455-Powered Survivor: 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado

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With 385 HP and front-wheel-drive, Oldsmobile’s 1966 Toronado aimed to shake things up in the luxury two-door market. Check out 21 of the most unflattering pictures you’ll ever find of a 1970 Toronado here on eBay. Don’t stop there, though. This FWD beast might end up being a good buy. The Buy It Now price of $6,500 puts this Torrington, Connecticut classic in your collection.

Thanks to FWD, the Toronado’s flat floor and lack of a driveline “hump” made for more comfortable three-across seating front and rear. Placing the drive wheels under the engine up front increases foul-weather traction too. Surely savvy luxury buyers would stampede to vehicles with such obvious advantages! Well, yes and no. On dry pavement, weight transfer helps RWD cars launch, whereas front-end lift is exactly what you don’t want with drive tires forward. Also, when handling is part of your image, RWD cars have the advantage of splitting up the tasks of steering and propelling the car. Rear-wheel-drive cars generally approach a more desirable 50/50 weight distribution as well. When adequately powered, RWD offers the driver an opportunity to balance or overcome understeer (front wheels turned but sliding due to lack of traction) by using power-on oversteer, an attitude more applicable to marketing videos than real-world driving. Put it all together and, despite a valiant effort by GM and others, we saw get the unlikely triumph of heart over mind or marketing over reason that mostly spelled doom for FWD luxury vehicles by the middle 2000s.

The longitudinally mounted 455 cid (7.07.5L) Rocket V8 transferred 385 HP (gross) to the front wheels using a sideways version of GM’s heavy duty TurboHydromatic 400 three-speed transmission (TH425) via chain drive. Cadillac’s Eldorado used a similar drivetrain. Interestingly, Buick kept the Riviera RWD during this era, perhaps pinning it as the stodgiest of the three. Olds brochures for 1970 boasted of the engine’s positive valve rotators, a first in passenger car V8s.

Sadly someone bumped the camera operator to the right, so we don’t know what a ’70 Toronado really looks like in rear-quarter view. Suffice it to say that nothing else on the road in those days would be confused with the Toronado. The elegant lines and proportions communicate an air of luxury while the fastback roof line and flared fenders suggest power and performance.

Though not as stunning as the ’66 front-end, annual styling changes were de rigueur during a day when luxury buyers traded cars every three years whether they needed to or not. Once again we *almost* get the entire car in the frame. Better luck next time! Is the first-generation Toronado your favorite FWD luxury car?

Thanks to Hagerty and DrivingLine for some details.

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  1. Fox Owner

    Wow, I cannot look at those pictures on ebay. it’s a nice Toronado though, I remember an uncle had a first year model in gold, which is how most of the ones I’ve seen are painted. Not sure about the green, but it kind of grows on you.

    Like 2
    • Poppy

      What’s the matter, you don’t like standing on your head to see the photos?
      Lazy seller.

      Like 2
  2. jim

    The 455 is a 7.5L engine.

    Like 3
    • ACZ

      Correct! And the trans is a TH425, not a TH400.

      Like 1
  3. Emmet

    Flip the air cleaner lid upside down and your good to go! I really like it.

    Like 3
  4. Douglas Braun

    Was it hit in the back? Can’t tell for sure. Where are some more photos?
    What’s the mileage? Is it running?

    Like 0
  5. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    Hey Pa-paw, are you learning that new I phone pretty goodly?

    Like 0
  6. Frank G

    Car did not sell on e-bay. Seller did mention that it was listed locally, too. E-bay ad didn’t receive any bids. Not surprised.

    Like 0

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