car

During the ownership of the Mazda B2000 in last week’s COAL, I described how some particular issues sidelined the truck for the first winter of ownership.  I was in need of a winter beater, and my meagre budget limited what I could afford.  Hmmm – What would $250 get me in 1994?

We had a local weekly buy and sell paper – the Maritime Merchant – and once the new edition came out I started calling around.  There wasn’t much available for that price – but a gold-coloured 4-door Acadian was found, for $250.  Dad and I went to look at it.  The body looked OK – some rust for sure – but, what can you expect for that price?  We ended up getting it for $225.

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It was identical to the one above – a kind of butterscotch interior with the tartanlike vinyl covering on the seats.  Feature-wise, it had a 4-speed, manual steering, and power brakes.  There was a radio, and something resembling a heater.  We don’t get really cold winters here in Cape Breton, but the heater sure is handy to keep the windows clear.  On cold days upon getting out of high school, the battery didn’t have enough power to spin the engine over fast enough to get it to start.  I’d recruit a few friends to give me a push, and I could catch it in gear to get it to start.  Money being tight, I just lived with it the way it was.

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Looking at the picture above, a few things jog my memory.  The arrangement of the valve covers – much like a pitched roof – with one of each side was something I haven’t seen on any other engine.  The engine was an overhead cam crossflow unit, but didn’t seem to take any advantage of it, as it was reluctant to make any significant amount of power anywhere in the rev range.  Also looking at the left of the picture, I see the heater box, and what I recall was the blend door control which directs the somewhat heated air to the windshield or floor.  It had broken, and if you wanted to change the flow of air you’d have to pop the hood and move it manually.  Ah, the quirks of a really cheap car.

The dash was mostly typical of its day.  The most noteworthy thing I can say is that it was probably the first GM car (in North America, anyway) with the wiper and dimmer control on the signal light stalk.

The winter wasn’t kind to it.  It developed some bad holes in the floor under the seat where snow would push in, and the torque tube pulled away from the floor while trying to do some donuts!  The final straw was a boneheaded move by me, when I tried to sneak around on the right of someone indicating a left turn.  I just about got by, and the old lady in the Buick turned right and hooked my rear door and wheelwell.  I was found to be in the wrong.  Ouch.  As injury to insult, when I tried to pry the mangled dog-leg off of the rear wheel, I sliced my thumb and nail to the bone…double ouch.  My nail is still messed up to this day.

I nursed the car through till May, and went back to driving the 1970 Chevy truck for the summer.  It found a home with a Chevette enthusiast, who used its engine as a donor for his own car. My next car purchase was to find a suitable donor for an engine for the aforementioned truck.