Volume IX, Number 5

Toy Toronado - the uncommon muscle car
by Doug Breithaupt

The introduction of the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado was a sensation. it was the first American car to offer front-wheel drive since the Cord. The styling was some of the most striking to come out of Detroit in the 1960's. This 'gentleman's muscle car' was unique and the darling of the automotive media. In that first year, the Toronado overshadowed every other car from General Motors, Ford Chrysler and AMC.

By 1967, the honeymoon was over. Cadillac offered the stylish FWD Eldorado and the Camaro and Firebird pony cars were GM darlings. The Toronado never managed to recapture the public attention. The second generation cars arrived in 1971 and while sales improved, enthusiasm for the car did not. The new Toronado was now a personal luxury coupe with plenty of power but less personality. Now, the Toronado was a junior Eldorado and there it remained.
In 1979, a new body style again boosted sales but the statement it made was 'I can't afford an Eldorado' and another re-design in 1986 was far less sucessful. The last Toronado came in 1992 and left with little fan-fare. After 26 years, the death of the Toronado foreshadowed the future of Oldsmobile which survived little more than another decade before GM killed the whole division.

Once the glow of the first Toronado grew dim, Oldsmobile allowed it to become just another car. The 'hammer in a velvet glove' became just one more change of shoes in the GM closet.

Toy versions of the Toronado have reflected the early enthusiasm for this car. Only one model of a post-1970 Toronado has ever appeared in small-scale. Recently, new examples of the Toronado have surfaced and this matches new interest in collector car circles.
I have owned several full-sized Toronado models over the years although all are gone now. I had a 1967 in gold with from bucket seats.

The most interesting Toronado I had was a 1970 GT. The GT was also identified as a W34. While the standard Toronado had 375 hp from the big 455 cu V8, the GT shared a high compression motor with the 442 W30, including solid lifters and dual exhaust. It had a great NASCAR rumble and was rated at 400 hp although that might have been a conservative estimate for insurance purposes. That much horsepower and torque over the front wheels was a bit over the top and could be very dangerous in the wet. Don't even ask about gas mileage.

For over 10 years I owned a 1972 Toronado Brougham. This was a lovely car and it provided many great miles and fond memories. These later Toronado models are a bargain as a budget collector model.

1966 Toronado - Aurora Cigar Box

1966 Toronado - Johnny Lightning

1966 Toronado - Siku

1967 Toronado - Siku

1967 Toronado - Johnny Lightning

1970 Toronado Custom - Topper

1970 Toronado Custom Johnny Lightning re-issue

1970 Oldsmobile Toronado GT W34

1978 Toronado XLR - Tomica