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Thread: Pontiac Parisienne (2nd gen) 1961-1964

  1. #1
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    Pontiac Parisienne (2nd gen) 1961-1964

    The Pontiac Parisienne is a full-size rear-wheel drive vehicle that was sold by Pontiac on the GM B platform in Canada from 1958 to 1986 and in the United States from 1983 to 1986. For most of its run, the Canadian Parisienne was nearly mechanically identical to the American Chevrolet Impala. The Parisienne wagon continued under the Safari nameplate until 1989. Parisienne or La Parisienne means a grammatically female person or thing from Paris, France.

    Differences from US Pontiacs
    The Parisienne entered the production lineup as a sub-series within the Laurentian line in the 1958 model year. Parisienne became a separate model in 1959.

    For most of its life, the Parisienne was the Canadian nameplate for the top-of-the-line model sold in GM of Canada's Pontiac showrooms. Parisiennes were distinct from other Canadian Pontiac models by their standard features: the luxuriousness of upholstery fabrics; standard equipment such as courtesy interior and trunk lights; bright trim mouldings in the interior; distinct exterior accent chrome pieces; and availability of two- and four-door hardtops and convertibles.

    In particular, Canadian "full size" Pontiacs were actually closely related to Chevrolets, making use of the economical Chevrolet chassis and drivetrain, though with the American Pontiac-styled exterior body panels (They weren't the same as U.S. Pontiac panels since they had to fit the shorter-wheelbase 119-inch Chevrolet "X" frame. U.S. Pontiacs used a full perimeter frame.) and interior instrument panels. As Chevrolets under the skin, Canadian Pontiacs including the Parisienne used the same engines and transmissions as full-size Chevys, including the 230 and 250 cubic inch 6 cylinder and 283, 307, 327, 350, 396, 400, 409, 427 and 454 cu inch V8s. These engines were mated to the same transmissions as Chevrolet, including 3 and 4 speed manual and the 2 speed Powerglide and later the three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmissions.

    The first Parisienne, offered for the 1958 model year, was a super deluxe "halo" model in the Laurentian line, much like Chevrolet's Bel Air Impala of the same year. Chevrolet's Ramjet fuel injection system, introduced in 1957 in the U.S., was a Parisienne option as well. It was marketed as the "Power Chief" option, but it was identical to Chevy's Ramjet. Also available for the first year Parisienne was Chevrolet's Turboglide automatic transmission.

    Built in the same GM of Canada assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, Pontiacs had parallel model lineups as "full size" Chevrolets: the Pontiac "Strato Chief" had similar trim level and upholstery as Chevrolet's "Biscayne", the "Laurentian" matched the trim level of the Chevrolet "Bel Air" and while the Parisienne offered similar amenities as Chevrolet's "Impala", the Pontiac version had unique and more costly upholstery fabrics, and beginning in 1964 the "Custom Sport" (later rebadged the "2+2") two-door hardtop and convertible model line was in lock-step with Chevrolet's "Super Sport". Finally, starting in 1966 Pontiac offered the "Grande Parisienne", a two-door and four-door hardtop models parallel to Chevrolet's luxurious "Caprice," although Grande Parisiennes through 1967 used the styling of the US-market Grand Prix. Also for 1967 and 1967 a Grande Parisienne wagon was offered. Though most of its life, the Parisienne resembled the US-market Bonneville despite its Chevrolet underpinnings.

    In contrast, the Pontiac Motor Division of GM in the US manufactured models with drivetrains, chassis and equipment unique from the other GM stablemates—Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac. Through much of the 1950s through 1970s, the American Pontiac model lineup included the "Catalina", "Ventura", "Executive", "Star Chief" and as the top of the line model, the "Bonneville". Additionally, unique to the US lineup until 1969 was the "Grand Prix", a distinct 2-door hardtop model with unique styling features and both luxury and "sporty" accoutrements such high output V8s, bucket seats, tachometers and flashy trim pieces.

    The mix of Pontiac exterior styling on an economical Chevrolet chassis and drivetrain at a price point marginally higher than Chevrolet, was a huge marketing success for GM of Canada. For decades "full-size" Pontiacs took third place behind Chevrolet and Ford in sales, typically 70,000 plus units annually. In contrast, heavier and bulkier American Pontiacs, with far higher sticker prices and higher operating costs due to large displacement V8s requiring high octane fuel, would have little appeal in the Canadian marketplace for a number of reasons: a population base one tenth the size of the US, a less stratified society with lower disposable incomes, more prudent spending and savings sensibilities and far higher taxes and gasoline prices. On the manufacturing side, maintaining unique part availability for a low sales vehicle along with import-export tariffs and barriers between the U.S. and Canada would make the sale of American Pontiacs unprofitable in Canada.

    In 1977, GM had downsized its full-sized lineup. Pontiac continued with the Catalina and Bonneville nameplates it had used since 1973, but the cars failed to manage the sales volume of their divisional siblings and were dropped completely in 1981. However, the Bonneville name was then simply switched to the smaller G-body Pontiac (the cousin of the Chevrolet Malibu, Oldsmobile Cutlass, and Buick Regal) for 1982. Previously, those cars had been sold as the LeMans, but sales were poor and GM decided to swap nameplates on the grounds that Bonneville carried higher name recognition among customers.

    With the recession of 1979–82 lifting and gas prices beginning to drop, sales of larger cars began to pick up and so Pontiac dealers began demanding the return of the full-sized B-body line. However, the assembly plants used for the Catalina/Bonneville had been converted over to other uses, thus GM had to now source Pontiac B-bodies from Canada, where the line had not been discontinued.

    Even though the re-sized Bonneville was also sold in Canada, the full-size Parisienne continued for 1982, although its distinct Pontiac front- and rear-end treatments and interiors were largely replaced with Chevrolet components (described in detail below). At the request of US Pontiac dealerships who still wanted a full-size rear wheel drive car to replace the lost U.S. market share and gain back traditional Pontiac customers who longed for a large rear wheel drive car, the Parisienne was imported from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada and sold in the United States beginning in the 1983 model year, retaining the model name "Parisienne" and specs from the Canadian original. Externally, it was a rebadged Chevrolet Impala (1983-84 models (and 1982 in Canada) had the Impala rear taillight panel fitted with Pontiac-spec taillight lenses, whereas the nose was borrowed from the Chevrolet Caprice fitted with a Pontiac grille). The 1985 and 1986 models resumed use of the rear-end styling from the 1980 to 1981 Bonneville. Two Parisienne ranges were sold: a base model (similar to the former Catalina and the then-current Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale) in four-door sedan and Safari station wagon form, and a more-luxurious Brougham four-door sedan (with velour upholstery that featured loose-pillow fitted seats). The two-door version of the 1977-81 B-bodies did not return to the US market, although it persisted in Canada through 1983.

    Source: Wikipedia

  2. #2
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    Obligatory reply from the forum's Canadian.

    GM is closing their big plant in Oshawa, Ontario (just east of Toronto) where I believe the Parisienne was built, after something like 100 years of presence there. The town is/was built around GM, and the junior hockey team was named after the company.

    A sad series of events to see GM leave, especially after the Governments of Ontario and Canada contributed to their bailout. Real shame for all the workers.

    I kinda saw the writing on the wall when I was working in automotive in this province. Marchionne said Ontario was the most expensive place in the world to build cars, which may or may not have been hyperbolae, but it certainly was worrisome.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitdy View Post
    Obligatory reply from the forum's Canadian.

    GM is closing their big plant in Oshawa, Ontario (just east of Toronto) where I believe the Parisienne was built, after something like 100 years of presence there. The town is/was built around GM, and the junior hockey team was named after the company.

    A sad series of events to see GM leave, especially after the Governments of Ontario and Canada contributed to their bailout. Real shame for all the workers.

    I kinda saw the writing on the wall when I was working in automotive in this province. Marchionne said Ontario was the most expensive place in the world to build cars, which may or may not have been hyperbolae, but it certainly was worrisome.
    I heard about that. That's a real shame, there really aren't any sustainable middle class jobs anymore and the drive to sell products at the lowest possible price regardless of where they're made is really hurting the manufacturing business. People just don't care about quality or where they're built, just final price. This is made even worse by people leasing cars and turning cars into consumables- just trade it in for another model every 3 years. Therefore, there's no ownership of cars.

    In NJ there was a GM plant in Linden that I often passed by on the way to some family members. It was absolutely massive and also a big hit to the local economy when it shut down.

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