FWD V8: 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado

1968 Oldsmobile Toronado

Front wheel drive is great where efficiency is concerned, but it usually isn’t the best option for high powered cars. In the 1960’s Oldsmobile decided they wanted to change that image, so they began development of a new front wheel drive car powered by a large displacement V8. The car they produced was the Toronado and they managed to bolt a 455 cui V8 to it’s front wheels. We came across this very original 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado on Homedale, Idaho’s craigslist. The seller is asking $1,900 and claims the car runs, drives great, and is still wearing it’s original paint.

1968 Oldsmobile Toronado Front Corner

The Toronado’s V8 produced an impressive 375 hp and 510 ft. lbs of torque, which explains why this engine was also used in the rear wheel drive Oldsmobile 442. Oldsmobile’s engineers spent considerable time making sure the Toronado’s drivetrain could handle all that torque, but we imagine these cars produce some major  torque steer. With some work this project could look as good as the one above and should make for an interesting discussion piece. I mean, when was the last time you saw a FWD muscle car? The Toronado could be the first and the last.

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Comments

  1. 88banshee

    Folks used to constantly put their snow chains on the rear tires of these cars — They drove just like rear drive cars…

  2. Dr. Bonkersane

    The Cadillac Eldorado shared this drivetrain (at least in design) for several years, and by 1970 sported a 500 cid 400HP engine. I can’t comment on the Olds, but the Caddy was docile and easily controlled at well over 100 MPH. Of course, the fuel mileage sucked…

  3. Chris

    My dad had one JUST LIKE THIS when I was a kid! I loved this car and he wound up trading it to a guy for an antique sword. What a jip! Dad quit driving it because he was trying to start a tractor by pulling it and when he popped the clutch on the tractor, it jerked the back bumper off the car, so he quit driving it. Of the two cars he had that I would LOVE to have now is this 68 Tororado and his 68 Ford Torino Cobra Jet with a 428 PI and a Hurst Shifter with 4 speed. That car would be worth a fortune now.

  4. Corey

    My ’75 Eldorado shares a lot of the same parts. Comfy as hell and will run at 85 all day as though you were driving your couch. I love that Toro speedo, too…in fact, maybe I should look closer at this ad again….

  5. Bob Brown

    My parents had one when I was in high school. I can assure you this car had awesome performance. (I drove it once, and got it up to 130 MPH!) It was originally designed to run on ethyl grade fuel so my dad had the jets on the carburetor opened up to allow regular fuel, which made the MPGs lousy, but who cared about that back then?I really wish my parents would have kept it longer….Dad was in his period where he would buy a different automotive treasure about every 4-5 months….man the cars he had would be worth big $$$$ today….

  6. J. Pickett

    I drove quite a few of these GM front drivers around that time. Worked in Buick and Olds dealers. I don’t remember any torque steer. My 79 Civic was worse. The drive train was a Turbo 400 turned around and connected to the engine with a very hefty chain drive. They didn’t break those chains or differentials. CV joints could be a problem but not as much as smaller later GM front drivers. A bodies were real tough on them.

  7. wally

    I’ve owned a couple of ’66 Toros. Pretty fantastic for cruising at 100 mph. No torque steer, but also not a car with sports-car handling. As J. Pickett mentions, CV’s and boots are an issue as is rust in the decklid. To my eye, the first year ’66 is the best version. Jay Leno, who has built his own highly-modified Toro compared further versions to the average American, saying “they get fatter as they get older.”

  8. Ripper

    I have driven a lot of Toros and Eldos and never encountered torque steer which only ocurs when the driveshaft lengths are not balanced as on the 4 cylinder cars the worst of which were the mid to late 80s Chrysler turbo charged cars, the driveshafts were of different lengths and the engines had a lot of power when the RPM went over 1200 and the turbo kicked in, a driver not expecting torque steer was right into a curb and about a 1400.00 dollar repair in 1985 dollars. Quite a wake up call for those drivers, I could write those estimates in my sleep. My first question was do you have insurance and if you do they had to handle it like I told them to, or the repairs would never have been covered. Yes insurance companies insure stupidity, but they will try not to cover things which were done through stupidity.

  9. Ron Coombs

    Jay Leno did one of these. I highly recommend a look at it on his website. jay leno’s garage.

  10. Corey

    Not an ounce of torque steer in my Caddy and I think the “detuned” 500 in mine still puts out 300+. My V6 Accord is twitchier off the line.

  11. Ron

    Truly a beautiful car. And I know it is a cliche to say this, but they don’t make ’em like this anymore. Today’s cars may be safer, more fuel efficient and more competent, but they have no soul, no STYLE! This car has STYLE! :) And why don’t they design good looking cars anymore???

  12. Tony

    ’68 Toro has the best factory big block Olds ever made. High nickel blocks, “N” nodular crank shaft, “C” heads flow better than the W’s, factory crank scraper/windage. However to drive it was silly – off the line – damn thing would smoke the tires all the way to the next stop light. Toro GT, very scarce, had a slightly bigger cam, gave more HP but aftermarket cams now are much better so not worth the extra effort for a donor. Tempted to pick it up just for the engine and part it out…

  13. J. Pickett

    I have to agree, I’m all for fuel mileage, and efficiency but modern cars tend to be soulless lump of melted soap. Many attempts to give them style end up looking ugly and awkward. This doesn’t seem to influence some of their sales. Come on most anything by Toyota is a lump of playdoe, Chrysler bless them gives their sedans some style. Even GM once the leader is coming back. Of the Japs, Mazda and Nissan seem the least repulsive.

  14. Chuck Clingan

    I have a ’66 custom I bought from second owner. First owner was Hertz Rent-A-Car. Comfy,reliable,rusty, we have drag raced it last two years just for fun. 10.6 1/8 mi. Nothing ever breaks.

  15. Ron

    Maybe no torque steer, but under steer? More than plenty!

  16. J. Pickett

    In 1968 most everything except Porsches and VW’s understeered.

  17. Dr. Bonkersane

    You throw that much horsemeat under the front wheels in anything but a mountain and it will slide like a mud puppy. And all of these bitches did. These cars were not about handling. They were about machismo, pure and simple. On that point, they succeed brilliantly.

    • starsailing

      Handled superbly all around and the faster you went the better it handled….Yes you have to drive in out of corners differently when PUSHING IT TO THE LIMIT….but when you learned to power OUT of a turn with them floored it was a thrill. Great winner at Pike’s Peak races..Regular driving on the street dry, wet, or snow….handled perfectly…! I had bunch of people at work buy Toros for several years because they loved them in the Mn Snow….If you go TOO fast into corner in any car…the front end will plow….Toros just never got stuck in snow!
      The Boss 302 I mentioned below had rear ended me in the Olds at stoplight…he didn’t pull over but took a left, I joined after him, ran 1 car length behind it for a mile or two in city streets like the scene from Bullet! Finally he pulled over….I had just a dent in the durable rear bumper, and his Stang had hundreds of dollars of bent damage. I got a new bumper…plus more cash for not turning him in for revoked license and hit and run. First thing he said when getting out was “*#%@*## “what do you have in that thing?”
      http://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/motorsports/1966-pikes-peak-hillclimb/
      http://www.ultimateracinghistory.com/race.php?raceid=9410
      http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2odiba
      http://autoweek.com/article/car-life/week-1970-rare-unser-less-48th-annual-pikes-peak-hill-climb

  18. Pat

    One of the first jobs I had was working in a Tranny shop and I was low man so one of these came in I got the job. So how does this come apart? Figure it out kid… LOL I couldn’t get my head wrapped around the chain drive! :) One fast SOB!

  19. RaceWay

    This post made me take out my hibernating 1966 Toronado today in the warmer New York weather. I had forgotten how nicely it drove once you take on its own and drive onto the highway. It’s truly an American cruiser, and you forget its size once you are out of congested town traffic. And, yes, it’s not a “handler”, but it’s more about performance and highspeed manueverablity.Our new ’68 that followed (sold it-darn-) was very reliable with its first year Olds 455, and a comfortable car as well (was more trouble-free than the ’66, which wasn’t too bad except for those carbs and tire wear). Your photo of that ultra-clean silver ’68 model reminded me of how we just took these Toronados for granted as big Oldsmobiles, but they werer certainly remarkable cars. And yes, CV joints lasted about 90,000 miles or more, but were an easy repair in their day.

  20. J. Pickett

    The main problem we had with cv joints came from torn boots. Chicago weather was rough on them. These cars were great in the snow. Otherwise the Olds big block was hardy, the Turbo 400 trans bulletproof as was the chain.

  21. Hubert

    One of two factory cars I have ever seen bring one set of wheels WAY off the ground. One was a 68 Camaro, the other was one of these, driven forward, then slammed in reverse to pull a backwards wheelie…. did it twice b4 the driveshafts blew out…..

  22. starsailing

    Had the exact same color/and vinyl rook combo back in mid 70s. I had owned/raced 66 442…so I just had to curve distrib, super tune Quadrajet, dump the heavy muffler for glass pack setup, ditch the heavy spare, etc. remove air cond belt. setup better air cleaner. Got 15-17 MPG, didn’t bother to check it when running it hard. Blew the doors off 69 Boss 302 first race with it! Smoke the front tires now and then like I did to the High School Principals 68 Toro during 2 hr auto shop class. Beautiful interior, put a trailer hitch on it after a bit to tow horse trailer and it pulled the trailer and horse like it wasn’t attached. Speedometer went to 130mph…..approaching that speed the car squatted down and handled even better….Pleasure to drive…fun to race…..I noticed a green W34 69 or 70 last week on North east coast for 4 K last week….very nice if someone was looking for one.

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