Oldsmobile Toronado – 1966

The demise of the Starfire left a hole at the top of the Oldsmobile range, which was swiftly filled with a new speedmobile. The Toronado two-door fastback coupe was a good example of a practice that would later become common – making up a model name that meant nothing but had a vaguely feel good ring.

Later on, of course, marketing consultancies would be paid millions for thinking up suitable words, but this one was all General Motors’ own work – and better still recycled, having been previously used for a concept car from GM stablemate Chevrolet.

The choice of ‘Toronado’ must have been inspired, or made by the boss, because it stayed around until the 1990s. This meant several complete reinventions, but first generation models stayed around for the rest of the 1960s. Olds were sanctioned by GM to build a full-size personal luxury car to compete with the Buick Riviera and Ford T-Bird. The resulting Toronado shared a platform with the Buick Riviera and Cadillac Eldorado, though styling differed and the Olds has one unique selling point – front-wheel drive.

This bold leap had necessitated lengthy development, as Oldsmobile couldn’t risk a stain on its corporate escutcheon. The preparation paid off, with the Toronado’s UPP (Unitized Power Package) working like a dream. For standardization purposes it could not have an engine bay larger than that of a comparable rear-wheel drive car. The job was done, even though the power plant was a 7 litre Super Rocket V8. This was teamed with new Turbo-Hydramatic transmission to deliver fantastic performance for a heavy car, though the drum brakes were suspect and a disc option swiftly appeared. An enhanced W-34 option pack was offered from 1968, as was a larger engine, but otherwise the Toronado remained virtually unchanged until the entirely restyled second generation appeared in 1970.




1966 (until 1970)


7.0 I (425 cid) or 7.6 l (455 cid) V8


Top speed of 130 mph (209 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8 secs


The booming 1960s stretched limo market saw the Toronado customized as the 28 ft (8.5 m) ACQ Jetway 707 – it could comfortably seat a dozen people, had eight doors, six wheels, two axles, an enclosed cargo area and unique raised roof with side windows. It is thought that around 100 were made.


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