VINTAGE ADS: The 1974 Pontiac Astre Takes Canada

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The US market didn’t get the Pontiac Astre until model year 1975, but Canada had it before that, and we love this vintage brochure picturing the Astre gallivanting across the country.

The Astre was Pontiac’s version of the star-crossed Chevrolet Vega, which hit the US market for the 1971 model year. Canada received a Pontiac version for 1973, then the US got it in 1975.

The differences between the Astre and Vega were primarily trim-related. But in the 1977 model year, the Vega/Astre’s final one, the Astre took a giant step forward from its Vega brethren by dumping the cruelly mis-named “Dura-Built” 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine with the more reliable 2.5-liter “Iron Duke” four.

But that improvement was still three years off, and so the Canadians pictured below probably heard the hammering of the “Dura-Built” a block from the Astre’s arrival.

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But let’s put aside the thoughts of punishing noise levels and persistent unreliability. It’s time to admire the Astre’s attractive lines as they’re posed against some very comely Canadian scenery.

The brochure’s cover starts us off in historic Quebec City with an Astre hatchback, and then we flip it open and switch immediately to the modern Toronto skyline and an Astre two-door sedan.

The background’s sly insertion of matching orange aims to make this Astre hatchback below look at home at it “swings” through chic downtown Montreal.


Now it’s time to hit the great outdoors at High Falls, Ontario. Although it seems odd that the sporty Astre GT wagon and hatchback were chosen for this duty. Why get the nicer ones all muddy?


This hatch tent strikes us as a great idea…


…although then we’d miss out on the Astre wagon’s neat styling. The Vega version was called the Kammback for its creased rear shaping.


We can ponder the purpose of the vertical rub strips on the Astre wagon’s hatch door while noting the very ’70s colors of these two against the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Vancouver.


There’s none of that ’70s fabulousness in this appliance-white Astre Panel, and the brochure doesn’t disclose its location. Bumper rub strips and hubcaps aside, it’s hard to imagine a more basic car than this.


REALLY basic – it’s all work and no play in there. The Astre Panel’s sole seat looks flat enough to punish even the most flexible backs.


Ah, that’s better. Earth tones, plaid cloth framed by vinyl – this is the Astre’s sweet spot.


You’d pay more for this Custom Interior, and you’d get padded door panels, along with a flippable day-night mirror (remember when cars didn’t automatically come with them?) and more sound insulation. But, then you’d miss out on the plaid.


The Astre’s dimensions show just what a downsized Impala the Astre/Vega was in concept. A long hood and swoopy lines stretched to a 175.9-inch length, but rear legroom is a toddler-sized 30.4 inches in the hatchback. Today’s Mini Cooper has 30.8 inches for legs in the rear, and its 151.1-inch length is shorter by more than 20 inches.



Besides showing an attractive but flawed car against pretty scenery, part of the point of this brochure was to show the Astre woven into Canada’s fabric, and it succeeds. It makes us want to do more Canadian traveling, but the jury is still out as to whether finding a good-condition Astre would be worth the potential problems within.

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Brochure source: