Unlike European cars, or even older American iron, there is little market outside of North…
The Beaumont is familiar muscle with an unlikely name
“I have no idea how I got here,” Mark Bortolotto contended, though that wasn’t exactly what he meant.
“Here” was the awards presentation at the Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where Bortolotto’s 1967 Beaumont Sport Deluxe, Butternut Yellow with a black vinyl roof, glittered among a field of fellow class winners that included a Talbot Lago, Auburn Speedster, 1903 Cadillac, Ferrari Dino, an early Aston Martin and a Packard 840 Roadster. Behind him, the September sun danced on Georgian Bay. For Bortolotto, the day at Cobble Beach, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Toronto, had been perfect.
In fact, Bortolotto knew very well how he’d gotten there. He and his wife, Teresa, had driven the Beaumont – it’s no trailer queen – from Burlington, Ont., for the weekend’s events. Despite a deluge, he had joined a hundred-kilometer tour over local roads, which brought the advantage of extra style points for the concours judging.
The Beaumont, a top-of-the-line Sport Deluxe 396 assembled at Ontario’s Oshawa plant, is the Canadian-market equivalent of Chevrolet’s Chevelle SS 396. For those unfamiliar with the marque, Beaumont was originally an offshoot of General Motors of Canada’s compact line, the Acadian. That model bore a striking resemblance to what was called the Chevy II in the U.S. The Acadian Beaumont received its own chassis in 1964; it became a midsize model, dropping the prefix to be designated simply Beaumont in 1966. Beaumonts were also available in Puerto Rico and in Chile, where they were built locally in the Arica plant.
A French surname meaning fair or lovely hill, Beaumont, carries a mighty historic reference appropriate for a memorable muscle car. Among the famous Beaumonts was Robert, who led the infantry on William the Conqueror’s right wing during the battle of Hastings in 1066 and established the family name in the English-speaking world.
Canadian Pontiac-Buick dealers typically distributed the Beaumont. Though based on GM’s popular A-body intermediates, there were major differences from any particular Chevrolet or Pontiac sibling. Bortolotto’s car clearly shares a number of pieces with the ’67 GTO, including an instrument panel. However, the seats resemble a period Chevelle’s, and the Sport Deluxe carries the console of a Chevelle SS.
Up front, the grille evokes Pontiac styling, but it and the rear trim and taillights were unique to Beaumont. Front and rear emblems had the classic Pontiac arrow shape, though the insert was a pair of Canadian maple leaves. The Sport Deluxe also has faux chrome vents on the quarter panels, similar to era Pontiacs, and a stripe above the rocker panel with Sport Deluxe lettering. The front turn signal lenses were Canada-legal clear; a Chevelle’s were amber.
Bortolotto’s Sport Deluxe was one of 251 hardtops produced with the 350-horse 396-cid engine, the hottest available for the Canadian marque, and it’s equipped with a four-speed manual. (The 1967 Chevelle differed in the availability of a 375 hp version of the 396.) The Chevelle big-block engines carried the Turbo-Jet name; the Beaumont’s 396 was less boastful, with Econo-Jet badging.
Driving the Beaumont SD is effortless and enjoyable, according to Bortolotto, thanks to an easy-to-depress clutch, power steering and a functional AM radio. “Truly a lot of fun, especially when hitting the gas,” he says. “The 396 will push you back against the seat and keep you there.”
Additionally, a heartwarming backstory accompanies this Canadian classic. The first owner, Ian Smith, drove it for 15 years. Ian’s daughter, Mary, was reunited with the car – six owners later – when she spotted it and Bortolotto at a local car show.
Tears followed, then smiles and memories: Her dad had drag raced the car often but, afraid to stress the engine, he was reluctant to push it too hard. There wasn’t much success in those quarter-mile showdowns, but there was plenty of fun.