1 IT INTRODUCED THE US TO FRONT-DRIVE
The 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado was the first mass-produced front-wheel drive car from a US manufacturer. But the 1936 Cord 810/812 series came first with FWD, but only 3000 largely handbuilt examples were produced, whereas over 40,000 Toronados were sold in its first year. The front-wheel driveline underwent 1.5 million miles of testing over seven years from 1958. The 7.0-litre V8 was mounted longitudinally and offered with a three-speed GM Turbo-Hydramatic auto.
2 IT WAS INTENDED TO BE A PLUSH GT
The shapely four-seater coupé, with its sleek lines, prominent wheelarches and retractable headlights, wasn’t intended as a production car at all. Oldsmobile designer David North simply did a painting in 1962 of his own fantasy idea for a Ford Thunderbird competitor. It wasn’t even built as a concept car. Oldsmobile bosses in Detroit pounced on the artwork and insisted it be scaled-up so it could share parts with the much larger (than the Thunderbird) Buick Riviera – something North neither wanted nor liked.
3 ALL SHOW, NO GO
The Toronado, with its meaningless name, looked very futuristic at its 1966 debut. Firestone developed bespoke lowprofile 15in tyres for the car, called the TFD and given distinctive pinstripe white-walls. With a 0-60mph time of 7.5sec and 135mph top speed, it was a fast car. There was, however, a major misjudgement in the original 1966 specification – the Toronado was fitted with all-round drum brakes that could suffer serious fading under hard use. That was fixed for the 1967 model year but, by then, the purity of the original body styling was already under assault.
The Toronado went from 0-60mph in 7.5sec, but braking was a problem.