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Historic 1963 Pearson Buick to undergo $100,000 restoration thanks to General Motors of Canada donation

Pearson Buick General Motors Canadian Automotive Museum

The 1963 Buick owned by former Prime Minister Lester Pearson will be restored.
Photo courtesy Elle Alder

Dale JohnsonA 1963 Buick owned by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson is going to be restored, thanks to a donation of $100,000 by General Motors of Canada.

The car was acquired last year by the Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, where it will be displayed after the restoration. The donation for the restoration project is the largest gift the museum has ever received.

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The Pearson Buick had been stored outside for decades before being donated to the museum. It will require substantial bodywork because of major rust damage. It also needs a new windshield and new tires.

The Pearson Buick restoration project will result in sharing the stories of the unique Oshawa-built car, as well as Pearson’s legacy.

“Our world-class collection of Canadian vehicles allows us to tell a wide range of stories from the origins of the Canadian automobile to that of Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson,” said Alexander Gates, Executive Director and Curator of the Museum.

The Buick will be restored to meet current road safety standards so it can be driven and displayed at public events. The restoration is expected to be completed in the spring of 2024.

“We are proud to support the restoration of Mr. Pearson’s one-of-a-kind Buick and our ongoing partnership with the Canadian Automotive Museum,” said Kristian Aquilina, vice president, G.M. Canada Sales, Service and Marketing.

There’s no other Buick like this one because it combines the frame of a Buick LeSabre sedan with the engine of a Buick Wildcat, exterior components from the Buick Electra and interior elements from Cadillacs. The car has many ornate features befitting a head of state, most notably the Coat of Arms of Canada emblems on the rear doors.

This new state limousine was ordered by the Prime Minister’s Office from General Motors of Canada and was delivered in May 1963.

It was donated to the Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa, Ontario, last year, after having been left outdoors for years.
Photo courtesy Elle Alder

“This limousine was handbuilt in our Oshawa Assembly Plant, holding an important place in both G.M. and Canadian history, and we appreciate the Museum’s efforts to ensure that story will be told for years to come,” Aquilina added.

The Canadian Automotive Museum, founded in 1963, is a private, not-for-profit charity that maintains the world’s most significant collection of Canadian automobiles. The museum is in downtown Oshawa in a former 1920s auto dealership building.

While Pearson was Prime Minister – between 1963 and 1968 – universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan and the maple leaf flag were introduced. Pearson signed the 1965 Canada-U.S. Auto Pact with U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, ensuring the survival of the Canadian auto-manufacturing industry.

Dale Johnson is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who has worked in TV, radio, print and online. 

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