GM Promo Car: 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

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Oldsmobile brought the Toronado to market in 1966 as a personal luxury vehicle and went the route less traveled at the time, equipping it with front-wheel-drive. Not since the Cord in the late 1930s was there a mass-produced U.S. car with that kind of set-up. The then-novelty didn’t deter buyers as some 41,000 copies would be sold in the automobile’s first year on the market. This early ’66 Toronado was used as a promo car in Detroit and was later owned by an Oldsmobile executive. It’s been in the same family ever since and is available here on craigslist in Southern Colorado. The asking price is $34,900. Thanks for the neat tip, Mark_K!

The first generation of the Toronado was built through 1970. Its front-wheel-drive was pretty effective, although we understand that the heavy cars went through front tires rather quickly and the brakes were said to be kind of wimpy before disc versions became available. Since this was a luxury car, it’s not surprising that 85% of the buyers in 1966 opted for the deluxe edition which came with an even higher level of trim than the snappy “standard” version already offered.

This ’66 Olds has an interesting bit of history, but that’s not likely to add much to the resale value of the automobile. The car was selected from the assembly line to use as a promotional vehicle in Detroit with the rollout of the new marque. Then it became the property of a company executive whose family apparently still holds the title to the car after 66 years. Because it was a “show-off” car, it was the first Toronado to have a vinyl top and headrests built into the front seats. At 80,000 miles, the Toronado’s Protecto-Plate and original paperwork come with the interesting car.

The Olds’ Tropical Turquoise paint is mostly original and looks quite nice, but we’re told you’ll find a small imperfection here and there after six decades. Aided by rust proofing when new, it’s said that this Oldsmobile has no corrosion. We’re told there are no issues with the vinyl top, either. Because the car came with the Brougham package, the interior is not only lavish but impeccable as well. The car has been pampered and that certainly shows (though the photos provided could be better).

Under the hood is a 425 cubic inch W-30 V8 that’s said to perform quite well. We’re told that everything works as it should, including the barrel-roll speedometer. To keep the car up to snuff, more recent maintenance includes newer tires, battery, and a tune-up. The windshield has also been replaced and we assume that was due to a crack in the original. Hagerty says that one of these big cars in excellent condition is worth about $40,000, so the seller’s asking price would be in the right territory.

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    Russ always has the best cars and best stories. And no pesky quarter-mile stats!

    I love this Toro, and honestly, it seems quite sensibly priced, considering what some rustbucket 356 or VW busses Give me this any day.

    Like 27
    • bone

      And no “original owner ticked the boxes” ; assuming all cars are special ordered !

      Like 9
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    Hey, where’s the edit feature??

    Like 2
  3. alphasudMember

    So frustrating when you see a beautiful car like this and the photos taken don’t do the car any justice. Owner is right this one has it all by the looks of it. The one picture does show what tropical turquoise looks like in sunlight. Pretty stunning color IMHO. W-30 makes this also special as I have not seen many with this option. Not sure if you could get by with premium pump fuel without a octane boost. Makes me want to buy the GMC RV and trailer the Toro behind it. Need a spare UPP? No problem.

    Like 18
    • angliagt angliagtMember

      upp?

      Like 3
      • alphasudMember

        Unitized power package

        Like 5
  4. Harvey HarveyMember

    Beauty:-)

    Like 5
  5. RoughDiamond

    Wow! That is one impressive Toro.

    Like 7
  6. Cattoo CattooMember

    My cousin back in ‘85 had a red with black interior non promo edition. It too went through front tires at an uneven rate compared to the rear ones. It sat in the front yard for some twenty years before it was taken by unknown to me persons to unknown places.

    Like 3
  7. Ray

    The Toronado did not utilize the W-30 motor.

    The Toronado, built on it’s own factory assembly line, was equipped with the largest V-8 produced by Oldsmobile, producing 385 horsepower and 400 lbs of torque.

    This motor was only available in the Toronado, and it had no “W” letter designation.

    (Later, in ’68-’70, the Toronado was available with a W-34 motor as optional equipment. It was rated at 400 horsepower and 500 lbs of torque.)

    Like 14
  8. ThunderRob

    66′ Toronado was W34,in 66′ only a couple W30’s appeared on 442’s for drag racing purposes as it was it’s first year.W34 included the cold air package,special cam and tricked out tranny.Much like the W30 for the 442.

    Like 4
    • Joe Padavano

      Sorry, no. There was only one engine offered with the Toro for the 1966 model year, the 385 HP/475 ft lb Toronado Rocket 425. Same thing for 1967, except that torque was bumped to 480 ft-lb. The 400 HP/500 ft-lb W34 engine wasn’t available until the 1968 model year.

      Like 6
  9. DON

    Such a futuristic looking car, even back in 1966 when no car looked like another model car.

    Like 14
  10. Falcone

    The 1936 and 1937 Cord was a hand built, not mass produced. See Classic Car Club of America.

    Like 1
  11. Dave Brown

    My best friend’s dad bought one of these new in 1966 for his wife. It looked spaceage to me at the time. My dad was envious. He had bought a new Dodge Coronet wagon just a little before our neighbors new Toronado arrived. That Toronado eclipsed that Dodge in every way possible. Besides the spectacular styling,Toronado was FRONT wheel drive, had a flat interior floor, ventless side glass and the speedometer rolled! It’s funny about the things I remember from all of those years ago. The Toronado was brilliant!

    Like 13
  12. Jonathan Q Higgins

    Only a day or two after another Toronado in markedly worse condition. Much different price also, but I dare say the Cali Toronado would cost at least 30k to bring it to similar condition as this.

    Like 2
  13. GitterDunn

    D’jever notice? The Toronado’s wheels were almost replicas of the ’36 Cord’s. A sly tip of the hat to its venerable front-drive predecessor?

    Like 5
    • Karl

      Several magazines then, and over the years s as I’d the hidden headlights grill and wheels were in tribute to the Cord.

      Like 5
      • Francis Gerard Fay

        it’s no secret that it was designed to pay respect to the Cord, David North of GM designed the car and has out right made the statements that the Cord was his inspiration. I met the guy in 2016 at the 50th anniversary celebration in Lansing Michigan.

        Like 4
    • Tom Hill

      Wheels, grill and headlight doors, all a nod to the Cord. It was intentional.

      Like 2
    • william

      as was the grill in honor of the cord.

      Like 0
  14. Max McCall

    Dad had the Toronado speedo rolled over to 128 early in the morning, somewhere south of Ely NV on the way to grandma’s in Boise. We covered alot of desert in a short period of time until Mom woke up. Summer 67.

    Like 10
  15. George Mattar

    Worth every penny they are asking. When I see Mecum selling total POS 70s Ford Broncos for $85,000, this is a bargain. Beautiful. When GM actually made quality. Today, total junk ugly and regularly seen on tow trucks. A Bill Mitchell masterpiece.

    Like 7
  16. Chuck Dickinson

    Olds didn’t offer a vinyl top option on Toros until 67. While certain items could be added for ‘executive’ cars, the text states that this was an early production car. Therefore, I find it incongruous that, even with the ‘executive’ status, the car was built with an option that Olds didn’t offer until the next model year.

    Like 5
    • Joe Padavano

      Actually, Olds did offer vinyl tops across the model lines for 1966, but it was a last minute decision. The factory documentation is conflicting. The order forms and SPECS booklets do not show availability, but the Exterior Color Selector book does. I’ve also seen real build sheets from 1966 Oldsmobiles that clearly show RPO C08 Vinyl Roof Covering on models where the order sheet says were not available. I’ll admit that these were not Toros, but they were Delta 88s and 442s that supposedly were N/A for the vinyl top.

      Like 4
      • Marc

        There’s quite a few things that are out of sorts with reality with this ad. But that is often the case on b a t or other sites like this. Historical references are rarely backed up with documentation necessary and required. We’ve been car dealer since 1963 and I’ve never seen a factory vinyl top on a 66, especially one that didn’t go down the A pillars as all the 67s did and even aftermarket tops we installed through our body shop on many 66s that came back to be upgraded for a new look. Yes I’ve seen other 66 Oldsmobiles with vinyl roofs from the factory but never a Tornado. And the real tell would be the trim that is used on the rear quarter panels. Even though a lot of the aftermarket trim was good it was not a duplicate of what Oldsmobile used on 67 and up Tornadoes. Short of a build sheet showing this option installed on the car I would have to call it in aftermarket ad. And a W30 engine? Totally disingenuous. I can see W34 being swapped in and out of a 68 through 70 along with the specially built transmission those cars used. But even the novice tornado collector knows there were no W30s offered in that chassis. Still a damn good looking car but compared to what they’ve been going through auction for most likely 5 or 10K over price.

        https://www.mecum.com/lots/AZ0322-494496/1966-oldsmobile-toronado/

        Like 1
    • Chris Platt

      Chuck-
      Good point except that if it was a GM Display or Show Car, and then was later acquired by the GM exec after it’s “tour”, it could have had equipment included that was actually slated for late model Toronado’s (i.e., vinyl top N/A until 67), as this was a very common practice back in the day. As for the built-in headrests, not sure when they were used on a Toronado.

      Like 3
      • Joe Padavano

        Headrests were a factory option starting with the 1966 model year on all Oldsmobiles. My 1966 442 also has them. RPO A81 Headrests were a $52.66 option on the 1966 Toronado.

        Like 3
      • Francis Gerard Fay

        My 66 Built in late September or early October of 1965 has factory Headrests…….I’m doubting a bit of this story…there is no such thing as a “Brougham Package”………but I do agree, the vinyl roof could have been added late, but I’ve seen others too with the vinyl roof…there’s conflict on whether or not it was an available option on a 66

        Like 2
    • Marc

      There’s quite a few things that are out of sorts with reality with this ad. But that is often the case on b a t or other sites like this. Historical references are rarely backed up with documentation necessary and required. We’ve been car dealer since 1963 and I’ve never seen a factory vinyl top on a 66, especially one that didn’t go down the a pillars as all the 67s did and even aftermarket tops we installed through our body shop on many 66s that came back to be upgraded for a new look. And a W30 engine? Totally disingenuous. I can see W34 being swapped in and out of a 68 through 70 along with the specially built transmission those cars used. But even the novice tornado collector knows there were no W30s offered in that chassis. Still a damn good looking car but compared to what they’ve been going through auction for most likely 5 or 10K over price.

      https://www.mecum.com/lots/AZ0322-494496/1966-oldsmobile-toronado/

      Like 0
  17. Racer417

    Nice car. Very common for dealers to add a vinyl top back in the day.

    Like 2
  18. AMCFAN

    I can usually find fault in everything. This is one I really appreciate. I think the Toro is underappreciated. It was really an all new GM design. I like the history and for that I would pay up on.

    When I was a kid these were already old cars and the go to to win the demolition derby. I remember on my paper route was a gas station that was prepping one. It happened to be local car down the street on my route. Sat in a carport. Was very clean but by the 70’s again was an old car. There it was with the windows knocked out and only 40,000 original miles showing. The drivers seat was mint. My first foray in life events that are not fair.

    Like 6
  19. Jay

    Great write up on a Great car Russ. But it had me scratching my head with the math…It’s 56yrs old. More like 5 Decades? I was born in 57’, and am nearing the 65 mark…Thought I was loosing my marbles for a second! My best friend had a Seafoam / Aqua? Non Vinyl roof 66’ version. We thought it was SO Cool to open the doors and watch the tire smoke roll by! If his Father ever knew..🤦‍♂️

    Like 3
  20. robert

    Great looking Toronado. I find that this car is a later production 66 as noted by the outside mirror 2nd type, the power door locks on the door interior panel,early production were on the area that had the power windows and seats. Vinyl roof was most likely added as an after market install as the A pillars are not covered. I doubt that this was used in Detroit as a show car due to its later production changes. No such thing as the brougham package, this is the deluxe version.Agree with the racer 417 on the roof subject.

    Like 2
    • Francis Gerard Fay

      much of the story makes no sense….my October 1965 car has head rests, the idea that it’s the first car with head rests and vinyl roof seems like a bogus claim. My car that’s been in the family from new always had the claim, “it was the first Toronado to be sold in Indiana”…….i debunked my own family! lol the story was bogus, but told for many years.

      Like 2
  21. Frank Morris

    When these first came out, one of the richer farmers where I lived bought one this color. About 6 months later, he traded it in on a Cadilac. Siad that the gas milage was terrible!

    Like 0
    • Francis Gerard Fay

      I consistently get 14 to 15 miles per gallon….family all agrees, been in the family since new…..the farmer must have had a lead foot. My family always owned to Cadillacs but switched to Olds for this car……

      Like 1
  22. fred

    That doesn’t look like Tropical Turquoise paint? It looks like Forest Mist, I think they’ve got the color name wrong here. it’s very dark, plus, normally Tropical Turquoise came with a matching interior, not Dark Green, Forest Mist usually had a white, black or dark green interior.

    Like 0

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