Toronado – Pioneering American Luxury Coupe
The Toronado stands out as one of GM’s most advanced vehicles of the 1960s both mechanically and stylistically. Introduced in 1966, the swoopy Toronado wowed buyers with its audacious “rocket” styling and innovative front-wheel-drive technology unseen in an American production car. Under the skin, a mammoth 425-cubic-inch V8 motivated the Toronado with quiet authority. During its run until 1992, the flagship Toronado combined technical innovation with dramatic personal luxury style to push boundaries within GM’s lineup.
America’s First Front-Wheel-Drive Production Car
The most radical aspect of the 1966 Toronado was placing the drivetrain and front suspension underneath the passenger compartment for front-wheel-drive. This broke from the conventional rear-drive layout used by every American car. Packaging the bulky powertrain required extensive engineering efforts by Oldsmobile, but paid off in a lower, more spacious body and reduced noise intrusion. Overnight, the front-wheel-drive Toronado leapfrogged GM to the forefront of mainstream engineering innovation in America.
Distinctive Flair Inside and Out
Oldsmobile also embraced flair in the Toronado’s styling, which flowed from the dramatic grill and slit-like headlamps back to the sharply creased rear. The long fastback roofline cut a low, aggressive profile. Inside, the swooping dash wrapped around into the door panels, surrounding occupants in space-age style. liberal chrome trim highlighted its luxurious intent. The upholstered bucket seats and floor-mounted shifter completed the cockpit ambiance. The Toronado conveyed personal luxury through unique style and comfort.
Substantial Power on Tap
Providing motivation was a new 425 cubic-inch V8 exclusive to the Toronado. Making 385 horsepower, it rocketed the two-door coupe from 0-60 mph in just 7.5 seconds – very rapid for the times. The enormous motor drank fuel voraciously but delivered authoritative torque output that suited the Toronado’s luxury grand touring focus over all-out performance. Lesser V8s joined the range over time, but serious Toronados always featured potent powerplants.
Toronado Well-Rounded Dynamics
Underneath the flamboyance, this car delivered a well-tuned package. Variable-ratio power steering provided a tight turning radius despite its length. The low stance and front-engine weight-biased handling, enable responsive cornering for a boulevard cruiser. In 1967, front disc brakes improved stopping distances considerably. Oldsmobile gave the Toronado legitimate performance chops to back up its styling panache and engineering accolades.
Pillarless Hardtop Design
It helped popularize the pillarless hardtop body style marked by frameless door glass. This enhanced its sleek, modern profile by eliminating window frames. Power windows and AGM’s clamshell ventilation system enabled this aerodynamic shape. The airy greenhouse amplified interior light while banishing divisive center pillars. The smooth roofline flowed uninterrupted from front to rear in a continuous curve. The pillarless doors highlighted the Toronado’s seamless style.
Toronado Lasting Influence on American Luxury
The radical Toronado proved highly influential over its 26-year lifespan through 1992. Its front-wheel-drive engineering was adopted across GM brands during the 1980s. The personal luxury styling themes shaped the industry’s premium coupes well into the 1990s. During an era when American luxury-focused more on power and size, the innovative one pioneered bringing technical sophistication, aerodynamic style, and drivability together in a compelling package.