4 Canadian-Built Classics That Are Unusual and Attainable

Jay Leno's Garage

Canada Day, aka Fête du Canada, celebrates the anniversary of Canadian Confederation that occurred on July 1, 1867. It’s a day to “reflect on what it means to be Canadian, to share what makes us proud,” and it “highlights the richness of our land, our diversity, our culture, our contributions, but above all, our people,” according to the government’s official website. It’s a glorious day for Canada, and to celebrate, we’re looking at some of the popular classic vehicles to come from the Great White North, and how much they’re worth in today’s market.

Starting in the early twentieth century, the big Detroit automakers south of the border built factories in Canada to sell to Canadians, rather than ship U.S.-built vehicles north. This was because of tariffs between the two countries, and while many Canadian-built Ford, GM and Chrysler products were similar to the ones driven by Americans, others were rather uniquely Canadian. There were Meteors (Ford), McLaughlin Buicks, Fargo (Dodge) trucks, and Plymouths trimmed out as Dodges, and Acadians and Beaumonts (both GM). After the Canada-United States Automotive Products Agreement in 1965, though, cross-border trade loosened up. The specifically Canadian models and marques gradually disappeared, although promising independents like the Bricklin SV-1 or Manic GT continued to pop up. Today they’re all interesting, somewhat obscure classics. Below are the Canadian vehicles we most often see on the market.

1960 Frontenac

Canadian Frontenac Car ad

When Ford introduced its compact Falcon in 1960, Ford Canada brought out an all-new marque to bring the compact party up north. They called it the Frontenac, short for a 17th-century Governor General of New France (I guess Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac et de Palluau was too long to fit on a badge) and built it in Oakville, Ontario. Frontenacs were essentially a mildly restyled Falcon, and were available in two- and four-door sedan body styles as well as two- and four-door wagons. All were powered by the 144-cubic inch Thriftpower straight-six. Ford Canada sold over 9500 Frontenacs for 1960 but discontinued the brand after only one year, replacing it with the Comet for 1961.

Frontenac prices differ by body style, ranging from $13,100 (CAD 17,900) for a four-door wagon at the bottom to $23,000 (CAD 31,400) for a two-door wagon at the top.

1948–52 Mercury M-Series Pickups

1951 Mercury Pickup front

To American eyes, pickup trucks with a Mercury badge seem a little Twilight Zone, like a budget city car sporting a Rolls-Royce grille or Kia making a mid-engine exotic. But from the postwar years up until the late 1960s, Mercury M-Series pickups were a very real thing for Canadian buyers.

At the time, many parts of the country didn’t have a Lincoln/Mercury dealership and a Ford dealership, so the Mercury M-Series gave truck-buying customers an option even if there was no Ford store around. The first-generation 1948-52 M-Series followed the same format as the first-generation Ford F-Series. Mercury M-Series trucks came in most of the configurations available on the Ford versions down south, but with fewer engine options. Currently, we only have the 1/2-ton, 239-cid eight-cylinder M-Series in the Hagerty Price Guide, and their #2 values range from $44,600 (CAD 60,900) for the earlier 1948-50 M-47 to $40,800 (CAD 55,700) for the 1951-52 M-1 model. Condition #3 values currently sit in the mid-$20K (CAD 27,300) range.

1968–69 Beaumont

1969 Beaumont front

Of all the special Canadian market versions of Big Three vehicles, General Motors’ Acadian and Beaumont lines were arguably the most distinctive. In 1962 GM launched Acadian, referring to the 17th- and 18th-century French settlers of eastern Canada, as its own brand. Its first model was based on the Chevy II/Nova compact but with different grille and trim, and different models included the mid-tier Acadian Invader and the range-topping Acadian Beaumont. In 1964 when the mid-size Chevelle came out, then Acadian added a Chevelle-based model to the lineup, recycling the Beaumont name. Then, in 1966, Beaumont became its own brand. When the second-generation Chevelle arrived for 1968, Beaumont followed suit. This was short-lived, however, as GM Canada axed the Beaumont brand after 1969 in favor of the Americanized Chevelle and Pontiac LeMans.

Built in Ontario and sold at Pontiac/Buick dealers, the 1968-69 Beaumont looks like a Chevelle with a few scoops of Pontiac mixed in, and generally followed the Chevelle in terms of trim and powertrains, which included 283, 307, 327, 350 and 396 cid engines as well as three- and four-speed manuals or Powerglide and Turbo Hydramatic automatics. Equivalent to Chevrolet’s Super Sport (SS) trim on the Chevelle was Beaumont’s Sport Deluxe (SD).

The average condition #2 value for a 1968-69 Beaumont is $24,200 (CAD 33,000) but, like their Chevrolet-badged cross-border cousins, prices vary widely depending on drivetrain and body style. The cheapest V-8 model in the Hagerty Price Guide is the 1968 307/200 hp sedan with a #2 value of $9600, while the most expensive is the extremely rare 396/350 hp L34-powered convertible with a #2 value of $81,800 (CAD 111,700).

1974–75 Bricklin SV-1

bricklin front three-quarter doors raised
Joe Ligo

Seven years before John DeLorean came out with his own ambitious but under-powered, ill-fated gullwing sports car, Malcolm Bricklin built one in New Brunswick, Canada. Bricklin, the serial automotive entrepreneur who brought Subaru to North America, imported Fiat sports cars under the Bertone and Pininfarina brands and was the man behind the Yugo, envisioned a small and reasonably priced sports car with gullwing doors when planning his next business venture in the early 1970s. As the concept developed, Bricklin snagged a few million dollars in funding from the government of New Brunswick and set up two facilities in Saint John and Minto. The company officially unveiled the production version of the Bricklin SV-1 at the Four Seasons in New York in 1974.

By its looks, one might think that SV-1 stands for “Sports Velocity-1” or something wild like that, but it actually stands for “Safety Vehicle”. The frame of the Bricklin includes an integrated roll cage, and each bumper is designed to absorb 5-mph impacts, both forward-thinking steps at the time. The bodywork is color-impregnated (five shades available) acrylic resin bonded to fiberglass, and the famous doors raise via hydraulic cylinders in about 12 seconds.

When Bricklin went looking for a parts bin to raid, it settled on AMC, so the SV-1 borrows its suspension from the Hornet, and early SV-1s have AMC’s 360-cubic inch four-barrel V-8. Later ones got Ford’s two-barrel 351 Windsor. Most SV-1s got a three-speed automatic, but a few buyers selected a Borg-Warner four-speed manual. In the end, Bricklin suffered the same fate as a lot of upstart carmakers, including the later DeLorean, minus the sting operation and tired Back to the Future redemption arc. There were quality control problems and supplier hold-ups, while a ballooning price and Malaise Era V-8 performance in a nearly 3500-pound car made the SV-1 difficult to sell. Only about 3000 were built.

Canada’s sports car has never been particularly expensive, but some strong sales for clean cars have seen prices surge surprisingly to a current median condition #2 value of $38,000 (CAD 51,900). The current #3 value sits at $23,000 (CAD 31,400) and the #4 value at $9,000 (CAD 12,300). The later Ford-powered cars would theoretically be easier to service, but the 351 was rated with lower grunt than the AMC 360 (175 hp vs. 220), so the two carry similar values. Add a few grand for the four-speed.


Hagerty maintains a Canadian version of our popular online valuation tool, complete with prices shown in Canadian dollars. It can be accessed here.

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    I think the styling of the Beaumont is as good, if not better, than the U.S. Chevelle. As a side note, in 1981 my dad bought a Pontiac T1000, which was the Pontiac/Canadian version of the Chevette. We had the only non-Chevy Chevette in town.

    I bought a brand new ’69 SS 396 Chevelle. I had a hard time with it going into reverse. Took it back to the dealer and told them the problem maybe brakes sticking. Left the car there. They called me to come and pick it up. They said the brakes were okay. I drove down the street and thought “rear axel.” As it still didn’t want to back up! They didn’t further check this out? Pulled into a Sunoco station and told him to put the car on the hoist and check the differencial. He did and said, “Dry as a bone!” The dealer didn’t check this out?” I said do you have the dope to put in there? He said, “No, only the dealer has that.” I went back to the dealer and chewed out the service manager for not following through on the cause. The car had been made in Ontarior, Canada. Left the factory with a dry differencial.
    I even got chewed out by my AAA rep, when I called to register the car with them! He asked what is the vin number. I read it to him. He said, “That’s not right, it has to start with a different letter. I think that is what he said, that was a long time ago. And he is yelling! I said, “I am reading the damn vin number!” Then he said without an apology, “Oh, that car was made in Canada is why it is different.”

    Ford launched BOTH the. Frontenac and Falcon compacts in Canada in 1960. While this may seem peculiarly redundant, it was a means of giving Canadian Mercury dealers a compact to sell. The Frontenac was a one year wonder when the Comet became available to round out the line in 1961.

    Your Canadian price guide does not have any of the Canadian built Pontiacs – Strato Chief, Laurentian, Parisienne etc. Why? Some of these are quite valuable especially the 409/427 models.

    In 1984 I saw a Bricklin up close for the first time and was quite disappointed because I felt it was a 50 footer at best. I liked the sleek lines, for the period, but the fit and detail on the fiberglass body was terrible. I first saw a Mercury PU in 1956 when our family took a trip to Canada. I was 6 years old but being a car kid, I recognized the body as being the 53-56 series F100 but didn’t know what year it was. Never saw another except in magazines or online but in 1984 I owned a wrecker service in Florida and towed a fire damaged 1977 Cougar XR7 Ranchero. I really liked that Ranchero and was interested in buying the salvage but the owner kept it. It made sense seeing it there since a lot of Canadians vacation in Florida.

    The Bricklin was a ‘pretty good car’ whose sticker price spiraled as costs mounted. Tom Monroe, my editor at HPBooks/Fisher Books/CA Bill’s Automotive Handbooks) was hired as chassis engineer from Ford, but got stuck engineering most of the car, after all. Herb Grasse, also ex-Ford, did a lot of the styling. Tom said that they did their best with what they had; always underfunded and behind numerous eight-balls. As Bricklin famously said “What did I know about cars?”
    Once the door/roof leak and actuator problem is solved, they are still pretty nice, and still manage to look futuristic, in a clunky way; the bumpers were meant to look massive, and did! Note the tail-lites are Euro-spec Datsun Z-Car? Wheels would look okay on the GEN Lee, I guess. But they drove well, like most pony cars.
    I did the article in Hemmings Special Interest Autos back in the early ‘eighties, and had a good interview with Malcolm. Don’t think he ever got busted for nose-candy, tho. Poor John D!!

    Loved my 1959 Pontiac Parisienne convertible that I owned for a few years around the turn of the century. It was always fun to open the hood and show off the 283 with PONTIAC emblazoned on the valve covers.

    Had a couple of friends that had Pony’s back in the day. They were a fun little car to drive in the winter with the rear wheel drive and being small and light. They didn’t get a lot of love back then, but I will always have a soft spot for them too.

    You forgot the Quebec built fourth generation Chevy Camaro. As American as (french) Apple Pie!

    meteor (made by Ford Oakville Ontario Canada)was totally different in style trim to the U.
    S. Ford Custom – especially the front grill and chrome side “swish”

    In my H.S. years in MI it was popular run over to Windsor to find Meteor station wagon tail-lights for ’55-’56 Fords

    “O Canada ! Our home and native land! ” You guys still have a much better anthem and a much better looking flag ( although The Isle of Man is still my favorite). My Torino was made in Canada at the Windsor plant. Even has a little maple leaf on the ‘ Manufactured in November of ‘ drivers side door tag… But shush.. don’t tell anyone or she might get deported.

    Here’s a Canadian built one that almost nobody has heard of. I know it because my brother had one. Built in Quebec, 2 gullwing doors, mid-engine…..

    The Fortvac Bernardi. Though they made less than 20 of them, apparently they were fully DOT approved so met all the production requirements. Fit, finish, and quality was about like the Bricklin…in other words, a kit car.

    Beware the chicken tax when importing Canadian built trucks (no matter how old) into the U.S. as you will be looking at a 25% tax to import!! Hagerty might want to do a story on stupid taxes and how it affects the hobby in the future?

    That import tax on Canadian built vehicles came back into play after NAFTA was cancelled, but it is only 2.5%, not 25%……big difference!

    That tax on Canadian manufactured vehicles came back into play when NAFTA was cancelled, but it is only 2.5%, not 25%….. a big difference where you put that decimal point.

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