The first big front-wheel drive land yacht since the Cord 810 of the Thirties, the Toronado was an automotive milestone and the most desirable Olds ever. With a 425cid V8 and unique chain-and-sprocket-drive automatic transmission, it had big-car power, outstanding road manners, and could crack 135 mph (217 km/h).
Initial sales weren’t great, with sober buyers choosing the more conventional Riviera; but by ’71 the Riviera’s design had lost its way and the Toronado really came into its own, selling up to 50,000 a year until the mid-Seventies. From then on, however, the more glamorous Cadillac Eldorado outsold both the Riviera and the Toronado. Built on an exclusive slow-moving assembly line, Toronados had few faults, which was remarkable for such a technically audacious car. Even so, the press carped about poor rear visibility and lousy gas mileage. But time heals all wounds, and these days there’s no greater collector’s car bargain than a ’66–’67 Toronado.
The Toro was a dream car design. Despite sharing a basic body with other GM models like the Riviera and Eldorado, it still emerged very separate and distinctive. Automobile Quarterly called it “logical, imaginative, and totally unique,” and Motor Trade nominated it Car of the Year in 1966.
Front-wheel drive was a novelty in 1967 and was a break from the past for GM.
High engine temperatures and the huge Rochester 4GC four-barrel carb caused many under the hood fires.
Standard sticker price was $4,585; deluxe versions ran to $4,779.
Curved body was empowered by boldly flared wheel arches; unadorned front and rear tucked cleanly away.
Standard rubber was 8.85/15.
The torque converter was mounted behind the 425cid V8, and the gearbox under the left cylinder bank, with both connected by chain and sprocket. This arrangement enabled the engine to be placed directly over the front wheels.
The engine over the front wheels resulted in near-perfect weight distribution.
C-pillars swept gently downward, while the roof flowed smoothly into rakish fastback shape.
The Toronado was brisk, poised, and accurate. Understeer and front-wheel scrabble were kept to a minimum, and the car handled like a compact. Acceleration was in the Jaguar sedan league, and flat out it could chew the tail feathers of a Hi-Po Mustang.
Although an enormous car, the Toronado was a rakish fastback.
Twin exhausts provided the outlet for the 425cid’s grunt.
Standard equipment included Turbo Hydra-Matic tranny, power steering and brakes, Strato-bench front seat, deluxe armrests, rear cigarette lighters, foam seat cushions, and interiors in vinyl, leather, or cloth.
NOVEL FRONTAL STYLE
The concealed headlights and horizontal bar grille were genuinely innovative but would disappear in ’68 for a heavier and less attractive front-end treatment. The Toronado’s design arose in a free-expression competition organized by Olds in 1962. It became the company’s top model to date, and the equivalent of the Buick Riviera. The Toronado was GM’s first commitment to front-wheel drive, which would become a corporate theology by 1980.
Unique retractable headlights were classic first-generation Toro.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Oldsmobile Toronado (1967)
BODY STYLE Two-door, five-seater coupe.
CONSTRUCTION Steel body and frame.
ENGINE 425cid V8.
POWER OUTPUT 385 bhp.
TRANSMISSION Three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic.
SUSPENSION Front: torsion bar; Rear: leaf springs with solid axle.
BRAKES Front and rear drums.
MAXIMUM SPEED 135 mph (217 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 8.5 sec
A.F.C. 11 mpg (3.9 km/l)