11 abr. 2011

Acadian Beaumont: Canadian car, made in Chile

I wanted to share this wonderful article published by tuerca.cl, on the Chilean production of the Acadian, a GM product from Canada, and here it is. I act only as a translator! And also put some extra pictures, none of which is mine.
According to its advertising, it was "Chile's most advanced car". We can only agree: The Acadian was a refined, sporty and very reliable North American car built in Chile between 1962 and 1971. Back in the day, Acadians were unbeatable in smoothness, comfort and reliability. They just never broke down.

The brand

The Acadian were the settlers of French origin that made the eastern region of Canada (which called "Acadia") their home. To keep on the Canadian theme, a red maple leaf was included on the Acadian logo. It was a pure marketing creation from GM to counter import duties in Canada. 

The brand comprised many different models, but only two were chosen for assembly in Chile: Acadian Canso and Acadian Beaumont

Acadian development in Canada

Long story short, Canadians had a preference for Pontiac vehicles, and when local taxes made it too expensive for GM to import the new Tempest, the company thought of filling its niche with a Chevy II clone in a Pontiac-looking suit. 

To make the new car available at not only Pontiac, but also Buick dealers, GM decided to give it a new name, and so in 1962 the Acadian brand was born. Its offerings went from the basic Invader, to the Canso and top-of-line luxury Beaumont.

Following Ford's new Fairlane, GM launched the Chevrolet Chevelle, and in 1966 the Canadian branch takes that model as the basis for a new Beaumont, which included the necessary Pontiac-styled redesign and was separated from Acadian as a stand-alone brand.

The base engine was always a 6-cylinder (although some Invader used a 4-cylinder engine), in a wide range of options topped with a 5.4 litre V8. Even more, the Beaumont SD had a V8 with 350 HP. None of those arrived to Chile. The Acadian brand doesn't exist anymore, but they are still fondly remembered in Canada as a one of the best cars of its day, or as a Chevrolet in black tie.

The Chilean Production 

Back in the 50's and 60's Chile was, like other South American nations, pursuing industrialization through import-substitution, and so there were many car and motorcycle factories, an impressive number for such a small country. Between those Chilean-built brands was Acadian, with the Canso and Beaumont. They caused a sensation locally, being the first modern and stylish car of US-origin to be assembled in Chile after the Studebaker and the Chevy II.

The cars arrived to Arica harbour dismantled, in boxes from Oshawa, Ontario, in the beginning, and from Willow Run, Michigan, starting in 1967 to be carefully put together in the TECNA plant in Arica. The Chilean-made parts used were few, which gave the cars great durability. Among them were some windscreens and side windows, plastic parts, carpeting, tyres, batteries, and the like. 1965 models received Chilean-made fiberglass bonnet and boot, which tarnished the image of the brand locally.

The Acadian was an expensive car. Among their sales representatives was ATAL Autos, which always sold refined cars. Being a two-door only car also signaled it as something far from prosaic, a "personal luxury cars" in the US nomenclature. Therefore, Beaumont potential customers didn't like their cars to have "plastic" pars in them.

Only the last units built in 1971 went back to their original, steel bonnets, likely to be remaining stock for the Canadian factory, having them already ended the production of the car.

How many models were in Chile?

In Chile, the Beaumont was never separated from the Acadian brand, and while since 1967 the cars didn't have Acadian emblems anymore, they were still advertised and registered as Acadian Beaumonts. What we know is that 5 models of Acadian were assembled in Chile. They were only offered with the 230 Econoflame engine with 140 HP and seemingly some, from 1967 onwards, had the 250 version as an option.

The first Chilean built Acadian, called Canso, used the Chevy II 300-series 4-door body, with some not very distinctive accessories, its differentiation coming mostly from its chrome trim. That was the most simple and basic Acadian in Chile.

The second model was the '63, which brought to the lineup a magnificent coupé with clean lines and a styling that still looks modern, based on the rare low-roof Chevy II coupé. Then in 1965 came the most elegant Acadian. Big and formal, it was like a little 2-door limousine. It was already a Chevelle body with special accessories and its interior and grille were very similar to those of the Pontiac Tempest. Very elegant, and with a soft ride, it had a semi-articulated chassis in which the rear sections were independently linked to the main chassis.

In 1967, a new styling was offered, using the very muscle-car body of the new '67 Chevelle. It had a characteristic rear window inside a sort of tunnel made by the shape of the pillars. It was a very desirable car for those wanting a very sporty looking car. It had the same 6 cyl. 140 HP engine, that coupled with a lightweight body and good aerodynamics resulted in car that was actually fast.

In 1969 was the turn for the most remembered Beaumont in Chile, the model that comprised most of the local production, the GTA, based on the quasi fastback Chevelle Malibu body. It was sold in two guises, Custom and de Luxe, the first lacking some trim and a radio.

For unknown reasons, some had special differentials that made them formidably quick. Going over 100 kph was really easy, without the driver even realizing. The cars were that smooth, thanks to their suspensions and the aforementioned articulated chassis.

It seems that Chile was the last country to see Beaumont production, this ending in 1971. It was exactly the same 1969 model, but with its bonnet and boot made of metal and two beautiful fake air intakes. The colour palette was wide. They were offered in white, Croccus Yellow (light yellow), metallic green, metallic light blue (Mist Blue), red and between 1969 and 71 some in burgundy. The upholstery matched the body colour and in 1963, and from '67 to '71, a vinyl roof was optional.

How were they sold in Chile?

As GM products, they were offered by some of their dealers (those that weren't busy selling Chevy II and Nova). TECNA sold them directly and though some independent dealers informing that "original Beaumont spares are sold through General Motors Chile dealers throughout the country". It also said that "this car has been designed by General Motors and built in Chile by vehículos TECNA Limitada according to a policy of gradual improvement of its vehicles. The company reserves the right to modify any detail relative to its production or finishes".

Many customers would go to Arica themselves to bring them home. They were the envy of everybody, specially the 1969 model with its "agressive pillarless sport looks". Among the specifications listed for this model are:
"Fascinating pillarless sport design - Powerful 140 HP engine and legitimate transmission from General Motors of Canada - All synchronized gears - Body by Fisher over chassis - Telescopically adjustable steering column - Anatomic seats that make long trips not tiring - Automatically regulated brakes - Other refinements: Radio - Heating - Side parking lights". 
It's estimated that around 1.500 Acadian were assembled in Chile during its 10 year production run.

Original article: 
Ricardo Adonis: adonisrick@yahoo.com

1 comentario:

  1. todavía los recuerdo eran bonitos y con una imagen deportiva, hace años que no veo uno...DICHATO


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