First Generation FWD: 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado

My first exposure to an Oldsmobile Toronado was via an AMT 1/25 model kit many years ago. It was an early model construction attempt and as I recall, it turned out pretty well. The one thing that I specifically remember was gluing together the drivetrain. While I was too young to understand automotive engineering, I knew that generally, the engine drove the rear wheels but not in the case of this very new and stylistic 1966 Toronado that I was trying to recreate in miniature. My early admiration for the Toronado brought me to this 1967 model that I found here on craigslist. It is located in Orange Park, Florida and for sale for $2,800.

Besides the cutting edge styling exhibited by the Toronado, the most spectacular aspect was the front-wheel-drive layout that was pretty much unheard of at the time. Unlike most FWD movers of the last 35 years, the Toronado employed a longitudinally-mounted engine (like a rear-wheel-drive car) with a backward-facing transmission attached to the engine via a very thick chain-drive rolling over an engine attached sprocket and a transmission attached sprocket. The transmission in question was a modified Turbo-Hydramatic 400 dubbed a model “425” with a tale shaft that incorporates a differential and half-shafts attached by CV joints. This image is not the car in question but it is of a 1967 model and is here just to help visualize the layout.

Under the hood is Oldsmobile’s “Rocket” V8, displacing 425 CI (7 liters) and good for 385 HP and 480 lb. feet of torque – a real stump-puller! The owner does not know if the engine runs as he claims he has not attempted to start it, though he says it is not frozen.

The interior appears to be intact and mostly, very faded, with some seam separation starting. Beyond that, it appears to be mostly complete. No obvious floor damage from this perspective.

Curious to note are all of the scratches around the ignition switch, seems like a steadier hand, or maybe a funnel, would have helped. There is a simple trick to removing one of these old type GM ignition switch lock cylinders and maybe attempts were made without knowing how to do it.

I’m not sure what the purpose of all of the gray primer is – protect from surface rust perhaps?  The primered surfaces seems pretty smooth and not pitted.

Overall, this Toronado is in about the type of shape I would expect for a pole barn find that is 52 years old. There are no obvious signs of rust or rot (other than around the trunk weatherstrip) but the owner is silent regarding structural and sheet metal integrity. Unfortunately, there are no images of the underside available so there’s no telling what, if anything, is lurking under there.

The owner states that this car is highly optioned with trim in good shape and that appears to be the case. My thought is the price seems reasonable for the condition though I’d like some more information on the underside and the engine. The restoration needed on this car won’t be as simple as one on, say a 442 as they are so much more common, but there seems to be a strong base case here from which to start. What do you think?


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  1. nycbjr Member

    385hp? What was torque steer like?

    Like 1
    • Dave

      I don’t recall any of the magazine road tests mentioning any issues with torque steer. In the same vein, I can’t recall any Toro drivers hunting Road Runners (335 advertised horsepower) or any other muscle cars of the era.

      • ctmphrs

        There is no torque steer with a Toronado unless something broken.A Toronado will smoke the tires in a straight line with no hands on the wheel.

  2. sir mike

    I remember one in town late 1967….winter time…they put snow tyres on the rear only… was funny

    Like 9
  3. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Many many moons ago I worked with a lady whose husband would go to the car auctions for cars to rebuild. Whenever she saw one of the FWD Olds or Cadillacs, she’d buy it. At the time I think she had a half dozen or so of them. The one I rode in was a beast.

    Like 5
  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    Funny that Jay Leno had his 66 Toro converted to RWD.

    Like 5
    • JD

      If I remember correctly he put a 1000+ HP engine in that car too. May be the reason he did the RWD set up.

      Like 5
      • ken tilly UK Member

        Maybe he figured that the original chain drive wouldn’t be able to cope with 1000hp.

        Like 1
      • Miguel

        Jay put the Toronado body on a Corvette chassis, just to see if he could.

  5. Steve Gravelle

    These were new when I was a little kid. I thought they were the best-looking American cars of their time.

    Like 6
    • Dave

      They were in the showroom when my parents went shopping for a new 66 Delta 88. So amazing! My mother wanted four doors so that’s what they bought.

  6. Tom Member

    WOW, glad I was sitting down when I saw this listing! Finally a car with a reasonable asking price for what it is !!!!!!

    Like 5
  7. Jetfire88

    Jays’ Toro is a Corvette underneath, front V8, torque tube, and transaxle. FWD or AWD is not an option with that configuration.

    Like 2
  8. Bob S

    I had a 67 Toronado, and for comfort, drivability, and low maintenance, it is one of the best cars I have ever owned. I kept it for over 11 years, and only traded it because I got a deal on a 4×4 that I couldn’t refuse.
    Considering the size of the engine, it was economical, and it was true performer.
    The only problem I had with the car, was with the quadrajet carb, because the early Qjets had a problem with internal leakage. After pulling the carb apart and fixing the leaks, it was trouble free until I sold the car.
    A lot of these front wheel drive engine/transmission assemblies were grabbed up by float plane operators, and used to make aircraft launching platforms. A pity really, but better than getting scrapped.
    It is too far away, but I would buy it if it was a practical proposition.
    Anyone thinking of buying one of these cars, would need to carefully check the front CV joints. That is an expensive repair.

    Like 4
  9. Jack

    the next year, Toronado went to the 455 engine with a much better setup.

    Those were the days you didn’t buy the first model year. The engineers were still figuring out the issues.

    • Miguel

      While the set up may be better, the design of this car is way better than the ’68 that followed.

      Like 1
  10. 68custom

    the rust issue in the trunk is bad but i love 66/67 Toronados the most of the early GM front drivers. interior looks re-stitched and sun faded. priced reasonable though I think,

    Like 1
  11. Bob McK Member

    I sold one of these with a new interior and paint for $4K two years ago. Guess my price was too low. This will be beautiful restored.

    Like 1
  12. chrlsful

    “…Curious to note are all of the…” we usta call’em DDS (drunk driver specials).

    For the Rivera’n Toronado I all ways think – imagine a european watchin 1 of these go by in 1967 Germany/Britain or what have U (& I’ma ‘ford guy’). Compared to what they had I bet the chin was down on the chest (’63 for a Riveria). Y aint it like dat taday?

    “…Toro drivers hunting Road Runners…” these were not ‘boy racers’ back in the day (think today’s ‘executive’ cars).

    Bring’em back alive !

    Like 1
  13. JoeNYWF64

    I’m surprised to see 2 rubber boots(& CV joints inside?) instead of 2 exposed universal joints. Could they have used more durable universal joints instead?
    No big deal greasing the latter – do it while u grease the rest of the front end.
    I can see why this setup is not used today – u need a long underhood area.
    & i assume back in ’66 they di not have the knowhow to transversely mount a V8, like the front wheel Caddy Northstar motor was, decades later.

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