Emerged as a full-size luxury car and directly competing with the Ford Thunderbird, the Oldsmobile Toronado stayed in history as the first front-wheel-drive vehicle made in the United States since the 1937 Cord 812 Automobile.
Source: Vintage Car Collector
This model was an automotive blockbuster of 1966 when it first hit the market. This personal-luxury coupe heralded the return of front-wheel drive and made headlines in every major car magazine and national newsweeklies. It was the largest car in this class ever made: a large, personal luxury coupe with a full-size 119-inch wheelbase and over two tons of weight. Skeptics were sure front-wheel-drive would never work on such a heroic scale. However, Oldsmobile proved them wrong – and did it beautifully.
Source: The Last Detail
The history of the Toronado coupe goes back to the mid-1950s. Since 1954, General Motors engineers had been developing a promising power module, consisting of a 7-liter engine, automatic transmission, and differential. It was originally planned to put this block on one of the compact Oldsmobile models, but marketers were against it. Therefore, as a result, they began to develop a new chassis. Engineers combined the developed block with a unique front-wheel-drive chassis. Led by talented engineer John Belts, the block project was ready by 1958. For the USA, this was a breakthrough, as before it only 2 front-wheel-drive cars were produced in the US market – Cord and Ruxton, both at the turn of the 1920s and 30s, both not commercially successful. The new coupe was supposed to be produced in large volumes. The designers combined the developed chassis with the body, which was based on a sketch that won in the company’s design competition. The design was led by David North and Bill Mitchell. As a result, a beautiful vehicle of attractive proportions was released with a sloping roof, massive rear pillars, a wide-body, accentuated wheel arches, hidden headlights, and a long hood. The car got its name in one of the 1963 Chevrolet show cars. The name was derived from the words toro (“bull”) and “tornado”. It was presented to the public on July 29, 1965, and entered dealerships on September 24.
In the 60s, no American car remained unchanged for more than two years, and the Toronado was no exception. Early 1966-1967 models were distinguished by an elegant fastback roof that smoothly transitioned into the trunk lid and expanded downwards. The stern with horizontal lights resembled the truncated tail of Kammback. Massive hardtop doors facilitated access to a low but spacious 6-seater saloon with a completely flat floor. Inside, the Oldsmobile Toronado had a telescopic steering wheel with two triangular spokes and an unusual speedometer with a fixed needle and a rotating drum. Standard equipment included front and rear seat belts, carpeting, an electric clock, two-speed windshield wipers, reversing lights, and a Draft-Free ventilation system; the Deluxe version offered Strato bucket seats and additional chrome moldings. The 2-door 6-seater coupe had 5359 mm of length and a width of 2007 mm: the weight was 2118 kg. The 7.5-liter V8 engine developed 385 hp. and allowed to accelerate to 217 km / h, exchanging the first “hundred” in 7.5 s! By the standards of the mid-1960s, it was a real sports car! Thanks to the front-wheel-drive layout, the car turned out to be stable and very well controlled. An independent torsion bar suspension stood on the front and the dependent leaf spring on the rear. The brakes were originally drum brakes on all wheels, but since 1967 disc brakes have been offered as an option for the front wheels.
Source: Dragone Classic Motorcars
A modified 1967 Toronado by Barris Kustom was built for the filming of Desilu Productions’ detective series Mannix. The Toronado Roadster was designed for protagonist Joe Mannix. In the first two episodes, Mannix can be seen driving conventional Mercury and Ford sedans, but then a 1967 Toronado Barris Kustom Roadster appeared and tire-screeching car chases filled the series.
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