21k Original Miles? 1983 Oldsmobile Toronado Convertible

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The practice of transforming Sedans or Hardtops into Convertibles isn’t new, and everyone from ambitious amateurs to renowned coachbuilders has tried it. However, when a company famous for producing Presidential limousines performs the work, you can be sure the result will be top-notch. Such is the case with this 1983 Oldsmobile Toronado. It is a beautifully preserved classic with a genuine 21,000 miles on its odometer. The elderly owner has recently entered a nursing home, leaving his son to send the Oldsmobile to a new home. He has listed the Toronado here on Craigslist in Grandville, Michigan. He set the price at $15,000 OBO, and I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder Mitchell G. for spotting this rare drop-top.

Oldsmobile’s Third GenerationToronado graced showroom floors from 1979 until 1985 and bore little similarity to its predecessor. It retained the front-wheel drive mechanical layout but was significantly smaller and lighter than the car it replaced. The wheelbase shrank by eight inches, and the company reduced the overall length by nearly sixteen inches. The result of this labor was a curb weight reduction of over 900 lbs. It remained a two-door-only proposition, but some buyers sought additional exclusivity. That was the case with this car’s first owner, deciding to transform the car into a cool Convertible. Several companies, including ASC, have performed such conversions to the Toronado. However, this car found its way to Hess & Eisenhardt in Fairfield, Ohio. The company name may ring a bell, and for good reason. The firm produced the armored limousines for US Presidents from 1948 until 2001. Its services spread far and wide, with the Heads of State of sixty countries transported in its limousines. Therefore, if anyone were going to make structural changes to a vehicle, a company with enormous experience producing reinforced cars would seem an ideal choice. Records aren’t conclusive, but it is believed that about ninety-two Toronados received the Hess & Eisenhardt treatment. This Olds presents well, although the limited listing images make it impossible to determine whether there are minor faults or flaws. However, there are no signs of bumps or bruises and no evidence of rust. There are no photos of the car with the top raised, so its condition is unclear. The trim and glass are in good order, and this is the only H & E Toronado I have seen with Ventiports.

The seller’s description of this Toronado is frustratingly brief, with no information about whether he holds evidence supporting his claim that the odometer shows 21,000 original miles. However, the spotless interior makes that figure seem plausible. The burgundy leather has the typical character creases that develop with age but no significant wear or physical damage. The carpet is equally impressive, while the dash and timber trim are spotless. It doesn’t just look good because it features the luxury touches a buyer would expect in a vehicle of this caliber. The new owner receives air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power seats, cruise control, a tilt wheel, and a premium AM/FM radio/cassette player.

The frustration continues when attention turns to the car’s drivetrain because the seller supplies no engine bay images. That is disappointing because that aspect of a classic often tells more about the life a car has led than any other. The Olds features the 307ci V8 coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission. The output of 140hp and 240 ft/lbs of torque doesn’t promise startling performance, but it deserves some context. The last Second Generation Toronados rolled off the line in 1978 with the company’s 403ci V8 delivering 190hp and 325 ft/lbs. Those figures suggest it should have been significantly faster than this car, but their performance was almost inseparable. The secret was in the weight reduction program for the later car, allowing it to utilize its power more effectively. An added bonus is that the smaller engine achieved an impressive 33% fuel consumption improvement. Apart from the unverified odometer reading, the only information supplied by the seller is that the Olds runs and drives smoothly. That suggests it should be a turnkey proposition for its new owner.

This 1983 Oldsmobile Toronado Convertible is a fantastic custom. It is believed that as many as two hundred examples rolled out of the ASC and H & E factories. The latter appears to be rarer, but that doesn’t make valuing it easy. A search of the internet revealed another H & E Convertible that recently sold for around $10,000. However, its condition wasn’t as impressive as our feature car’s, and its odometer had rolled over. Therefore, the price seems realistic, but it would become more so if the seller accepts a reasonable offer. Does that tempt you to follow up on this classic?

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  1. JoeNYWF64

    Buick fender portholes do not belong on an Olds!
    Those 5 mph bumpers must add another 200 lbs to the car’s weight – maybe tuck them in?

    Like 18
    • Al

      Those are elderly add-ons you can buy in any AutoZone along with any other Cal Custom accessory lol
      I’ve seen many put those on their cars that are a far cry from a Buick as well.

      Like 7
  2. Fox owner

    I came here to see how many would neg on the portholes and I was right. Those things would have to go straight away. They are the only flaw of an otherwise handsome automobile. Well those and the Continental kit in the back. That interior is lux. Ten thousand.

    Like 4
  3. Al camino

    So are the port holes lick um stick ems or do you have to cut or drill any holes? If not no big deal!

    Like 4
    • Bj

      Peel and stick ventiports

      Like 0
  4. Greg G

    Those three circles should have been left off. That’s a Buick thing. Good luck with selling your personal taste.

    Like 1
  5. Al Dee

    LOL!!! — Besides the Buick stick-on fender ports, they should have also put GP 8-lug hubcaps on it, with a Thunderbird steering wheel and a Continental emblem on the spare tire addition and a Chrysler hood ornament – and then take it around to car shows and charge a dollar to “Name this car” for a hundred dollars. They would soon have their $15K without ever paying anything out – and then they could sell it for a few grand to a circus. — What a joke!

    Like 2
  6. Greg

    Al Dee you are a riot . Still laughing.

    Like 2
  7. CCFisher

    This car certainly doesn’t need any aftermarket embellishments, so I hope the next owner removes the tacky grille cap, the cheap, stick-on vents, and the garish continental kit.

    The Hess & Eisenhardt conversion is unusual, considering that ASC was already building OEM Riviera convertible conversions by this time and would soon add Eldorado conversions. This was a very expensive car in 1983, likely ordered by a dealer for showroom display.

    As it turns out, ASC did offer a Toronado conversion, one of which was featured as a BF auction in 2017. The configuration of the top around the C-pillar is different from this H&E conversion.

    Like 3
    • Bub

      Hey CC. Owners of dealerships were so cost conscious, I can’t imagine one of them exercising their predilections for this, this thing. It would sit on their lot for a lifetime and do nothing but depreciate.

      Like 0
      • CCFisher

        It would be very unusual for a mainstream dealer to order a car like this for showroom display today (though the BMW dealer where I get my car serviced has a quarter-million-dollar Z8 on the showroom floor), we’re talking about a car that’s 41 years old, and things were different then. True, it would likely be sold at a loss, but if featuring it in advertising and displaying it prominently brought in enough customers who drove home in a regular Toronado or Cutlass Supreme, it was worth taking a loss. At least, that was the theory.

        Like 0
  8. Edward Walsh

    although the stick on Buick ports do not go they do not bother me as much as the grill

    Like 0
  9. ChiTownJeff

    Judging by the width of the whitewall, those look like original tires to me. It also looks like the filler between the front bumper and the fender is missing, at least on the left side.

    Like 0
  10. Rick

    With the Cadillac wannabe grille and the pseudo Buick portholes it’s as if this car has a major identity crisis.

    Like 2
    • jwaltb

      Don’t forget the Continental kit! Today’s version of these add-ons is the people who get the gold trim kit on their Camrys. Always makes me laugh!

      Like 1
  11. Bub

    Makes sense now that you say it CC.
    Get some traffic into the showroom and put them behind the wheel of something they never thought they needed.
    Same as the loss leaders. Brand new C-10s for 10gs back then. Until you went looking for them.

    Like 0
  12. Claudio

    As a young family man with a love for topless cars , i drooled over a white riviera on a used car lot in montreal , ended up getting a kcar -le baron with a cloth top to drive my kids for ice cream !
    These were nice , these add ons csn be deleted but finding the original parts will be a headach …

    Like 0

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