“The only thing the Toronado has in common with any other car is the road,” modestly proclaimed the ad accompanying the car’s launch. Beyond this naive boast, the car should be recognized as a pioneer of front-wheel drive in the United States (in the modern era), as well as the recurrence of Oldsmobile’s innovative character within General Motors.
Isn’t the best tradition to innovate? The Toronado paved the way for Cadillac, the group’s prestige brand, whose Fleetwood Eldorado launched in 1967 was the first front-wheel drive. Other brands would follow in the wake of the Toronado and eventually the entire U.S. auto industry would be affected.
Officially presented on October 14, 1965, the Toronado hides a real technical feat under its enormous hood. The 385 hp from its seven-liter V8 (425 c.i.) make it the most powerful front-wheel drive car in automotive history. But that’s not the only trait of his somewhat megalomaniacal personality, which is also reflected in his impressive proportions (5.36 meters long, 2 meters wide and over 2.1 tons).
The beautiful futuristic lines of the Toronado make it one of the American design masterpieces of the second half of the century. The purity and simplicity of its streamlined silhouette are particularly remarkable. In profile, the rear overhang balances the front, which is cleverly handled despite its length, an effect accentuated by the symmetry of the bumper returns on the sides. But the best part of this design is probably the back. We will praise the sublime curve of the fastback and the finesse of the receding stern. At that time, General Motors took special care of the rear of its cars, of which the Buick Riviera is another eloquent example.
Despite its size, the Toronado’s sporty, GT-like shape hints at brutal performance. The aggressive front end and the blind front end, due to the presence of hydraulically operated retractable headlights, compose the strange face of a wild beast. The fenders, extended by prominent chrome, frame a discreet grille adorned with fine blades. The highly sculpted wheel arches, which emerge from the sides, also lend credence to the idea of power ready to be unleashed. In this regard, we note the designer’s ability to lighten and give rhythm to the bridge by hollowing out the sides. At the rear, grilles evacuate the air circulating in the cabin, while a large trunk accommodates the spare tire at the very back.
Designed to seat five, the Toronado can easily accommodate six basketball players on its wide vinyl, leather or fabric seats (your choice). The low seat height does not help visibility, especially towards the rear where the quarter panel forms a blind spot. The front seat is electrically adjustable, as is the steering wheel, which can be adjusted in three dimensions.
The beveled instrument panel, for safety, features a horizontal drum tachometer housed in a square display. It is framed by four rectangles housing the oil pressure gauge, fuel gauge, ammeter and water temperature gauge. The complete equipment also includes electric windows, an adjustable exterior rearview mirror from the cabin and air conditioning, but as an option. The eye is drawn to the huge pedals, especially the strange trapezoidal shape of the accelerator pedal.
On the road, the Toronado does not go unnoticed, despite its impressive silence, which only lets you hear the warm, muffled purr of the V8 during heavy acceleration. Voted “Car of the Year” by U.S. Motor Trend magazine and considered the best of the “personal cars” by Car and Driver magazine, the “Toro”, as it is colloquially known, was popular from the moment it was launched – its production reached 40,963 units in its first year of production.
Its first public appearance in Europe was at the 1965 Paris Motor Show, where it was one of the stars. Offered in France at an exorbitant price, the Toronado represented at the time more than three and a half times the price of a DS 21 Automatic and more than twice the price of a Ford Mustang 4.7 liters (with superior performance). Not to mention the tax consequences of its 40 fiscal horses, the cost of insurance and consumption…
Source : Motorlegend
This example, purchased in 2017 in the USA, was completely restored afterwards both in terms of the bodywork, and the mechanics. The original dark green color was favorably replaced by Azure Blue, also an original shade in 1966.
Watch Jay Leno’s Toro presentation