The Oldsmobile Toronado

When you take a look at the Oldsmobile Toronado, the first fun fact to consider is the name of the vehicle itself. What is a “Toronado?” Is it a city in Spain, or a bullfighting term? Is it the translation of the word “tornado” in Portuguese? Well, the mystery is unveiled here today. The word Toronado actually references nothing at all. Someone at Chevrolet attached the name to a prototype back in 1963, and it was slapped onto the Oldsmobile division’s entry into the personal luxury car market that made its debut for the 1966 model year.

The Toronado was designed by David North, and it took seven years to get from the drawing board to the assembly line. Aside from our tongue-in-cheek look at the car’s name, a truly significant fact about the Toronado is that it was a front-wheel drive vehicle. The last time that a car with front-wheel drive was offered by a domestic automobile manufacturer was in 1937 when the Cord L-29 was being marketed.

The 1966 Toronado was powered by the Olds 425 cubic inch 385 horsepower V8 that was dubbed the “Super Rocket.” This engine produced a zero to sixty time of 7.5 seconds, and it could cover a quarter of a mile in 16.4 seconds, reaching 93 miles per hour while doing so. Largely due to the daring reintroduction of front-wheel drive and the innovative Turbo-Hydramatic transmission, the 1966 Olds Toronado received a number of honors from the automotive intelligentsia, including the Motor Trend Car of the Year award.

Sales of the 1966 Toronado reached 40,963, nothing staggering, but not a bad total for the car’s first year of production. You might think that all of the accolades would lead to a big uptick in 1967, but to the chagrin of the brain trust at Oldsmobile, that didn’t happen. They sold just about 22,000 units that sophomore season, and never surpassed 40,000 gain until the second generation of the Toronado was introduced in 1971.

The Toronado went through a third and fourth generation as well, and the model was finally discontinued after the 1992 model year, so it had a very nice run. The early specimens of the Oldsmobile Toronado are valued among collectors today. In 2009 a totally restored 1966 Olds Toronado sold at auction for $68,750.

Contributed by Fossil Cars Staff Writer

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