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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

1962 Chrysler

The 1962 Chrysler Saratoga two-door hardtop sold for $5,288 FOB Windsor, Ontario. It weighed in at 1 687 kilos (3,720 pounds).
Styling plans for the 1962 lineup Chrysler Division lineup got under way in 1958. Anything from mild to wild was considered by industry legend Virgil Exner, design chief for the entire corporation. While a full restyle was ordered, at the very last minute, the new look was defined by shearing the fins from last year’s models. The result was crisp and clean hindquarters, one of the most beautiful automotive design packages ever created.

Corporate records show that the high-powered 300 series was not offered to Canadians during the 1962 selling season. 

From St. John’s to Victoria, the public got a gander at the newest offerings at their Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge dealers in the fall of 1961. On the showroom floors were the compact Valiant, the grand flagship Imperial along with the petite, ‘imported from Paris’, Simca.

 With a list price of $3,774 FOB Windsor Ontario, the 1962 Chrysler Windsor two-door hardtop rode a 3 098 millimetre (122-inch) wheelbase and tipped the scales at 1 680 kilos (3,705 pounds). 

First and foremost, all Chryslers were full-sized. Great care was taken to emphasize that potential owners understood there were no compacts to tarnish the storied Chrysler name. 

While Chrysler Canada made compact cars, Valiant was a stand-alone brand that replaced De Soto.
“When you buy a new Chrysler, whether it is a Windsor, Saratoga or a New Yorker, you can rest assured that nowhere on the road is there a smaller cutdown, Jr. Edition that is compromising your investment. Every Chrysler represents the full size value, full size comfort and full size performance. No other car in Chrysler’s class can offer you this. For 1962, Chrysler stands along its class.” 

The Chrysler New Yorker four-door hardtop convertible carried a $5,288 price tag for 1962. The price would be hiked 10 percent as Ottawa added a hefty duty on imported vehicles. 
The entire New Yorker lineup was imported from Chrysler’s Jefferson Plant in Detroit. The price of the four-door sedan was $5,414. The three other models were hardtop convertibles: a two-door and four-door as well as a six-passenger or eight-passenger wagon.

This year’s crop of Chryslers borrowed the 1961 Dodge Polara body shells.

 The fresh, side profile was clean, punctuated only by a pronounced brow over the front wheel well and an understated one at the rear.  Unibody construction gave greater strength, reduced road vibrations. 

 Management wisely kept last year’s attractive face, one approved by the public. The canted dual headlights, in their chrome bezels capped  the front fenders. These were flanked with a canted pair of  vee-shaped, free-flow turn signals that wrapped around into the front fender. In keeping with the theme, the massive bumper was also canted. It flowed around to the side, stopping only at the leading edge of the wheel well.  Front and centre, an isoscelese trapezoid grille, replete with gently rounded corner angles, gave Chrysler a sporty European flair. In the lower right, the Chrysler crest was affixed.   A pair of graceful waterfall tail lamps replaced the fins, and came to rest in a gracious fluid curve that, in turn, crowned the bumper. 

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Interiors befitted the marque.  Swaddled in 43 kilos (95 pounds) of  sounds-deadening material, advertising bragged that Chrysler interiors were as subtly beautiful as the entire car. Vast, 1.52-metre (five-foot) long seats, in ‘perfectly colour-keyed’ fabrics, were hailed.   Designer fabrics were of excellent quality, offered in patterns that were both ‘smart and exclusive. Even the deep foam cushions on the seats were distinctive. 

The shoulder-high Driver Command Seat sported a taller back than the passengers’  and  offered ‘the ultimate in driving comfort’. Door and side panels offered a deep horizontal section that featured rich, two-inch pleats with soft trim above and below. 

Instrument panel of the 1962 Chrysler was futuristic in layout. Advertising dubbed the driver control bubble as Astra-Dome Design. 

The instrument panel was genuinely space age in look. Dubbed the Astra-Dome design, gauges were housed in a large ovoid plastic bubble with the steering wheel affixed to its nose. The affair was covered with a prominent cowl. The steering wheel was unique in that the top half was made of clear plastic laid over a bright chrome core. The remainder of the wheel was, ‘delightfully colour-matched to the interior.’ The Torque-Flite  transmission buttons were located on the underside of a prominent padded cowl to the left of the driver, and heating/air conditioning controls to the right . All other controls were affixed in a brand-new diamond pattered textured metal insert—said to be the ‘perfect touch of subtle background styling.’  The rearview mirror was affixed to the topside of the instrument panel. 

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Salesmen were trained to emphasize the attention that workers paid to the quality of construction. Borrowing from Rambler, Unibodies were deep-dipped six times in rustproofing material, then sealed with Bonderite.  The last bath greatly improved paint quality. Dealers also pointed out that this year’s Chrysler lineup was seven percent more fuel efficient thanks to improvements to the powertrain and lighter design throughout. 

The 1962 Chrysler New Yorker carried a distinctive crosshair grille. The four-door hardtop  weighed 1 800 kilos (3,970 pounds) and cost $5,596 FOB Windsor, Ontario.
As would be expected, New Yorkers were dressed to the nines. Advertising billed it as “An incomparable series in every way, perfectly matched to those discriminating Canadians who demand the best.” The rode on their own 3 200-millimetre (126-inch) wheelbase, while Saratoga and Windsor shared a 3 098-millimetre (122-inch wheelbase). Corporate records show that 531 New Yorkers found their way into Canadians’ garages and hearts. 

On the flank, the decorative spear seen on lesser models was dropped in favour of brightwork strips that crowned the front fenders, ending at the cowl. The New Yorker name was placed on the front fender. The tasteful theme was repeated aft, with garnish beginning at the leading edge of the C-pillar. A series of nine speedy, bright hashmark bars were placed near the trailing end of the rear fender. Wheel wells and rocker panels were also gilded. 

Under the New Yorker’s hood lurked  a 6.8-litre (413-cubic inch), 261-kilowatt (350-horsepower) iron monster, wedded to Chrysler’s Torque-Flite three-speed automatic transmission. 
Pushbuttons were all the rage in the 1960s. Chrysler Canada adapted them to its corporate automatic transmission--standard on all Chrysler models.

There was no lever; the system operated on push buttons. Constant-Control power steering and Total-Contact power brakes were standard equipment, as was a pushbutton windshield washer. 

The most expensive and heaviest Chrysler was the eight-passenger Town & Country wagon. It pushed the scale to 1 989 kilos (4,385 pounds) and listed for $6,407. 

A four-door hardtop station wagon was offered in the New Yorker lineup. The Town and Country wagon could be had in six- or nine-passenger configurations. Price tags were $6,264 and $6,407 respectively. Rear quarters were remarkably different from other models. A chrome spear started at the leading edge of the back fender and wrapped around into the tailgate. Rocket-like taillamps wrapped around, too. The tailgate door was heavily browed, the centre was bejewelled with a trio of gold crowns. 

Built in Canada, the Chrysler Saratoga two-door hardtop listed for $4,049.

A total of 3,487 Saratogas rolled out the Windsor factory doors during the 1962 model year. The four-door  Saratoga sedan cost $230 more than its  Windsor counterpart. Selling in the mid-price range, it was set apart from its lesser kin with more trim, including a rocker panel and a full-length  body spear. It not only ran the full length of the sides, but boasted a snappy upkick that widened at the trailing edges of the doors. 

 A pair of hardtops was also available in the Saratoga range. The two-door sold for $4,049 and the four-door carried a price tag of $4,170. These were powered by a 6.3-litre (383-cubic inch), 227-kilowatt (305-horsepower) mill, coupled to the Push Button Torque-Flite gear set. 

Chrysler Windsor two-door hardtop weighted 1 680 kilos (3,720 pounds) and was priced at $3,774.

The Windsor series was a strong seller in Canada. Although nixed in the USA, Windsor was wisely retained here at home. The price of admittance into the Kingdom of Chrysler was a mere $3,731. The four-door sedan filled in nicely for the recently deleted, De Soto. Two- and four-door hardtops were built in Chrysler Canada’s Windsor, Ontario plant. Windsors zipped along the nation’s highways and byways, courtesy of a 5.9-litre (361 cubic-inch), 197-kilowatt (265-horsepower) engine. Like its brawny brothers, the ‘trigger-quick’ Pushbutton Torque-Flite automatic transmission was standard equipment.

Windsor models sported full chrome wheel covers and brightwork around the windows. A stylized crown emblem was affixed to the leading edge of the front door, followed by a speedy chrome-look spear that graced the side all the way to an indented rear flank.  Add-ons for Windsor included sill moulding, stone shields, electric clock and window frame brightwork on sedans. 

The only ragtop in the 1962 Chrysler model year lineup was the Windsor Newport. Priced at $4,879, it weighed 1 714 kilos (3780 pounds).

Imported from the States was the Windsor Newport sub-series. This consisted of a trio of upscale offerings, more than $1,000 higher than the basic Windsors: a  convertible, priced at $4,879, a four-door hardtop that rang in at $5,002 and a four-door pillarless, eight-passenger wagon listed at $5,146 FOB Windsor. For the extra bucks there was more exterior trim and upgrades in cabin appointments. 

A total of 7,510 Windsors were shipped to dealers across the Dominion during the model year.
The first province to make the wearing of safety belts will be Ontario. The law will take effect on the first of January, 1976.

On January 16th, national highway groups announced a campaign to persuade Canadians that they would be safer in they equipped their vehicles with safety belts. Chryco belts were optional but anchors were included in the base price. Advertising bragged that Chryco’s safety belts surpassed all established strength requirements and met all SAE specifications. Their use intended to ‘ensure safe travel and confidence to both driver and passengers.’

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Optional equipment for Walter’s namesake seemed to be nearly as long as theTrans-Canada Highway, inaugurated by Prime Minister Diefenbaker, that year. White sidewall tires dressed up one’s Chrysler. Sedans could be fitted with a nifty rear window defogger and a backseat radio speaker. Power radio antenna,  and an engine block heater were good choices. The remote control outside mirror was included in the New Yorker. Vacuum operated door locks were optional, but only on New Yorker. 

For both Windsor and Saratoga, rear bumper guards, larger brakes, protective undercoating and under-the-hood insulation refined the Chrysler—at a cost. There was an optional remote control outside mirror, the pushbutton windshield washer, Constant-Control power steering, power windows and Total-Contact Power Brakes. Child-Guard safety locks were a wise choice for young families. A heater was a mandatory extra-cost item, meaning that one could not buy a Chrysler without it. 

1962 Chrysler Canada colour chip chart. 

Exterior colours were sourced from Canadian Pittsburgh Industries Limited in Windsor, Ontario. Chrysler selected CPI’s Ditzler Quickset Enamels. New for 1962 was a spray of metallic hues: Holiday Turquoise,  Sage Green, Dusty Rose, Smoke Brown, Indian Bronze, Blue Sapphire and Empress Blue. Held over from last year were Festival (Corona) Red and Executive (Shadow) Grey Metallic. Other paint choices included Dawn Blue, Buff, Polar White, Grenada Yellow, Black and Pearl Grey. 

On June 26th, the Canadian auto industry’s fortunes changed dramatically. Chryslers imported from the US and the corporation’s European subsidiaries became more pricy. To protect the domestic auto industry,  Ottawa slapped a stiff tariff increase that added 10 percent to the cost of those cars. However, the 7.5 percent luxury tax—added to the price of domestically-built cars since World War Two—was dropped. Canadian automakers immediately lowered prices by an average of $150 a vehicle. This spurred production significantly, giving the national economy a big shot in the arm.

Imported from the United States, a total of 639  posh Imperials were sold in Canada during the 1962 model year.

The boys at Chrysler Canada did themselves proud. The Chrysler Division did well for itself with a total of 11,528 cars shipped to dealers in all ten provinces. The tally bested the 1961 model year which hit 9,980 units.  

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Copyright James C. Mays 2017 All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

1961 Comet

Comet was the newest brand of automobile for Canadians in 1961. The two-door sedan weighed in at 1 140 kilos (2,513 pounds).

Euphoric Mercury-Meteor dealers blasted into the 1961 model year with its third new brand in four years. The 1958 Edsel was history after three seasons, as was last year’s Canada-only Frontenac. New for 1961 was the Comet. 

1961 Rambler Ambassador 

Comet was neither a Mercury nor a Meteor. Rather, it was a stand-alone brand—in a new size. The 2 895-millimetre (114-inch) wheelbased entry burst into the automotive world. It was initially dubbed billed as “the better compact car”  and, “new, value-packed”. The only competition in that wheelbase niche was the luxurious Ambassador by Rambler, marketed in the far upscale Imperial, Cadillac and Lincoln-land territory. 

An early clay mockup of the Comet (top) carries the Edsel name on the front door and fender. Comet (bottom), as photographed from the rear, appears to be a functional prototype. 

Comet arrived with “a spirited sense of proportion” that “gave it the most successful styling in its field”. Oddly, it started out on the drawing board as an Edsel, under the watchful eye of head stylist Robert B. Jones.  First clay prototypes rendered in 1957, closely resembled the Edsel. However, the mid-priced marque proved unsuccessful. After three  short seasons, Edsel was sent to automotive heaven but the junior Edsel carried all the earmarks of a winner. Management gave the green light to the project and they were right on the money. 

The four-door Comet sedan’s wheelbase measured The 2 895-millimetres (114-inches) and was 4 948 millimetres (194.8 inches) in overall length. 

Advertising bragged that Comet—the only compact car with fine-car styling had burst over Canada—as a US proven success. The Comet brochure reported the last year, workers in the Lorain, Ohio plant had built more than  than 250,000 cars, travelling more than a billion miles (1.6 billion kilometres) on American highways. With “the the look of success, the size of success and the feel of success”, brochures  crowed that Canadians would prefer the Canadian-built Comet and workers in Oakville, Ontario set out to prove them right. 

Our new national highway will open officially in 1962. Stretching  7, 821 kilometres from St. John's to Victoria, it is one of the longest roads on Earth.
Whether the driver was headed across town or across the country, Comet made travelling ‘lighthearted fun”. Two feet  (609 millimetres) shorter than a full-sized car, steering was light and handling was effortless. The longer wheelbase translated into smoother ride. That was a good thing to remember, considering that large stretches of the brand new Trans-Canada Highway were still gravel-bedded road. 

Jones and his team of designers changed the grille at the last minute before introduction, so it more closely resembled Mercury and Meteor offerings. Nine stacks of vertical bars graced the face with dual headlamps at the ends of the gentle oval. Comet script appeared on the right side of the hood, split in the centre with a tasteful crease. Dual gunsight ornaments sat atop the front fenders, near the leading edges. They crowned a pair of equally tasteful body creases. A restrained bumper held parking/turn signals in the lower tier and wrapped around to kiss the heavily-browed, front wheelwell. Full wheel covers were split into three-spoked divisions, carrying a ripple of  rings to a plain, chromed and domed centre. 

The soft, “round-body” envelope was punctuated with a chrome-highlighted crease, just below the door handles, where it kicked up to the top of the rear quarter panel with a discrete but decided chrome-accented flounce. The body carried a wide, butter-knife indent. Comet script appears at the rear, boldly flashing the tasteful fin. At the leading edge of the front fender, a trio of hash tags let everyone know that this was no ordinary small car, Comet a classy ride. Stylists set the car apart further from the competition with the formal, The Thunderbird-look roof C-pillar carried a tasteful Comet insignia above a multiple-striped chrome strip at its base. 

The rear of the Comet was most distinctive with canted ovoid lamps that capped the fins. A crest sweetly kissed the trunk lid, above the centre-mounted gas cap. Comet was spelled out in capital letters on a elongated chrome-look  horizontally striped panel that curved gracefully downward at the edges, to top the bumper. 

Cargo space in the Comet station wagon was  2.1 cubic metres (76 cubic feet) in capacity. 

Surprisingly, station wagons were shorn of the fins. Comet wagons were given semi-circular, gunsight-look taillights housed in bright-metal mouldings. The rear wagon window rolled down, although an electric wind option was available. An extra-cost luggage rack, with  five-stripes of  aluminum  support roof shafts, were included in the option.  Scuff-proof rubber was chosen for the wagons’ flooring—easily cleaned with soap and water. The cargo area measured 2.1 cubic metres (76 cubic feet)—the same as Frontenac and Falcon.

When equipped with the base engine, Comet’s fuel consumption was: 13.8 litres per/100 kilometres (20.5  miles to the Imperial gallon). 
Under the hood, Comet shared its 2.4-litre (144-cubic inch}, six-cylinder engine with its Ford Falcon cousin. Taking a swipe at Chevrolet’s Corvair, advertising bragged that the whisper-quit Thrift-Power Six engine was “front-mounted for better weight distribution, safer driving on all roads.” New this year was the larger, 2.7-litre (170-cubic inch) Thrift-Power mill. Since the Comet weighed more than 200 kilos (400 pounds) more then the Falcon, the extra horsepower was more than welcome—at a cost—of course.

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The three-speed conventional drive was “unusually smooth and responsive, with gearshift conveniently located on the steering column”. Optional Comet Drive automatic transmission gave owners “fully automatic driving at a budget price” because of its simplified design. 

The heavily insulated cabin held six people seated on foam-cushioned seats, fore and aft. Canadians were told they would “praise Comet’s big-car comfort and beautiful Interiors” that were “colour-harmonized” to compliment the Super-Enamel exterior paint offerings. Passengers would appreciate the extra stretch-out space afforded by the longer wheelbase and be better protected from injury in the strongly reinforced unit body that featured double ribs and strong crossmembers for greater strength and rigidity. 

Comet shared an instrument panel with its Ford Falcon kin.

The instrument panel was simplicity itself. A strip speedometer was housed in a large chrome oval with a pair of smaller chrome ovals at the extreme edges—one gauge for fuel, the other for engine temperature. The odometer was placed below the speedometer, flanked by oil and generator lights. Typical of Ford products, the ignition was located at the far left of the panel in the same row as the operations knobs. Comet script was placed in the centre of the panel, above the radio. A centre-mounted ash receiver was located below, in the same lower lip as control knobs. In front of the passenger was the glove compartment. It carried a chrome-look Comet-maple leaf chevron that stretched across the door.

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Standard equipment included the Blue Oval’s Safety Steering Wheel, dual horns and tandem-action windshield wipers. Two front armrests, dual sun visors, an aluminized muffler, an automatic choke and an oil filter all added to the Comet’s value.

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The artist’s palette was broad for Comet. Colours for Canadians were different than those built in the States. Paint was sourced from the famed Rinshed-Mason Company in Windsor, Ontario, a company that supplied not only the automotive industry, but clad NASA’s experimental X-15 fighter jets and the official dress of the Eiffel Tower. 

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The colours offered to domestic Comet consumers were: Sultana White, Starlite Blue, Saffron Green, Signal Red, Sunburst Yellow, Empress Blue, Regency Turquoise, Columbia Blue, Green Frost and Sheffield Grey. Two-tone exteriors were available for a fee. 

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Canadians could come home with their Comets in any of a quartet of body styles. The two-door sedan listed at $2,447  while the four-door sedan was priced at $2,513. The two-door station wagon was a bargain at $2,776 and Comet’s four-door, six-passenger workhorse rang in at a modest $2,848. All prices included Ottawa’s hidden 13.5-percent Manufacturer’s Tax. 

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 A pair of 1961 Meteor Montcalms

Management in Oakville reported both Frontenac and Comet production under the Meteor category, Extrapolated figures show Comet ranked Number Six in domestic calendar year sales in its Canadian marketplace debut, with 17,658 units built. Of that figure, records show that 3,718 Comets rolled out the Oakville’s doors during the 1960 calendar year. That gave Comet 5.6 percent of the market. Ford’s Falcon came in with a commanding 19,876 builds, accounting for 5.88 percent of the pie. Oakville was crowned King of the Compacts, with Rambler in second place with more than 11,000 cars built and sold.

Trunk space was “family-sized” generous in the 1961 Comet.

The Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited celebrated more milestones that year. It spent $6 million on a new glass fabrication plant in St. Thomas, Ontario. Ford’s new corporate headquarters building, situated in Oakville, opened in April. Ford of Canada was on a roll and even better times were just around the rainbow’s bend.

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Copyright James C. Mays 2017 All rights reserved.

Monday, July 17, 2017

1960 Frontenac

The 1960 Frontenac. Sold by Meteor-Mercury dealers, the trim compact weighed in at 1 088 kilos (2,400 pounds).

The small automobile became increasingly popular with consumers as the 1950s drew to a close. From St. John’s to Victoria, sales of new cars skyrocketed and 110,301 of them—a full 26.2 percent—came from abroad. 
1960 Volkswagen Beetle.

The top selling compact cars in 1959 were Volkswagen, Vauxhall, Rambler, Austin, Studebaker, Renault, Morris and Britain’s Fords. Big wheels were clearly in  danger of being crowded off the nation’s highways and byways; the Dominion Bureau of Statistics recorded that smaller passenger cars sold now accounted for nearly one out of every three new automobiles leaving dealers’ showrooms.

1960 Valiant was built in Windsor, Ontario.

The 1960 selling season would bring even more little choices. Chrysler Canada—having introduced the ‘Imported from Paris’ Simca last year—now added a new, smaller brand, built in Windsor, Ontario. The Valiant replaced the slow-selling De Soto in the corporate pentagram. 

Up the road in Oshawa, General Motors launched the rear-engined Corvair. The smallest Chev to wear the famous blue bowtie, this pint-sized puppy was designed to compete head-to-head with West Germany’s Volkswagen Beetle. 

Ford Falcon, sold by Ford-Monarch dealers, was Frontenac’s fraternal twin. 

Ford of Canada’s small car entry was one with a conventional engine and drivetrain layout. Ford Falcon was slated for Ford and Monarch dealers. Clearly, the Mercury-Lincoln-Meteor dealer body would require an offering of its own. In time-honoured Canadian fashion, the boys in Oakville created a new, badge-engineered brand, for Canadians only. Rather than making it a model of Meteor or Mercury, Frontenac was born.

The name for the stand-alone brand was chosen with care. Lord Frontenac was Governor of New France in the 1600s. His noble name graced  (and still does) one of the most magnificent and imposing hotels on the continent—Château-Frontenac in Quebec City. “The Frontenac is as Canadian as its name,” ad copy crowed. 

Coming or going, Frontenac was easily identified by its distinctive Canadian styling cues.  Front tread measured 1 397 millimetres (55 inches) and 1 384 millimetres (54.5 inches) at the stern. 
Frontenac’s entire introductory campaign was centred on the word ‘eventful’. An oversized preview poster arrived at dealerships in August of 1959 to build hype for the ‘eventful’ Frontenac by posing sixteen questions that marketing was sure burned within the hearts of potential purchasers. “When we called the Frontenac ‘eventful’ we meant it. It is an event when you get economy and living room comfort in just 181  sleek inches (459.74 centimetres) of Canadian-style car. It’s an event when you own a Frontenac—an event even a family of six can enjoy.”

 Frontenac was a crowd pleaser, selling a whopping  9,536 units in its only year of manufacture. 
John D. King, Ford Canada’s Vice-President and General Sales Manager added to the excitement of the upcoming event. On the 17th of September 1959, The Maurice Valley Chronicle, published in Trois-Riviérès, Quebec, quoted him as saying, “The Frontenac is being built in response to a growing interest among the Canadian motoring public for cars which have a distinctively Canadian identity.” He then added,”The major styling emphasis on this car has been to provide features which will make the car a stand-out in its field.”

Frontenac advertising emphasized that the new, smaller car was 4 597 millimetres (181 inches), bumper-to-bumper, had a wheelbase of 2 578 millimetres (100.5 inches) but it was not a junior model of the Meteor brand. 
Great pains were taken to let everyone know that this was not a junior Meteor. Frontenac was a stand-alone marque of its own. Ford of Canada wanted all the hoop-la associated with introducing a new brand of automobile—not a model of an existing make. 

1960 Ford Thunderbird convertible.

Frontenac may have been smaller but it was exceptionally capacious inside because of ‘the Ford family’s greatest experience in unit construction’. There was a lengthy explanation of what unit construction was and how it was employed in the Lincoln Continental and Ford Thunderbird.

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Economy was emphasized as an ‘eventful benefit’.  Frontenac’s engine offered ‘Canadian style performance’. The 2.4-litre (144-cubic inch), six-cylinder mill was placed in front of the passenger compartment. It was an event that Frontenac was powered by Canada’s newest 70 kW (95-horsepower) engine, one constructed of a specially-treated iron alloy with the weight-saving qualities of high-strength aluminum.  The engine’s short stroke measured 6.35 centimetres (2.5 inches)—a full 2.54 centimetres (one inch) shorter than the bore. 

For years, cars in Ford Canada’s stable listed an oil filter as extra-cost equipment.  Frontenac offered a flow-through oil filter as standard equipment. This promised to eliminate nine oil changes a year, as one could drive 6,400 kilometres (4,000 miles) between servicing. 

The Mileage-Maker Six was a gas miser. The fuel tank capacity was a generous 44 litres (11.7 Imperial gallons). 
Urban driving resulted in a a ‘sparkling’ average fuel consumption of 9.42L/100km (30 miles to the Imperial gallon) and even more on open roads. The preview bragged that it was an event when ‘just over a cent (an ancient Canadian coin) a mile (an ancient Canadian unit of distance) for gas should cover all the pleasure you’ll enjoy at the wheel’. Thrift was catapulted into the eventful category as 547 kilometres (340 miles) per tankful, calculated at a savings of 5 cents per 4.5 litres (for one Imperial gallon), were spotlighted.

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Canadians were crazy for automatic transmissions—40% of passenger vehicles on the Dominion’s highways and byways were equipped with such by 1959—according to Frontenac fanfare. While a fully synchronized, three-speed manual transmission with the ‘familiar shift pattern’ was standard equipment, a two-speed automatic transmission was available at ‘small extra cost’. The self-shifting unit was touted as being new and lightweight—thanks to an aluminum housing unit—making Frontenac more fun to drive. 

Engineers designed Frontenac to be durable. Tested for two years before arriving in dealers’ showrooms, information in the preview poster revealed: “Three completely separate series of tests were conducted. First, components such as the engine, transmission, suspension, axles and heater were tested in other cars  (for) hundreds of thousands of miles under Ford British bodies. Second, full mechanized prototypes drove all across the country. Lastly, complete and disguised prototypes were tested under every possible condition on the same type of roads that you drive on.”  In a nation where the Trans-Canada Highway consisted of vast stretches of gravel roadway, Frontenac stood up to the harshest of Canadian conditions. 

While it shared its body and mechanicals with Ford’s Falcon, stylists made Frontenac ’distinctively Canadian in every line’, a ‘ distinctively Canadian touch’. The grille was an elaborate three-piece affair. Single headlamps were located in a recessed, ovoid cove, flanking two finely-ribbed, concave rowing oar-look sections overlaid with a heavy chrome bar that extended horizontally to rectangular turn signals, nestled in the ends of the grille. At the very centre, a substantial chrome circle with a smaller one inside, was emblazoned with the quintessential symbol of all things Canadian—a maple leaf. The front bumper was upturned at the leading edge of the fenders and made a pleasant dip upwards at the centre to hold a front license plate. 

Front fenders carried prominent creases that ran to the cowl. The Frontenac script was front and centre at the lip of the hood, which was accented with a  raised scoop-look stamping. The flanks’ jaunty body creases evoked that of surfboards. Chrome spears adorned the front fenders aft of the wheelwells. Each was kissed with a circular chrome medallion that carried a maple leaf. Giving the impression of speed while standing still, a trio of chrome windsplits appeared on the trailing edge of the rear fenders. The rear wheelwells were cut low and disappeared altogether with the addition of optional fender skirts.  Above the beltline, a generous expanse of glass provided excellent vision with with no blind spots. Drivers and front seat passengers who smoked appreciated the vent windows.

From the rear, Frontenac’s bumper turned downward in a gently rounded curve at the ends, to cradle circular taillights ensconced in wide, flat chrome bezels that featured concentric rings. A concave body crease ran the entire width between the bumper and the trunk’s lip. Identifying Frontenac script was located on the right side.The chromed trunk handle did double duty as housing for the trunk lock.   Directly below it was the gasoline tank cap, a useful position regardless of which side of the gas pump one pulled up to at the Irving, B/A or Pacific 66 station. Trunk space in the sedans measured at a capacious .63 cubic metres (23 cubic feet)—‘large enough to hold seven average sized suitcases of a family on a trip’. 

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The Frontenac ride employed the latest technology, including independent front suspension with ball joints.  Double-acting hydraulic shock absorbers with built-in rebound control were mounted inside the springs (something Nash pioneered in 1940).   A link-mounted ride stabilizer bar minimized road sway on turns.  Rear suspension boasted five springs with diagonally mounted shocks.  The rear axle was hypoid, in a semi-floating banjo housing. The axle ratio was 3.10 to 1 with both the manual and automatic transmissions.

The car’s turning circle was less than 11.6 metres (38 feet) and could squeeze into a space as small as 459.74 centimetres (181 inches). The 43-centimetre (17-inch) diameter Safeguard Steering Wheel required only 4.6 turns, lock-to-lock, thanks to the recirculating ball mechanism, dubbed Magic-Circle.

Economy did not equal austerity. “It is an event when you can have all this comfort and and long-lasting value in a car. There is as much attention to interior styling, seating comfort and beauty of fabrics as any well designed car has received in the past.” Frontenac represented ‘the kind of comfort, luxury and quality to which the majority of Canadian drivers are accustomed. You don’t have to skimp to save in a Frontenac!’

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Safety was an event. Advertising focused on the superiority of unit construction,  Safety Door Locks, Safety Glass all around, available with a tinted strip across the top of the windshield serving as a sun visor, (optional), a Deep-Dish Steering Wheel that protected the driver from impalement by the rigid steering column in the event of collision, padding on the instrument panel (optional) and advanced, foolproof 28-centimetre (nine-inch) hydraulic brakes, now with 30 fewer previous parts to service at maintenance time. 

The fiercely efficient FreshAire heater was singled out for high praise. Designed to defy those dirty, wintery -40C days, only eight minutes from a cold start were needed to melt 6.35 millimetres (a quarter inch) of frost from the windshield. Frontenac’s mighty heater was said to be ‘more modern and efficient than those found in many larger cars’. Hot air in January was clearly eventful!

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Interiors received meticulous attention. The ‘comfortably high’ front bench seat was adjustable and designed for optimal back and leg support. Foam padding was a standard feature, found under durable  and easy-to-clean vinyl coverings. Frontenac’s upholstery was offered in a single hue: Colour-Planned Grey. The lone interior offering harmonized with any exterior colour choice.  However, it was an event to order optional, luxurious ‘elegant, easy-caring upholstery fabrics’ upon which to sit.  Green, Blue or Grey stain-resistant, metal-weave material were colour-keyed to exteriors. 

Passengers were promised big car, roomy comfort, enough for a half-dozen six-footers. The capacious cabin made for pleasurable long-distance treks, even those seated in the centre position.  Frontenac was exceptionally quiet, being ‘insulated to keep out dust, road noise and moisture under all Canadian conditions’. Attention to passengers’ comfort added up to another Frontenac event. 

Paint was offered in a wide range of hues. Oakville’s belle of the ball could be clad in any of nine colours: Raven Black, Corinthian White, Montecarlo Red, Skymist Blue (light), Belmont Blue (medium), Adriatic Green (light), Meadowvale Green (medium), Sultana Turquoise and Platinum. For those seeking something more eventful,  fourteen two-tone colour combos were available.

The newly formulated Lustre-baked enamel promised to keep Frontenac shiny bright, season after season. The twin curses of corrosion and rust were aggressively tackled. Galvanized steel was employed in much of the underbody, which could be coated—at a small cost—with zinc spray.  Inner rocker panels were coated in zinc, too. Even the muffler was ‘aluminized’ for a life twice as long as ordinary mufflers. Keeping road cancer at bay for as long as possible was truly eventful!

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Extra cost accessories designed for Frontenac included front door-operated courtesy lights, cigarette lighter, a rear seat ashtray, the manually tuned Economy Console (AM) radio, a foot pedal-operated Aquatic Windshield Washer-Wiper, electric wipers, the MagicAire heater/defroster, stylish Full-View side mirrors, a chrome-plated Non-Glare rearview mirror,  padded instrument panel, tinted windshield, luxurious interior fabrics,  whitewall tires, oversize 6.50x13 4-ply tires and stainless steel hub wheel covers. DeLuxe trim added brightwork to the windows, beltline and roofline. 

October the 8th, 1959 was the national day of unveiling. The date was chosen because it was a Thursday, just before the Thanksgiving Day weekend, something extra Canadians could be thankful for. Two models graced the dealership—a two and four-door sedan. The preview promised, “early next year there will be a completely new Frontenac station wagon with amazing roominess for both passengers and cargo.”

To make sure the word got out to the public, Meteor-Mercury-Frontenac dealers sponsored two TV shows on the CBC. Tuesday nights the network aired Startime, a 90-minute showcase of plays and anthologies—the best from the world of arts. On Thursday evenings, the dealers sponsored The Deputy, an American western series starring Henry Fonda. 

Largest in its class, the Frontenac wagons boasted a whopping 2.1 cubic metres (76 cubic feet) of cargo space (largest in its field) in both 2- and 4-door models.
When the Frontenac wagons did arrive, advertising was tight and punchy. “Canada’s own compact wagons, 2.1 cubic metres (76 cubic feet) of cargo space (largest in its field) in both 2- and 4-door models.”  In comparison, the Meteor Country Sedans and Ranchwagons afforded 2.7 cubic metres (97 cubic feet) of hauling space and the Mercury Country Cruisers an even larger 2.8 cubic metres (101.7 cubic foot capacity).  

The Meteor-Mercury-Frontenac wagon line up is showcased in this advert from Halifax area dealers. 
Frontenac “Stops quickly, smoothly, thanks to wagon-size brakes.” The tailgate window opened and close from the outside. Turning—and holding— the key in the lock, conveniently permitted the power-operated window to open and close automatically.

Mercury--Meteor—Frontenac dealers in all ten provinces carried parts and offered full service. Keeping life simple, publicity let the public know that every auto mechanic in the Dominion had the right tools, nuts and bolts to take care of a breakdown—not that it would ever happen. If travelling in the United States, Ford dealers were ready and able to help. 

Sourced from the UK, the 1960 Ford Anglia was popular with Canadians.

Sales of 9,536 Frontenacs, 17,152 Ford Falcons along with 15,149 British Fords and 775 German Fords added up to an astonishing 42,902 small car sales. That total surpassed domestic sales of full-sized Fords by nearly 12,000 units. Ford of Canada garnered 46 percent of all small-size cars in the Dominion. There was no doubt in Oakville that the compact car was here to stay.

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Despite Ford Canada’s phenomenal growth in the small car segment of the market, it came at the expense of Oakville’s big cars.  With only 30,687 full-sized Fords sold, the drop represented an 8.6 percent decline in a one-year period. The company did manage to remain profitable by selling off its Australian, New Zealand and South African subsidiaries.

While a 1961 Frontenac was planned--and made a cross-Canada trek-- it was scrapped at the last moment because management decided to replace it with the Mercury Comet.

Some 43,000 compacts had been built in Canada in 1960, another 18,000 shipped in from the US and 177,000 imported from Europe. Now, one out of every three automobiles sold in the country were—well—really small. Before Christmas recess, Parliament  was quick to overhaul importation regulations, in a bid to safeguard our domestic automobile industry.

1960 Envoy was a badge-engineered Vauxhall, available only in Canada. It was sold through Chev-Olds dealers.

Of the Top Ten selling passenger cars sold in calendar year 1960, half were compacts. Volkswagen earned third place with 31,146 sales; GM’s captive import Vauxhall took the Number Five Spot with 21,530 sales; Ford’s new Falcon enjoyed ninth place with 14,733 units sold and GM Canada’s new badge-engineered Envoy held down the tenth spot with 13,089 sales. 

Peter McKeen of Harrow, Ontario owns this beautiful 1960 Frontenac. Here is the car’s story in his own words. 

My earliest memories involve a Frontenac. My father's first ever brand new car was a Mist Blue, four- door Frontenac which he purchased in December of 1960 at Dingwall Motors Limited in nearby Windsor.  It was also his first ever Blue Oval automobile, which was ironic since Clair McKeen had graduated from the Ford Trade School as a pattern maker and had worked for the company as a skilled tradesman for nearly ten years. 

 My father’s Frontenac cost him $2,687 including the 13% federal Manufacturer’s Tax, Provincial Tax and the Ontario license plate fee from the Ministry of Motor Vehicles. Extras included zinc undercoating, outside mirrors, the heater and a cigar lighter. 

I remember long rides out to the country to visit my grandparents, often seated in the middle of the front seat. I was the youngest and it made sense that my short legs were a good match for the transmission 'hump' that divided the legroom in the front seat. I always wondered why the Frontenac had two brake pedals when our other car had only one. I later learned that the second brake pedal was actually the clutch and wasn't an extra safety feature in case Dad had to stop really, really fast.

In 1968, my grandfather passed away and my father acquired his nearly new 1967 Plymouth Fury III. (I can still vividly recall its new car smell to this day.) It was a good car for trailer towing and suited our growing family, so the little Frontenac  was parked in my grandmother's garage. Eventually her house was sold. With nowhere to store the Frontenac, my father offered it to new owners and it passed out of our family's hands forever.

In 1988, I was home for a visit when I noticed a Frontenac advertised under 'classics' in the Windsor Star classified ads.  My father was about to retire after 37 years with Ford and knowing he had regretted letting go of such a rare Canadian car, I suggested we go take a look.

It was a white two-door with red interior and a 'three-in-the-tree' manual transmission, with 45 061 original kilometres (28,000 miles) showing on the odometer and perfect upholstery in the back seat. The car was in overall good shape and reasonably priced. Thinking my father would want to buy it to tinker with in his retirement, I was surprised when he said very little on the trip home. Eventually he broke the silence and asked me, "if that car was yours, where would you keep it?"
I was living in a Toronto apartment and had just landed my first real job. I replied I would have to keep it at his place but that I couldn't afford the $2,500 asking price.  After a few more miles of silence, my father offered to loan me the money.  I figured I could swing an extra $100 month, so at long last, a Frontenac would be back in the family.

I phoned the current owner, George Boden and made him an offer of $1,900, which he accepted. He threw in a cotton car cover (which still protects the car to this day) and a box of spare parts he had accumulated, as well. I think George sensed the car was going to a good home. He told me the fascinating history of the car and how he acquired it.

The original owner was another Ford employee and George's neighbour, John Jackson. John purchased the car as a company executive demonstrator from Ford and drove it for five years. At some point during that time, John's wife passed away and he had the car repainted in funereal  black in memory and honour of her passing. 

He stopped driving it in 1965 and the Frontenac stayed put in his garage unused for 19 years until he passed away in 1984. At that point, John's daughter Patricia offered the car to George as thanks for being a good neighbour for so many years.

As the second owner, George got the car running and had it repainted to its original Corinthian White. He drove it for a few years and after buying a new house without a garage, he decided to sell it—and so—the Frontenac now had its third owner.

I have owned it (thanks to my father) for almost 30 years now and it is still in very good original condition although the odometer now reads over 70811 kilometres (44,000 miles). It still runs like a watch. Many people ask what year it is, thinking it is a Falcon, but the few who know what it is know it can only be a 1960—the only year Frontenac was ever on the market.

My father and I have kept it up over the years. We have twice been invited to display it at the Ford Product Development Centre in Dearborn Michigan. Our Frontenac has no less than nine red maple leaves that adorn the dog dish hubcaps, badging and horn button.  

Like the maple leaf flag, Our Frontenac is white and red and we are proud to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in it. 

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Copyright James C. Mays 2017 All rights reserved.