At first glance, these are the Firebird 400 and Grand Prix for 1968, but...

...the phrase "Astro-Flash 327" is one of at least two cues that this is a Canadian ad. Mostly because of steep tariffs in Canada, our northern neighbors built Pontiacs right from the start (1926) for their own consumption. And, beginning in 1937 (40 years before the onslaught of "corporate" drivetrains here in the States), Canada's Pontiacs used a variety of Chevrolet components under—or, at times including—the skins. You may recall the forgettable Pontiac Caprice—er, Parisienne—of the mid-Eighties, imported from Canada because full-size Pontiacs had been prematurely axed from the U.S. lineup. Truly exciting news for 1968 was the 327, not only because it replaced the ancient 283, but also because the previous standard powerplant, even for the venerable 2 + 2, was the 155 hp "Astro-Six"! Fortunately, 396s and 427s remained available.

With the easing of those tariffs in the mid-Sixties, imports from the U.S., such as the Firebird 400 (above, top), increased dramatically. As Canada's factories stepped up production for export, uniquely-Canadian models—developed to meet the demands of Canadian consumers—started to disappear. The bottom car appears to be a Grande Parisienne which was, in its 2-door version, at least outwardly similar to our Grand Prix in 1966 and '67 (interestingly, the Canadian series included a 4-door hardtop and station wagon). But, for '68, the Grand Prix-like grille adorns what looks to be a stateside Catalina Sport Coupe body with fender skirts, thus losing the Grand Prix's exclusive formal roofline and concave rear glass in the process.

Special thanks to author Thomas E. Bonsall for the historical information found in PONTIAC: The Complete History 1926-1979 (published by Bookman Dan!, ISBN 0-934780-02-1). See his excellent—though, for no good reason, not exclusively Pontiac—Web-zine, Ride&Drive.

< '67 GTO ad
1968 Pontiac Firebird 400
& Grand Parisienne
'68 LeMans ad >

Ad adapted from the back cover of the April, 1997 Smoke Signals,
the monthly magazine of the Pontiac-Oakland Club International.

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