Curbside Classic: 1962 Pontiac Parisienne – What’s The Story Here?

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(submitted by Garry Melnyk)       I have been driving by a house on the way to my mother’s senior’s residence for two plus years now. The 1962 Pontiac Parisienne in the driveway caught my attention the first time I drove by. Firstly because it seemed to have been abandoned right there and since then has slowly sunk into the gravel. Secondly it wasn’t just another plain old Canadian Pontiac from that era. This car is actually a top of the line Parisienne Sport Sedan. Parisiennes were also produced as a two door hardtop, four door sedan and four door wagon.

1962 Pontiac Parisienne 4 door Sport Sedan

GM of Canada built 85,065 Pontiac cars during the 62 model year compared to 105,896 Chevrolet cars. I don’t have a breakdown into specific models. Suffice to say for the times, Parisienne hard tops were not as common a model as a pillared sedan or other full-size Pontiac models. Mainly because Canadian incomes were still rising in this decade and there were many young boomer families back then who budgeted on one income. So a flashy new car was simply not a viable purchase.

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Engine options in full-size Pontiacs were few; the 261CID 6 cylinder “Strato Six” was standard. A 283 CID “Strato Flash” 170 hp V8 optional with a 250 hp, 327 “Astro Flame” V8 available as a top of the line engine. Whether the 409 CID V8 made it into some Pontiacs up here has been the subject of debate. Some Pontiac enthusiasts claim a few cars did receive the big V8 for drag racing.

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So one day I could no longer contain my curiosity and dropped by with camera in hand full of questions for the homeowner. No other vehicle was in the driveway and my knock on the front and back doors went unanswered. So I snapped some pics and took a close look at this Pontiac making a mental note of what I saw. Then my imagination took over.

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But first here’s what I saw close up. A relatively well preserved car with a minimal amount of surface rust. Even lower down on the rocker panels. Perhaps it was repainted once upon a time? It’s obvious the car has been outside exposed to the elements for a long time as the vinyl roof is rotted and bubbled. As a kid I don’t recall many Pontiacs having vinyl roofs back then. My perception anyway. The fact the car has aV8 under the hood, a tinted windshield, cloth interior and AM radio means the original owner’s income allowed for a higher optioned car. An engine block heater was probably also installed to make for easier starting on a cold winter morning. Its also worth noting that not one, but two mirrors were mounted on the fenders. Again. not something very common in the early sixties for a family car.

I really wanted to lift the hood to find out what resided between the inner fenders, but was concerned if I was spotted by a neighbour that could lead to other consequences.

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A pleasant surprise was the inspection sticker from 1969 still intact on the windshield. This sticker is valued by some collectors in Alberta and clearly shows the windshield has been in place a long time. So this is either the original windshield–which I doubt– or a replacement for one cracked by pebbles thrown up by other vehicles on winter roads. The tires were severely dry rotted and all were flat. All four wheel covers were off and either stored away or long gone. The latter scenario I kind of doubt, as if this was a one-owner car, it was obviously well cared for.  While the surface paint was not bad, I don’t know how badly rusted the floor pan or trunk floor could be like. I wasn’t prepared to get on my hands and knees for a look.

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Interior fabric and vinyl is far better than what I expected to see while peering through the dirty windows. The steering wheel has only minor cracks. From my observation, this Parisienne was probably garaged regularly and maybe not driven as much as other cars of that era. Winter driving even in the normally dry prairies could still take its toll on a vehicle if the underbody was not undercoated and the body waxed every year. Trying to get a look at the speedometer was impossible.

So why I wonder why just leave the car in the middle so the driveway? Engine problem? A double garage is only metres away. What’s inside the garage another four wheeled treasure or two?

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Trying to stop by when someone was home has not worked out yet. The person I want to talk with works during the day. Most often I come by to take my mother out once a week usually around noon. So one day I will cruise by late in the afternoon or early in the evening and hopefully get some answers to my questions.  I just really need to know the back story on this hardtop and could it be bought? Great parts car or perhaps a not too challenging restoration for someone who likes old Canadian Pontiacs.