1957 Pontiac Laurentian Convertible
FTLComm - Tisdale - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Through out the years we have looked at and talked about many cars, but this is the rarest and definitely the most valuable, to be on this web site so far.

The competition among the automakers in the 1950s was fierce and it seemed that each year entirely newly designed models were coming out annually. In actual fact General Motors was evolving its cars in a sort of three year cycle with the 49 to 52 models as one form, then the 53 and 54 models a bit bigger and chunkier. 1955 was a new design and was very popular with the 56 being hard to identify from the previous year. The 57 was almost all new sheet metal on a similar frame and power train of the 1955 model though it was a bit bigger. The 58 was longer but sitting on the same base platform, while the 59s were a whole new thing.

The 1957 Chevrolet was for most car collectors and hot rod enthusiasts, the ultimate car. I recalled a GM dealer from Southern Saskatchewan who put together a whole garage of 1957 Chevrolets. But, the Pontiac, though sold in smaller numbers, was a very similar car and certainly the reasons for the popularity of the Chevy, were just the same for the Pontiac.

Through the fifties, sixties and seventies the General Motors Pontiac division was pretty much a thing of its own in the United States with its bottom model the
Star Chief, the Bonneville being the better model then the introduction of the top of the line Catalina. The Canadian versions carried the Pathfinder name for the bottom of the line, then Laurentian which for some years was the top of the line then on top of that came the Pariesienne. In 1957 the Laurentian and the Bonneville were the top of the line Pontiacs north and south of the border.

Because of trade issues of the era, General Motors used common parts for its Chevrolet line and for its Pontiacs in Canadaso that a 1957 Chevrolet and a 1957 Pontiac looked quite different, but both sat on the same frame, same drive train and same suspension. The basic engine of the year was the inline valve in head six cylinder engine GM had been making since the thirties, with some minor upgrading like hydraulic valve lifters. Though you could get a Laurentian with a six cylinder engine, the premium engine was the Chevrolet 283 cubic inch V-8 that was new in 57. Any one who owned a car with a 283 was a fan of the engine which had lots of power and was able to move a car along at twenty-two miles to the gallon of gasoline. The American versions of the Pontiac had a variety of engines including an expensive to operate bruit of a 347 cubic inch V-8. Most Laurentians were sold with Powerglide automatic transmissions a simple and durable three speed automatic that was developed in the late forties.

Without knowing the model names just remember if a Pontiac has an orange engine it is a Canadian built vehicle with a Chevrolet engine. If the engine is blue it is an American made vehicle.

This Laurentian convertible is close to extinction. Pontiac turned out only
775 Laurentian convertibles. It would be surprising if there were more than a handful of them still on the road. A completely rebuilt Bonneville is currently listed on e-Bay for $169,000 US and the Bonneville though equivalent to the Laurentian cost about $6,000 brand new in 1957, was made in much larger numbers. This Laurentian looks to be in original condition and really is to valuable a car to be driving around the streets.

One other interesting note about 1957 is that this was the first year for cars to come out of the factories coated in plastic. Most manufacturers ended their use of "paint" with the 1956 model year and from then on cars were given acrylic surfaces.
The practice of applying a clear coat of acrylic seemed to come into vogue in the late 1970s.