No Reserve: 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado Deluxe

When it was released in 1966, the Oldsmobile Toronado was considered to be a groundbreaking car. It represented the first front-wheel-drive American production car since the demise of the Cord in 1937. This Toronado Deluxe is an original and unrestored survivor, and it has generated its fair share of interest since being listed for sale here on eBay in a No Reserve auction. The Oldsmobile is located in Richmond, Virginia, and with a total of 20 bids having been submitted up to this point, this has pushed the price along to $3,383 with 3-days left to run on the listing.

The owner of the Toronado describes the condition of the Silver Mist paint on the vehicle as being a 9½ out of 10. The photos that he supplies aren’t the greatest, but they do show some promise. There are no signs of any obvious dings or dents, nor are there any signs of rust issues. He does say that the floors are solid, but as you will see as we work through the car, there is some pretty compelling evidence to suggest that the vehicle has spent some time in a damp environment. With that in mind, I would suggest that I would be attempting to perform a personal inspection if this is at all possible. The external trim and chrome appears to all be present, and its condition looks to be quite good. Similarly, the glass also appears to be free of any significant defects or obvious problems.

Lifting the hood on the Toronado reveals just what made this car so revolutionary when it was new. When Cord ceased production, front-wheel-drive technology remained largely forgotten in the US. However, when it emerged, it did so in a way that was, quite literally, big. The Unitized Power Package, or UPP, managed to allow Oldsmobile to fit a V8 engine and automatic transmission with front-wheel-drive capabilities, into a very confined space. In this case, we find that the V8 is a 425ci monster, producing 385hp. This copious power is fed to the front wheels via a 3-speed THM425 automatic transmission. With so much power being fed to the same wheels that also perform steering duties, the potential for torque-steer was always going to be enormous. Therefore, power steering helped to insulate the driver from the worst of it. Braking duties were tackled by power-assisted 4-wheel drum brakes. At 4,568lbs, this is one pretty heavy piece of machinery. Therefore it is impressive to consider that even with all of that weight and the inherent disadvantages that can be part-and-parcel of an FWD package in such situations, the Toronado could still cover the ¼ mile in 15.6 seconds. The owner indicates that the vehicle has been sitting in a warehouse for some time. He says that the carburetor will require some attention if the 425 is to run properly, while a service and thorough inspection would probably also be a pretty wise move. I earlier made mention of evidence that the Olds had spent some time in a damp environment, and it is the condition of a number of components in the engine bay that fuels this belief. There are plenty of painted surfaces that have corrosion breaking through the paint itself, and this isn’t limited to one or two isolated components. That is why I tend to think that a personal inspection would be a wise strategy.

The owner describes the interior as being in great shape and given a cursory glance, it does look quite promising. The upholstery on the seats and door trims looks very nice, with no signs of any rips, tears, or cracks. However, the carpet is looking really tired, and in some spots, it actually looks like it is rotten. In isolation that probably wouldn’t be a major concern, but when you couple that with some of the corrosion that is appearing on some of the plated components inside the car, it does start to become a little more troubling. As is the case under the hood, there are also a few painted items with corrosion poking its way through the paint, which just seems to be adding fuel to the fire. Having said all of that, the interior does appear to be completely original and unmolested, with no signs of any missing components. The owner also states in the listing that the car comes equipped with air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power seats, and cruise control. He gets no arguments from me about the A/C, but some of the other items need to have a question mark placed over them. I can see a very manual window crank on the passenger door, and there is also no sign of the switch to operate the cruise control. As for the rest, I can’t be sure about that.

When we look at the development of automotive technology over the years, it is interesting to think that today it is extremely difficult to find any manufacturer who is willing to try to feed more than about 240hp through the front wheels of their latest creation. Oldsmobile was nothing if not brave because 385hp is an awful lot to feed to the same wheels that do the steering. The Toronado was not developed as a muscle car, but it did achieve its aim of being a spacious luxury car. When I first looked at the listing for this particular car, I thought that it showed enormous promise. Well, perhaps it still does, but the amount of evidence that points to longterm exposure to a damp environment really places a question marl over this car in my mind. Nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong on this point. What do you think?


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  1. Mark P

    I think I read in the past that the UPP was the power train in some GM motorhomes too. Like the one on the movie Stripes. Same wheels and all.

    Like 4
  2. Wayne

    Later years saw the FWD setup in the Eldorado. And yes, the wheels look similar on the GMC coach, but they are very much stronger and heavier than the Toronada/Eldorado wheels. (The front wheel drive differential is also a stronger heavier unit.) As an aside piece of info. In my opinion, the front was so heavy that they actually used weight saving measures on the rear of the car. As in the frame of the car only goes as far as the front pivot on the rear leaf springs. The rear shackles are attached to the body not a frame. (This also makes for more room, especially in the trunk area.)

    Like 1
  3. Leon

    My father had one. The same exterior but with a white interior. The floor was flat because it had a front-wheel drive. It had a tremendous amount of torque, you could feel it pushing you back into the seats. The milage was awful but in a brutish sort of way it was fun to drive.

    Like 1
  4. Mark

    Absolutely NOT original upholstery. The seats should be rolled and pleated. These have been recovered and a terrible job

    Like 6
    • David Richeh Member

      You’re right, the front seats don’t even match the ribbed rear seat.

      Like 2
  5. Rob

    Seller says it has power windows, but the manual window crank is visible in the interior shot where the passenger door shows!

    Like 1
  6. 1-MAC

    I had a 66 deLuxe Toro. It was fast and the best road car I have ever driven Rock solid steady at 85 plus rain,snow wind no problem. Nothing ever broke and it got abused a little. I can only imagine how it might have handled with radial tires(originals were 2 ply) and good shocks. Wish I still had it.

    Like 1
  7. R Prena

    Apparently these were coveted by the Demolition Derby crowd because they could be backed up repeatedly at high speed into the other cars without becoming disabled?

    • bone

      No, they didn’t like them for the opposite ; the front axle joints would break when hit ,as opposed to having the front spindle bend on a RWD . The “outlaw” derbies use the front mostly anyway. Not saying nobody ever put them in , but all the ones I ever saw didn’t last too long .

  8. Wayne

    The Buzzard Brothers Rally Team (2 college kids up in Houghton Mich UP) shortened one of these and ran POR (Press On Regardless) in 1979 and 1980. (At the time, the largest and most prestigious pro rally in the US)
    They had the nose chopped off and had a Chevy Van front grille. The factory front nose piece with the headlamps was mounted to the roof. The first year they had the timing chain/cam gear fail. And I think the second year they did manage to finish. (I did not, I was stuck in the mud up to my door handles from an off road excursion when running about 10th overall.) I would love to post a picture of the Buzzard Bros. Toronado. But the ex got all the photos in the divorce.

  9. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Sold? Not sold?

    There was some weird stuff going on at the end of the original auction, including bids and retractions by zero-feedback types.

    Anyway, the car is relisted with a BIN of $6500, and a “Make Offer” button.

    Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      And… That auction went weird too, with another relist which has disappeared into a black hole.

  10. Arthur Gage

    I gotta deposit on one myself, light blue metallic, can’t wait to pay it off, should get a 1:43 scale replica I saw on eBay (also light blue) & stick it in the window or backseat lol

    Like 1
  11. California Silvermist

    As stated above, not original interior, and a rust bucket with candy coat, that engine is quite rusted and there is a lot of engine wear. The entire backside of the driver seat is decayed. Found this thread searching for reference photos to help refurbish mine, same exterior color. Glad I got mine 10 years ago as they have almost disappeared from used market here in LA.

    Like 1

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