Can You Save It? 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

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Jay Leno has a 1960s Toronado, something like the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado pictured here on eBay. That doesn’t make it a good idea for you to buy this one, because even at $4,900 buy it now, this hot mess is going to sit for most of the 27 days currently remaining in the eBay listing. Or, someone (the owner) is going to realize that this car is really a giveaway and accept a lowball offer. Larry D, you did well to put us onto this one, which is in Marengo, IL.

So what’s a 60s Toronado famous for? Looking like a muscle luxury car, and having a large V8 engine between the front fenders, but being front-wheel drive. FWD no big deal to you? Then you’re too young to remember the endless bench-racing debates that went on between car people about losing that feeling of push that a rear-driver provides. “Torque steer”—oh, the hours wasted trying to prove to buddies that getting the steering wheel nearly jerked from your hands when you mashed the throttle was no fun. They were driving Hondas, and you were piloting an old GTO. You were my kind of person. But alas, the industry went the other way, and by the 1980s, it seemed that everything was driving the front wheels. Blame, in part, the Motorama concept car of 1955, called the La Salle II, a styling and engineering exercise that was taken up further by the Olds engineering team in the later 1950s. In 1966, the front-wheel drive Toronado was ready for sale, and it went to market, the first gen cars being offered through the 1970 model year. Four generations of Toronado ended in 1992.

So buying one of these, you’ve got something unique, if not necessarily desirable if you’re thinking of this in place of so many other great 1960s (rear-wheel drive) cars. The Olds Cutlass comes to mind, for instance. But all of that is the abstract, so let’s get to the concrete: this car was apparently pulled out of mud up to the axles if the pictures of the tires are any indication. It has significant rust damage in at least one fender. Make that two. OK, three, and the passenger-side door. There are also painted-over bubbles in spots, it would appear. The engine is a rusty mess, does not run, and yet supposedly needed only points when it was last tried three years ago. Nineteen years ago, when the current owner got the car, it had 17K on it, by the previous owner’s attestation. Hmm. How’d those seats get that thrashed? And wait—the current owner has had the car for 19 years. He put only a handful of miles on (17,139-17,000 is 139), despite buying it, one assumes, in much better condition than it’s in now. How do you trash a car this badly in 139 miles (kidding, but one has to wonder about the history)? In many cases, letting it go to seed is a real shame.

There are also no photos underneath or even, very simple to do, in the trunk. Add that to its home in a muddy field, in Illinois, and you’ve got yourself a car that might crumble to dust if you touch it wrong. Also of note is that it has apparently already been given parts like wheels, bumper, and trunk from a donor car. Or maybe the current owner just has those parts, and they’re better than the ones shown. Sorting that out is the least of your concerns if you dive into the deep end on this project. Your budget is not Jay Leno’s budget, so your car doesn’t have to be his car. Otherwise said: maybe starting with a less costly to restore example of this luxury cruiser would be worth considering?

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  1. Tom71MustangsMember

    Yeah, that’s …. Uhhh… really somethin’ they have there.

    Like 7
  2. Paul D Jordan

    Funny how much more interested these rough cars are than after being restored!

    Like 0
  3. Big C

    I’ve seen a lot worse featured here. And had folks talk them up like they’re holy grails.

    Like 7
    • Jim

      That’s true…but does the Toro (which I love) have the same fan base as Cudas, Camaros, & VW Vans? btw, I’d love to find dbl or trple black, no rust, AC Toro. I can dream can’t I? Found one in LA at The Vault but it had rear end damage needing cut-n-weld or frame machine. Owner acted like it was only a door ding.

      Like 3
  4. Bick Banter

    Big fan of these 1st generation big beautiful Toros. But no, it’s probably not worth saving this one sadly. You can get a really nice one for a fraction of what this would cost to get presentable!

    Like 6
    • Francis Gerard Fay

      If you’re a big fan, you should probably agree that this car has many many very rare options. A big Fan would see that 1, the car has Cornering Lights, 2, the car has Factory Head Rests, 3, the car doesn’t have the base Air Conditioning but it has the very rare Climate Control System. it’s also a low number car, a Big fan would see the early side view mirrors and the location of the power locks…..and a Big Fan then would say….but no Power Windows? This is indeed a very rare and interesting car…..and the price seems fair.

      Like 1
  5. Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking car. I’ve always liked the 1966-67 Oldsmobile Toronado. Assuming parts are still available, and what’s currently there is solid enough, this car can be restored, at least enough that you can drive the car safely and it looks nice.

    Like 0
  6. Andacar

    I had a 67, so I know this car literally inside and out. But it needs a complete restoration, likely engine and transmission, certainly the driveshafts. Floor pans likely need replacing. $500 tops.

    Like 1
  7. James A Martin

    He will soon find out that there is no value to these cars. Unless it is restored and a toro enthusiasts wants it. I have a parts car 66, been yelled at for advertising it on a local Facebook market place. The car is ugly, why are you posting it hear blah blah. I couldn’t get anyone to look at it for a 1000 dollars. He is dreaming for 5000.

    Like 2
  8. Tim

    Look away.

    Like 1
  9. Mike

    I wonder what he could get for it if it was power washed, moved to a better picture taking location and a quick clean out/vacuuming of the interior. Also get rid of the flaming iron cross air cleaner cover to not give buyers the idea that the motor might have been messed with.

    Like 2
  10. Greg Gustafson

    Back in the mid 70s, I was the “used car” mechanic at a Chevrolet dealership. They took one of these in as a trade in with a sour transmission and I threatened to quit if the expected me to work on it… they wholesaled it.

    Like 0
  11. Tony

    It has one very rare option…those head rests.

    I’ve had four 66 Toronados, and looked at many, many more. This is only the second one I’ve seen in 40 years.

    It also has my favorite option, tilt/telescope steering wheel.

    I can’t see well enough on my phone if it has the Wonderbar radio.

    Like 1
    • Francis Gerard Fay

      you missed the other rare option. Check out the little vent over the center ash tray. That’s not air conditioning, it’s got full on Climate Control, a very rare Option on the 66 Toro, that vent is the thermometer sensor placed in the center of the Dash. What’s even funnier is that it has head rests, and cornering lamps and climate control….but no electric windows!!!!

      Like 2
      • TONY

        OMG!!! I had a maroon Toro that had that very same option! I Never knew what that little vent was back in 1979! It did have a dial to set the temperature for the AC…but that sensor vent always baffled me!

        Like 0
  12. Spudoo

    For those interested in these (I think this first generation is a beautiful car), there was a nice article covering Toronado history published the other day at:

    Like 2
  13. George Birth

    Rust bucket.

    Like 1
  14. Brian

    Hmmm. I live in Marengo. Must be in someone’s back 40 because the only thing that looks familiar in the pictures is the mud.

    Like 0
  15. Lincoln

    Another super low mileage car. I wondered where they all had been hiding. Or is it 217000 or maybe. 317000 miles perhaps.

    Like 0

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