Museum Piece: 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado

Occasionally a classic car will appear on our desks here at Barn Finds, and we struggle to pinpoint what its strongest attribute is. That would appear to be the case with this 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado because it ticks so many of the right boxes. It is beautifully preserved, it has served as a museum piece, it is loaded with optional extras, and it is a low-mileage survivor. Barn Finder Ikey H spotted the Toronado for us, so thank you so much for that, Ikey. It is now searching for a new home, so it has been listed for sale here on craigslist. It is located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and is being offered for sale for $18,900. The owner might also consider a trade for the right vehicle, so that is something to keep in mind if you find yourself strongly attracted to the Olds.

Tackling the presentation of the Toronado as a starting point, and there isn’t a lot to be critical of here. The Laurel Mist paint has a beautiful shine and shows no signs of patchiness or inconsistency. Chips and scratches appear to be non-existent, while the panels are as straight as an arrow. The owner makes no mention of any rust issues, and there is nothing visible in the supplied photos. The immaculate presentation continues when we look at the trim and glass because there are no apparent problems with any of it. It would seem that the Olds has led a sheltered existence. It has spent a significant part of its life in private collections. Demonstrating a bit of versatility, it has also spent time as a display vehicle at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing, Michigan. This last fact doesn’t surprise me because the vehicle’s condition would seem to justify its inclusion in a museum.

When it was launched, the Toronado wasn’t just a stylish looking luxury car. Under the skin, it represented a revolutionary drivetrain development by Oldsmobile. American vehicles were invariably front-engine/rear-drive designs. The Toronado turned that thinking on its head with the Unitized Power Package or UPP. This saw Olds managed to squeeze a v8 engine and automatic transmission into space usually reserved for the engine alone and produce the first American front-wheel-drive car since the 1937 Cord. The engine they chose was not some puny little lightweight. The Toronado was envisaged as a large and luxurious car, so a 425ci V8 was considered the right engine for the job. This pumped out 385hp that was fed to the road via a THM425 automatic transmission. Traditional wisdom has always said that squeezing more than 250hp through the same wheels that do the steering will cause some drama. To help alleviate this, the Toronado was equipped with power steering. This helps to isolate and eliminate much of the torque-steer that would be inherent in this design. At 4,568lbs, the Olds is definitely a heavy vehicle. When you combine this weight with the difficulty associated with launching a front-wheel-drive car effectively down the ¼ mile, an ET of 15.6 seconds is mighty impressive. The presentation of this car’s engine bay is just as remarkable as the rest of the vehicle. The owner claims that it has a genuine 67,000 miles on its odometer but doesn’t indicate whether he has evidence to verify this. Surprisingly, he also doesn’t provide any insight into how well the Toronado runs or drives.

I hesitate to describe the Toronado’s interior condition as perfect, but it certainly is tidy. I’ve been trying to decide whether there is a tear on the front seat or if it is a trick of the light. The rest of the upholstery is in excellent condition, with no signs of any tears or seam separations. The dash is perfect, and the carpet is free from any apparent issues. There have been no aftermarket additions, but that doesn’t mean that the car lacks when it comes to the question of luxury appointments. The owner describes it as being fully loaded, and this isn’t far off the mark. It is equipped with air conditioning, power windows, a power front seat, cruise, a tilt/telescopic wheel, and an AM/FM radio.

The owner of this ’66 Toronado quotes a potential value of around $25,000 for the vehicle, and he isn’t that far off the mark. Recent sales for pristine examples support this claim. There is no doubt that you can find some for considerably less than that sum, but their condition will suffer accordingly. This Toronado would seem to need nothing, and it would suit the prospective buyer who wants a classic that they can enjoy immediately.

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Comments

  1. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Beautiful Olds, the condition is outstanding. Love the color, too. I’m sure it hasn’t been driven much over the last few years so you’d want to go over the mechanicals, flush out the old fluids and check out how old the tires are. Other than that, it appears nothing else is needed to begin enjoying this Olds. Considering what other cars from the ’60s are selling for, the ask for this Tornado seems fair.

    Like 25
  2. alphasud Member

    I agree with Ford guy that this car represents a great value. When I was in my early 20’s a friend of mine’s father in law had a light blue 66 stored in his garage. It was beautiful like this one. He gave it to his grandson as a gift when he turned 16. He didn’t appreciate the car and proceeded to drive it into the ground. To this day I still feel sick about it. Great car and really showed GM’s creative thinking in the 60’s like the Corvair I now own.

    Like 19
  3. George Mattar

    Landmark design when GM ruled the world with quality and styling. One of my classmates moms had a new gold 66 Toro. We rode to 5th grade in it. Car and his mom are gone. These were cheap 10 years ago, but gaining in value. I would love to buy it, but my 3 car garage is full. Too nice to sit outside.

    Like 8
  4. Gloin

    Did any of these come with buckets and console from the factory? Seems natural in a car like this but I’ve only seen bench seats in them

    Like 4
    • Jcs

      Buckets were offered in 67, but had very few takers due to the flat floor. The console was a seperate option so there are a few out there that have only buckets but no console at all.

      The Strato-bench offered as standard on the first gen Toronado Deluxe models had a very wide center armrest, the design of the seat actually feels like a snug bucket while still offering the ability to seat six full size adults in total and complete comfort. I’ve never been in another car that could do that, especially one with as much style and class.

      Like 12
    • Miguel

      Why would you want buckets in this car.

      The way this is equipped, it sleeps 4 comfortably.

      Ask me how I know.

      Like 11
    • Lyle A. Rigdon

      Not in ’66-’67.

  5. peteroma

    Buckets and a console were not an option – Olds wanted to highlight the flat floor. The air cleaner does not look like it’s original – it looks like the air cleaners that came in later years on the 455’s.

    Like 2
    • Mark

      I’ve owned almost 40 tornadoes in the late 70s and early 80s. My first 67 had factory bucket seats but no consul. I found a 1966 in the junkyard with factory bucket seats and headrest with a matching consul and took the consul out and put it in my 67. So bucket seats were absolutely an option in both 66 and 67 although very rare. My uncle in Michigan at the time also had a black with red interior factory bucket seat console car. Also, concerning this particular car, nobody’s mentioned that the mirror on the drivers door is from a 67, and not a 66. As previously stated, the front nose emblem is upside down as well.

      Like 1
  6. Arby

    This is the kind of car to buy.
    Not perfect but able to be driven and enjoyed while doing whatever necessary fixes that come up.
    Great example at a reasonable price.

    Like 9
  7. Ricky M

    torque steer anyone?

    Like 1
    • Jcs

      Absolutely zero torque steer.

      I own a 66, 100% original paint, chrome, interior etc. I searched for the past decade for just the right one, these are very hard to find correct and in good condition. Very hard.

      This one has needs. Front end has been hit, pretty hard imo. Wrong engine color. Wrong air cleaner assembly. Some sloppy upholstery work. Miscellaneous other things can be seen just in these photographs.

      Myy pet peeve of all time is the Olds Rocket emblem on the front being upside down. It’s amazing to me how many times I have seen this over the years, immediately rules out a car to me. That lack of attention to an important detail tells me a lot about the car, none of it good in my mind.

      Incredible cars, nothing else like them on the road, then or now.

      Like 19
      • DON

        To add to the lack of attention , the seller lists it as a Tornado

        Like 2
      • Cain

        So not really a museum piece since this should have focused a lot on originality?

        Or am I getting something wrong?

        Is the “museum piece” just pain marketing?

      • S

        You have a point. It was in the Ransom Olds museum, but the rocket emblem is upside down on the front? How’d they mess that up?

        Like 1
      • Jcs

        In retrospect I may have been just a little harsh on this particular Toronado. It definitely does have its pluses that do balance out its needs to a certain degree and quite frankly it is priced accordingly to be perfectly honest. As I mentioned, these are incredibly hard to find correct and original, I got lucky in finally finding my original condition two long term owner Black plate car. Plus- it is the same color as the one my Dad came home with in 66, when I was a boy, Champagne Mist – as odd as it sounds picture a Silver Gold, that’s it. I got her out of California and to North Atlanta, where she belongs! The color palette that Olds offered on these was unique, and gorgeous in many cases.

        Laurel mist is a very rare color and looks great on this car, especially over black. Very sharp.

        The black over Red one mentioned further down this thread sounds amazing. The red that was offered in 66 was a very dark, rich red – think mahogany. I’d love to see that one!

        Like 1
    • On and On On and On Member

      Drove a brand new 1970 Toronado from Chicago to San Diego in January of 1970 as a “Drive Away” car. No rental fee, with gas allowance for someone moving who doesn’t want to drive cross country. The woman owner had it packed to the gills! Trunk, back seat, and front seat up to the armrest. I moved junk to the floors so I could see out the passenger window and the rear view mirror. Awesome car. Left Chicago in a blizzard, car went through like a champ. No torque steer. If you want torque steer try a Fiat 128 in a corner and floor it…………you’ll be floored. Hang on Jesus.

      Like 6
  8. 1-MAC

    They came with “Strato Bucket”seats, but I do not think a console/ Three easily ride in front and back. We had a 66 Absolutely the best road car I ever drove. Loved the interstate at 85. Rock solid rain or snow never mattered. This would make someone a great car.

    Like 8
  9. mike b

    Shouldn’t be torque steer with longitudinal mounted engine as drive shafts are equal length. (Unlike transverse engine arrangement with unequal drive shafts.)

    It’s a beauty!

    Like 9
    • Dave

      Oldsmobile incorporated Positraction into the Toro to try to keep the power delivery to the front wheels as equal as possible.

      Like 4
  10. Ken

    Original Air Cleaner Housing had narrow diameter dual snorkels and said Toronado on top, It was similar to base Corvette engine air cleaner.

    Like 2
  11. stephen arnott Member

    I’ve got one of these – fearsome thing to drive!But,drum brakes.

    Like 1
  12. Poppy

    So glad the seller included all those blurry photos in the CL ad.

    Like 3
  13. mainlymuscle

    My 66 Toro is black on red,and they are fantastic cars !
    I wish they would make something today that handles frost heaves and ruts like this 54 year old Oldsmobile does.I daily a Bentley Gt,and I love the car,but it’s not a sportscar ,it’s a “GT “,and I would forgo some of the handling for a smoother ride.I’ve been saying for years that these won’t be bargains forever,but it’s been a long haul.I will say that young folks at my gym go absolutely crazy over mine,as they do my 59 El Camino.Styling that falls into the “work of art ” category is timeless.Issues aside,this is a bargain,on the verge of a steal.Finding the very cool dual snorkel air cleaner is going to be a lot easier than restoring the bodywork,chrome,or interior.
    Car is a winner , all the way !

    Like 2
    • Mark

      Please send me pictures of your black and red 66. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one that color in 66. I’ve owned almost 40 66 through 67 tornadoes. My uncle had a black and red 67 with factory bucket seats and consul in the late 70s. Would love to own one like yours.

    • Gregory William Carter

      My grandparents had a red exterior/ black interior Tornado. Can you send me a picture? Just for old times sake. coolcarters@sbcglobal.net

  14. Maestro1 Member

    This is simple. If I had the room I’d buy it. Good luck to the new owner. One
    hint: Either before or after purchase drive the car at 60mph and turn the head-
    lights on. If they don’t function at that speed,, there is a
    kit available to change to electric function. I had an early ’66, GM changed the
    headlight function to work properly. Very exciting to drive an early Toronado in the rain at night and have the headlights disappear.

    Like 2
  15. Jranders Member

    Love it, but heart is still set on a ’67 Buick Riviera GS as my all time favorite. Buick family through to the core here.

    Like 4
    • Big_Fun Member

      Yes! First year of the new 430 cid, and such a beautiful shape! The pinnacle of the 2nd gen Riviera. To me, the pinnacle of ALL generations of Riviera!

      Like 1
    • DNelson

      Had one 66 Toro and loved driving it – like driving nothing else as one guy above said! BUT also amongst my MANY old cars owned were a 66 Riviera GS and a 67 Riviera – both with Deluxe interiors, and full power. I wish I had kept one as they are MY all time fave mid sixties personal luxury cars! If my 68 Cougar xr7 brings enough when ready to sell, I may just have to have a 67 Riv!!!

  16. wcshook

    Do you remember the first time you saw someone smoke the tires, the first time? I do. That is my first memory of the Toronado. I was around 11 or 12. That was so strange seeing the smoke coming from the front tires.

    Like 2
  17. Jason Linn

    Looking at picking this up this Friday. From everyone chiming in looks to be a good deal. Other than nose emblem and air cleaner, anything else to look for? How do I know if its a 425 or a swapped in 455? Is it priced where it should be? Thanks everyone. Always loved this color.

    Like 1

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