Oldsmobile Toronado - Toybox

By: Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

toronado fr34 Oldsmobile Toronado toronado fr34
tornado clockls Oldsmobile Toronado tornado clockls
toronado eng Oldsmobile Toronado toronado eng
toronado int toronado int
toronado lhs Oldsmobile Toronado toronado lhs
toronado r34 Oldsmobile Toronado toronado r34

Rare and unusual big front-wheel-drive

toronado fr34.jpg


IT WOULD be way too easy to dismiss this 1968 coupe as another oddball American, and you’d be doing the car a serious dis-service. In fact Oldsmobile and parent company GM threw a lot of resources at developing this car, to the point where it has a famously tough drivetrain.


toronado eng.jpg


That’s partly a symptom of being a front-wheel-drive in a traditionally rear-wheel market, so the boffins in GM’s engineering department knew they had to get this one right. Initially based on the 425ci (7.0lt) Rocket V8, which claimed 385 horses (287kW), the popwertrain ran a specially-developed Turbo Hydramatic 400 tansmission (dubbed TH425) operating as a transaxle.

General Motors claimed it did 1.5 million test miles with the rig, which it labelled the Unitized Power Package. It went on, with minimal mods, to power the company’s motorhomes and a version was developed by Cadillac for the new FWD Eldorado.


toronado lhs.jpg


You get the sense that despite a long history of producing FWD cars (ever heard of Cord?), the American motor industry was still a long way from being entirely comfortable with the idea.


toronado r34.jpg


With that sort of background and expense, you’d expect a Toronado to be something a bit special, which was the whole idea of the model. It was Oldsmobile’s entry into the ‘Personal Luxury’ car segment and was a new package from the ground up.

Engineering indulged in one or two design quirks (well, for GM at least), such as the use of torsion bars for the front suspension, to overcome the limited remaining space in an already crowded front end.


tornado clockls.jpg

There were some individual touches in the cabin. Most famous is the ‘slot machine’ speedo where the indicator line was stationary against a rotating drum of numbers.


toronado int.jpg


It won a few awards along the way, with some testers liking the handling and it actually sold pretty well with some 40,000-plus finding new owners in the first year.

This example is with the Healey Factory in sunny Melbourne. It’s lived much of its life in collections, is said to be in exceptional condition, and is priced at $49,500.


toronado r34.jpg


Sell your car for free right here

Unique Cars auction results listing

Unique Cars magazine Value Guides

Get our newsletter, packed with all the latest toys and tips

Subscribe to the print mag and save, here


Subscribe to Unique Cars Magazine and save up to 39%
Australia’s classic and muscle car bible. With stunning features, advice, market intelligence and hundreds of cars for sale.