1969 Oldsmobile Toronado 455 Barn Find

When it debuted for 1966, the Oldsmobile Toronado would be the first U.S.-made front-wheel drive car since the Cord in 1937. It would share GM’s E-platform with the Buick Riviera and Cadillac Eldorado for much of its time in production. This 1969 edition – which appears to have been out of circulation for 30 to 40 years – is a project that will need a lot of time and money to get it right again. It’s available in Spokane, Washington and here on eBay where the starting bid has been set at $999.99 without a reserve price.

Buick rolled out the Riviera in ’63 as its personal luxury model and it was followed by Oldsmobile and the Toronado in ’66 and Cadillac and the El Dorado in ’67. Buick used conventional rear-wheel drive, while Olds and Cadillac opted to go the front-wheel drive route. Produced over four generations, the Toronado first became known for its transaxle version of the Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission. The Toronado was perceived to be ahead of its time in 1966 and won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award during its first outing. The ’69 edition of the Toronado was the next-to-to-last during the car’s first generation and total production that year was better than 28,000 units.

Little is known about the history of this rather forlorn 1969 Olds Toronado. The seller describes it as a “real barn find” but doesn’t tell us why or how. He thinks it hasn’t been registered since the early 1980s, but it’s been sitting somewhere for 40 years. The odometer is hovering around 86,000 miles. The rather baked original paint looks to be Topaz Metallic, a factory color in 1969. The car looks to have had a vinyl top at one point, which peeled off long ago. The sheet metal looks okay overall, although the brightwork has some dents and dings. Rust has penetrated the body where the vinyl roof was and near a wheel opening, plus surface rust here and there.

There aren’t many photos of the interior, but what we see looks largely trashed. Even the sheet or blanket over the front seat bottom has started to rot. The headliner appears to be falling down and the carpet is likely shot, but you’d have to clean the car out first to be sure. I had the exact same discount store steering wheel cover on my 1970 Chevy Nova.

We’re not privy visually to what’s going on under the hood, but what should be there is Oldsmobile’s 455 cubic inch V-8 that put out 375 hp. As heavy as the Toronado was, it still should had been able to chirp the front tires under hard acceleration. We’re told it’s not running now and no mention is made of what might be needed to change that. If it was parked in the early 1980s, that was likely due to some mechanical malfunction that wasn’t addressed. The seller offers two videos of the car. The first is of the car’s exterior, and the second is of the car’s interior.

This is one of those auctions where the product was put out there for all to see and no one’s taken a nibble – yet. For as little as the $1,000 starting bid, someone could acquire this large car and begin work on bringing it back to life. Hagerty suggests that well-kept examples of these Toronado’s can go for $25-35,000. So, you could have a lot of room to work with before being over-invested.

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    “Vehicle sold as neglected, where neglected”.

    Like 12
    • RonY

      ……..neglected would’ve been someone sending it to the scrapyard in 1982, ……thanks to whoever didn’t do that. At least its here where someone can get it going again or at least for all the good parts here, not a bad looking body…

      Like 8
      • bone

        Well its at one now , so if it doesn’t sell it will be heading to crushed and shipped to China

        Like 1
    • JP

      “Neglected when parked” – good slogan…

      Like 2
  2. alphasud Member

    Yea, that one is pretty far gone. I would be looking for a rusted donor with a good interior. I prefer the 66-67 model years over this one. Another interesting fact is GM used this powertrain for their RV so I think it could be said that THM425 was overbuilt. The engineers were worried the chain drive in the transaxle would stretch so they beefed it up.

    Like 6
  3. PaulG

    With this era of Oldsmobile / Cadillac / Buick engines it was all about the torque, not necessarily HP.
    This 455 should be good for around 500 ft. lb.
    Not the most attractive version of the first gen bus I think if it’s available for less than 2k or so, a lot of car (and work) for the $$

    Like 3
  4. Rhett

    I like these cars, very handsome and the 68-69 is my favorite era. I had a friend who had one that we took in trade back in the 80’s – it was scary fast and so incredibly nose heavy, everything from the cowl back was just along for the ride…it was like driving a flag. But Christ it was putting out every one of those base-spec 375 horses.

    Like 4
  5. JoeNYWF64

    I didn’t realise this & the eldorado have monoleaf spring rear suspension!
    I guess it’s a simpler setup then coil springs. Possibly the only front drive cars ever with rear leaf springs?

    Like 2
    • Poppy

      I think they had torsion bars up front, too.

      Like 1
  6. Arby

    Make a good roach motel.

  7. Ted Miller

    Does anyone remember the 66-67 Toranado convertible that Mannix drove when the show first started? That was one ugly car with the top off!

    Like 5
    • jeff

      no but I used to watch mannix,, liked it

      Like 2
  8. Jack

    That pretty much resembles most of the cars from the 60s to 80s. Cars during this time started falling apart or needing big mechanical work. This vehicle just never made it to the car crusher. This model reminds me of my dad. He was into Toronados from 68 to 83. He bought 4 of them in that period 68, 73, 76, 83. The 76 was by far the worst of the bunch.

    Like 1
  9. jeff

    Its a 425ci 375 hp or 385 if upgraded very potent engins,,that’s what should have gone into the 442-s had a 65 starfire with a 425 wowdo it go

    Like 3
  10. John

    I thought the 455 didn’t come out ’til 1970–but I could very well be mistaken. Either in ’69 or ’70 there was a GT version that must have been awesome!

    Like 2
    • md

      John, the 455 became standard in 1968. The W-34 option was available in ’68, ’69, and ’70. In 1970, the W-34 option included a GT emblem on the front of the hood and dual exhaust with bumper cut outs. W-34 cars got a 400 hp version of the 455 with a special cam shaft, bigger valves, special transmission with a higher stall torque converter, and special body striping. ’68 and ’69 cars came with cold air induction via ducting attached to the air filter.
      http://automotivemileposts.com/toronado/toronado1968w34.html

      Like 2
      • K. R. V. Member

        Thanks for the link! Very informative! I had the pleasure of owning a Toronado, although not an early example, mine was of the high compression premium gas variety. It was a 1971, that had only 48,000 miles on it in 1981, when I bought it for only $1,000!! Back then anything other than a truck that got only 10-14 mpg when driven sanely at the speed limits, wasn’t worth much. But man was that an amazing car to drive! All I needed was add new brake pads/shoes to get it to pass inspection. But seeing as I had another thousand left over I decided to add a few other cool features, like new rear springs that were listed for an full sized Olds 9pass wagon, that raised the rear about an inch, then I cranked up the torsion bars to raise the front, added the best shocks I could find all around with huge tires, actually two sets of huge tires and wheels I found in a junk yard, so I could have a set of 4 huge mud and snow tires I found used for sale cheap, because two were studded, but the studs were worn down, but I put them on the front and between the slight lift and those tires? That was the only two wheel drive car out in the heavy snow, on more than one occasion! That car had so much room! I remember out one night with a buddy of mine and four girls! Just cruising around!

        Like 2
  11. Arthur

    The seller should consider selling it to Jay Leno, especially since he has a Toronado of his own, albeit a 1966 model. He had his people give it a custom chassis, a 1,000 HP GM engine and custom wheels designed to look like the stock wheels … a perfect sleeper.

    I could easily see him doing the same thing to THIS Toronado if he was so inclined.

  12. Jonathan Q Higgins

    This vintage of Toronado is one of my bucket list cars. Thankfully it’s across the country so I won’t be tempted.

    Like 1
  13. fran

    Check out that rear spring. Something funny about that. Can you please blow up the tires and make it look just a little, no lot better??? People are so lazy.

    Like 1
  14. Bob Roller

    OK.So big bucks are spent to restore this car.Beyond being another used car just why would anyone want to do it.?.

    • Jonathan Q Higgins

      This is one of those cars that look better in person. It predates me by a year so I don’t have memories of them on the streets. I saw one in person for the first time last year. It just has nice lines

      Like 1
  15. pwtiger

    The author of this write-up says that Hagerty suggests that well-kept examples of these Toronado’s can go for $25-35,000. That sounds Very optimistic, I doubt that a low mile original example would fetch $15K, maybe more for a first year 1966. GM ruined the front with that bumper…

    Like 1
  16. Steve

    I had a 66,425 with vacuum secondary Rochester, I believe the drum brakes were 12 inch and would not stop the car in any less than 3 foot ball fields, had a double roe ball bearing for the front wheel , even in 1980 they were hard to come by,I believe in 67 they went to a ball joint Timken taper bearing front end..She was one smooth ride I loved to smoke the front wheel 15-inch tires..As you put your foot in it the speedo would go up and the gas gauge would go down at the same rate, great car..I do miss it .No chumps here this is a mans car and I was a boy,just could not afford to fed the puppy.

    Like 1
  17. K. R. V. Member

    Oh yea! I had a great running low mileage 1971 Toronado, that I bought cheap in 81, as anything getting 8-15 mpg was dirt cheap even back then. But man did that barge ever MOVE! I could light up both front tires from a dead stop in dry pavement at ease and had the speedo buried more than once! The two winters I had it were particularly bad in R. I. But with new radial belted huge mud&snow tires all the way around I found cheep because two were studded, that I put on the front of course, that helped the car literally plow through up to 2-3’ snow! Like it wasn’t there! I was needless to say the only car moving on the road! I even gave a municipal plow driver a ride to work!

    Like 1
  18. Classic Steel

    Cash or check and will not ship..

    Hmm why not state “hard to work with and want lowball offer please” 🥺

  19. Lee Y

    I would personally only buy this for the engine and then put it in something else. Probably keep the trans axle. Take off a few hard to find parts and then send the rest of the shell to the junkyard.

    • k. r. v. Member

      The coolest use of a Toronado drivetrain that I’ve seen, was used in a late model 68, Corvair Monza Coupe! The whole thing! including a custom made aluminum radiator, that was fitted in the front trunk, along with transmission and engine oil coolers! oh yeah and a Optimus Battery. The only downside that cool mid-engined rig had was the minimal ground clearance issues, under the trans. pan. but the engine was a high compression 425 Rocket, together with the TH 425, and stock gearing. When I tell you that car was Quick, I mean QUICK! First gear was good for 55 mph! in the blink of a rubber smoke-filled eye! He was allowed to run it once at the N.H.Drags in Eping, that actually got him banned! Seems if you go under a certain time and go over a certain speed, you must have approved safety gear, like roll cage, racing seat an harness. Of which he had neither! Then he thought he could AutoCross, wherein his first run set a new course record! I’ll tell you any car that can beat a Yamaha FZ1, is a QUICK car! all while getting decent mileage, like 18-24! at the speed limits! But looked like a lowly Corvair, till he started it! then the ground shook.

      Like 1

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