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A Poncho Legend!

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July 2009 Feature Car


Having hit the 1000 member mark, I felt I'd celebrate by making the car that inspired Canadian Poncho the feature for July. You veterans to the site have heard this story before. I promise not to repeat it after this! However many of you may not know the story behind my 1969 Pontiac Laurentian and the reason why I wanted to own one.  First, we have to go back about 39 years

It was the Spring of 1970. My dad was looking for a car to replace his 62 Impala. It had served him well but was starting to get quite rusty.  Being the sole bread winner of my family and having two young kids, he needed a car that would be reliable, inexpensive,, V8 powered,  a two door hardtop (he didn't want a four door as he was afraid wed open the doors and fall out!) and most of all it had to be a GM product. A visit to the local Pontiac dealer (Sinclair) revealed the perfect car. They had a 1969 Pontiac Strato Chief that was a company demonstrator. This was the first time the Strato Chief two door was sold as a hardtop. This one had everything he needed:  A 350 V8, power steering, power brakes, and AM radio. Although green wasnt his first choice of colour, the price was too good to pass up and the Strato Chief went on to be our family car for 12 years.

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There were many fond memories of this car. Trips to friends and family. Dad letting me drive the car on the dirt roads that led to the cottage. My sister and I fighting for the front seat when we went on errands with dad. Ever since I got my drivers license I wanted a 69 Pontiac. I didn't care if it was a Strato Chief. The Laurentians and Parisiennes werent much different anyway. It seemed every 69 I looked at had been a victim of our harsh winters. Many had frame damage and knowing how hard parts were to find I didn't bother with cars that had rotted sheet metal. I even thought I found THE car back in 1987. A 25000 mile Strato Chief 2 door hardtop located about 2 hours north. You can imagine my disappointment when I found the roof completely rotted under the vinyl top. After that let down I pretty much gave up on finding a decent one. Fast forward to 2007. Both of my parents had since passed away. I thought more and more about the great times we had with that Pontiac. Just for a kick, I posted a want ad for a 69 Pontiac online. I had a few replies however most of them were either priced to high, located too far away or too rusty. Having been spoiled by having owned old cars from the southern U.S didn't help!

A few weeks later I received an email from a fellow giving me a heads up on a 69 Laurentian for sale in Welland, Ont. The car looked pretty decent and it appeared only some interior work was needed. It had just come out of  a 30 year hibernation, having been put in storage in 1978 by the original owners son after having been completely stripped to bare metal and repainted.

Unfortunately I wasn't in the position to pay the asking price unless I could sell the car I already had and I wasn't having any luck in doing that. The Laurentian was owned by (now) CP member 67BBSD (Ken). Ken posted the car on Ebay and the car sold. I had pretty much forgotten the car when I got an email from Ken a few weeks later. It turns on the buyer on Ebay wasn't happy with the car and he suggested I contact him to see if he would sell it to me. Ken sold the car for a lower price on Ebay than he had originally posted in his ad. This price was more in my budget and I felt that if the new owner would sell me the car for what he paid, I could swing the deal. I managed to contact the owner. He was agreeable in selling the car to me for what he paid. He was located in Guelph and we tried to hook up on a few occasions. It seemed like it wasn't meant to be. My interest waned somewhat and I started looking for something else. I decided to look for a muscle car that I could buy, enjoy for a year or so and sell and make some money. A little while later I found a 69 GTO for sale in Old Autos. The car was from California and the price seemed low enough that I could make some money with very little elbow grease. Little did I know at that time the market would drop like it did! I contacted the seller and he was located in Guelph. When I learned this I remembered the Laurentian. I figured if I could contact the owner of the Laurentian, I could check it out as well. When I mentioned the GTO to the owner of the Laurentian he said That car is located right next door to me!. What do you think the odds are of this happening? Fate? I had a friend come with me to check out the cars. The dealership I worked for was nice enough to let me take a dealer plate with me. I was determined to come home with something. I checked out the GTO first. It really didn't do anything for me. I felt it needed more work than I was willing to put into it and felt I wouldn't be able to get my money out of it. We walked next door to check out the Laurentian. I could not get over how solid this Canadian Pontiac was. I paid the sellers price and drove the car home.

Once I had her home I could asses what was needed to make her reliable and to jazz up her  appearance. It really wasnt much to look at with those wire hubcaps, 14 wheels, fuzzy seat covered interior and cracked nose cone.

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My first plan of attack was to go through the brake system. The shoes, cylinders, flex lines, rear lines and master cylinder were replaced. I scored a mint nose cone on Ebay and had it painted Mayfair Maize to match the rest of the car. The 14 tires and hubcaps were replaced with 15 steel rally wheels with correct Canadian Pontiac Centers. The tires are repro Firestone Redline Wide Ovals purchased from Coker Tire. A redline spare is also in the trunk (thanks to Ken for selling me this tire and those Pontiac center caps!) .

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The worn cloth upholstery was replaced with more durable vinyl purchased from NOS Reproductions. Special thanks to my wife for helping me install these covers. You pretty much need two people to do these right. The carpet was also replaced. I also scored these custom floor mats thanks to NOS Reproductions. They are perfect!

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I was also lucky to nab a rare rally gauge cluster on Ebay. The 8 track player that was installed in the 70s still works however I opted to install a more modern radio with a SD card slot. I hid it behind a GM tissue dispenser. Modern speakers hide under OEM grilles. Two 4 speakers  are located under the dash where the mono speaker used to be.

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Under the hood the original 350 cleaned up and was injected with a few more ponies thanks to a 350hp 327 cam swap, Edelbrock intake and carb. Exhaust flows through a dual exhaust system by Waldrons.

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With the Holley Carb:

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The paint is still the 30 year old lacquer applied back in 1978. It is starting to show its age however I hope to preserve it for a few more years. Im still amazed at how well it still shines. The vinyl top was also replaced in 78 and still looks very good. I suspect the super rare Laurentian body side moldings, emblems (including 427 emblems), bumpers, grilles and weatherstrips were also replaced with NOS in 78 as they are all in excellent condition. Thanks to Ken, I was fortunate to get copies of photographs taken of the car in the early 1970s as well as photos of  the restoration in 1978.

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Many people have asked me why I kept the green interior with the yellow exterior. Why not? Remember, this car was built in 1969. Wonky colour schemes were the norm and I feel this just adds to the character of the car. As for future plans for Lemon Lime? A big block is on the engine stand and will hopefully find its way between the fender wells this fall. After that I hope to just keep it clean and put lots of miles on it.

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When I bought the Laurentian I immediately became frustrated with the lack of information on these cars - both in print and online. How could there be so little information on Canadian built Pontiac's when they were everywhere back in the day? Why did people snub their noses at them? It wasn't for lack of style or reliability. I soon realized the Beaumont and Acadian guys were in the same boat.  I decided to take matters into my own hands. Canadian Poncho was formed in the hopes that Id meet other folks who shared the same passion for these cars. We could exchange knowledge, parts, and support. And thanks to Canadian Poncho I have met so many fantastic people who have helped me get the Laurentian to the condition it is in today. I also feel privileged to have met many, many great people and have seen some fantastic cars. You have all made owning my Pontiac that much more special.

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Todd







-- Edited by 69Laurentian on Tuesday 30th of June 2009 10:50:42 PM

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Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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Way to go Todd, that is some documentary you posted for our enjoyment, car looks fantastic! biggrin

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Ray White, Toronto ON

1973 LeMans 454 "Astro-Jet"

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A Poncho Legend!

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Sorry if it's a little long winded.biggrin

Like I said, I promise not to tell the story again!wink



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Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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I read every word, I love the stories behind the cars.  thumbsup.gif

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Ray White, Toronto ON

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Poncho Master!

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Todd, It's a great looking car as well as an interesting personal story about your motivation. I hope you get great new memories.
Thanks for sharing the story.

Rick

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1967 Parisienne 2+2
1967 Grande Parisienne

1967 Laurentian
1967 Strato Chief


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great to check it out again todd. keep the b/blk swap pictures comin too!

your dad's strato looks great with the slots. wink

what's with the 'strato chief' emblems mounted down low on the front fenders?



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With a great looking car comes a great story,  thanks for sharing that.biggrin.gif

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 Great story and a great looking car!!! Good show! It is truly amazing how many of our Dads had influence on us with our cars!!
 When I first got my Rag done in' 97 and since beyond that, my Dad never drove it once!! Not that he never had the chance but was more content to sit in the passenger seat I am sure beaming with contentment and satisfaction about what he had passed on to me, the only old car nut in the family out of 7 children!!! A chip off that old "mechanical" block. Hence the Jr in my name!
 I am sure your Dad would have an equal if not brighter a glow.....................................! 

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Vincent Jr.



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Truely Enjoyed Reading your Poncho story....GREAT CAR!!!!

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1960 Pontiac Strato Chief Safari
1960 Laurentian Safari 
1960 Laurentian 4door(scrapped)
2001 Grand Am Traded on a '96 Suburban 2WD
2002 Hyundai Accent(SOLD)
1968 Grand Parisienne Scrapped and SOLD

 

Calgary, Alberta, but raised in Peterborough

gus


Addicted!

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Nice ride Todd two thing that caught my eye is the lic. plate,Because back in the day my
DADHADI as well & in one of your early picture's of you on your tricycle, I restored one just like that (Day care thing for Gus)

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Bobby J


Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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thanxs for the picts, thanxs for the story, thanxs for the site. fred and i were talking yesterday how much info is now becoming available because of this site. thanxs again

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sTevE

55 GMC, 53 Pontiac Sedan Delivery (for sale), 70 Pontiac 2+2 rag



A Poncho Legend!

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Good stuff    Its about time!!!  lolbiggrin

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A Poncho Legend!

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Thanks guys. Dave- that's the factory location for the Strato Chief emblems in '69. I always thought that was a strange place to put them.

Todd


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Guru

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Way to go Todd you know that car is one of my favorite cars in town, Cant wait to help with the big block!

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Todd, no need to apologize for a long-winded account. The stories behind the cars are fascinating.

You are right, there isn't a lot of info on the Canadian Pontiacs. I can remember those 69 full-size models since they were brand new. In my neighborhood there were 2 brand new 69 Laurentian 4-doors. Both had 350 V8s & the new TH350 transmissions. One was Crystal Turquoise with matching interior, the other was Verdoro Green with a black vinyl roof & interior. There was also a new Mayfair Maize 69 Parisienne 4-door hardtop with a black vinyl roof. That one got quite rusty by 1974 and was replaced by a new 1974 Parisienne 4-door hardtop (Gordon Jump was the pitchman for those on TV in 74), this time Midnight Blue with a medium blue vinyl roof & factory finned wheel covers. All the 1969 big Pontiacs I can ever recall had drum brakes & 14 wheels.

A good friends grandfather owned an amazingly clean 69 Laurentian 2-door hardtop. He would drive up to Ancaster from his place in Hamilton, perhaps a 10 or 15-minute drive, and would polish the car at his destination. It was Silver with a black vinyl top & interior. Again, it was powered by a 350 / TH350. It was so unfortunate that he died in 1973 because Im sure he would have kept it in showroom condition. It was sold to a local who used it as a daily driver. By the early 1980s the toll of winter driving was showing. It was then sold to a young guy who used it until it was ready for the demolition derby. Which reminds me...
Another friends father owned a Midnight Green Parisienne 4-door sedan with medium green interior. It was pretty clean for a daily driver. I was shocked when it ended up in a demolition derby in 1978.no

In Hamilton back in 1981I recall seeing a decent 69 Laurentian 4-door, just like the Crystal Turquiose one I remember as a new car. What really made me do a doubletake was the presence of 307 emblems on the fenders, the correct 69 Poncho style. The big Pontiacs never offered the 307, unlike Chevy that offered it on the big cars in 1968 only.

I can recall many more big 1969 Canadian Pontiacs from the past (and you thought you were long-winded!) Like the time we were camping in Oscar Sherr State Park in Clearwater, Florida. The people in the next site were from Brantford, Ontario. They had a silver 69 Laurentian 4-door with blue interior, a 250 six, TH350 trans (not a Powerglide), power steering & power drum brakes. There are more, but mercifully I will stop now.

Congrats on finding a nice Laurentian to build and enjoy! They hold a special place for me too!


-- Edited by CdnGMfan on Wednesday 1st of July 2009 02:46:19 PM

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67 Chevelle Malibu Sport Coupe, Oshawa-built stocker 250 Powerglide 40,000 mile

Also in garage waiting: stroker 296 cid inline six & built TH350

Cameron Milne, Toronto.


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A Poncho Legend!

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Thanks Cameron. Feel free to tell us (me) about the other 69 Pontiacs you have seen. When my dad had his our neighbor across the street had a black on black 69 Laurentian. He didn't take very good care of it and it soon rotted. I tried to track down dad's car about 3 years ago. Surprisingly the last owner on the MTO used car package was the person who bought it from dad. It ended up here in Ingersoll (we lived in London at the time). I worked here in Ingersoll at the time and asked one of my co workers who had lived here all her life. She recognized the name and said she new them. I called the number and an elderly lady answered the phone. I asked her if she remembered the car. At first she didn't but then she said "Oh, the green Pontiac?". YES! Her husband bought the car for her daughter to take to school (Fanshawe College in London). She said she remembered it was a good car but couldn't remember what became of the car. I tried to reach her daughter and left a message but didn't hear back. I assume it was scrapped at that point as it was getting pretty rusty at that point. Of course it could be sitting in a barn somewhere...


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Addicted!

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I quite enjoyed the story of your love for cars I give you full credit for your perseverence in following what you wanted Congrats on the ride it does look great

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Great Story, great car, great website, and sounds like a pretty cool old dad too!

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ken from northern Alberta

38 Willys pickup electric powered project

39 Buick (327 with 700 r4)

66 Grande Parisienne 396 with AC (built October 26 1965)

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69 Chevy CST pickup

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thanks todd, didn't know that. confuse

 



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Well Todd it's about time old Lemon-Lime was featured. That's a great story and even though I've heard it before it is still worth repeating for the new members. Big block or not, the perfect Canadian Poncho for Canada Day, eh?

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Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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Todd,

 This is a great storey-I'm sure Mr. Bisson would be very proud to know the car is in good hands-happy to hear its all worked out.

 Although the body was always great-Mark did spens a ton of money on this car-Welland Auto Body (Moe Roy and Larry Young) painted this car in 1978-if you can believe it they were a high end shop-the bill was $5000-in disbelive I asked Larry one day last summer-he said ya it was something like that most of their jobs where local street rods-$3000 to $6000 ! in 1978 !! my friend bought a new 1978 Z28 for $5500 and later a cherry 72 SS454 M22 chevelle at $5000-I think Carl is quote as paying $2900 for his SD 396 rag the next year !

You missed the part that this was a raffle win in 1969 !

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A Poncho Legend!

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I've emailed Mark a few times with some photos. I should send him some more recent shots.

He didn't mention his dad won the car but said he remembers going to the dealership to pick it up.


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Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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As far as I know and the storey around town ever since I was a kid was it was a Lions raffle win, his Dad stored it too being a second car thats why it was always so good.

 I think Mark would be 48 or 49 so he should remember.

 My wife worked with Mark's ex, this car sat in the garage for a few years after they split but her new partner wanted the garage so the car got pushed outside-he was keeping it for his kids but they had no interest-he said he didn't have the heart to leave it outside. I went to look because of the convertible that I had with the same color-I was surprised how good it kept and really couldn't see it sitting in that alley way so I bought it promptly.

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Great car, great story Todd.

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62 Catalina 2 dr post project

69 Parisienne 2 dr ht 427

66 Caprice 2 dr ht 396

68 Bel Air 2 dr sedan BB project

68 Caprice 2 dr ht 396

68 Impala SS427 convt

69 Kingswood Wagon 396

73 Biscayne Sedan 350 19K miles

73 Camaro 307 4 spd CA car

11 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG

 



Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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427carl wrote:

I heard it was for sale for 10.000.00 plus 1500.00 shipping?



too funny !

 



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