Same Owner Since New: 1973 Oldsmobile Toronado

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General Motors will step outside of its comfort zone from time to time and introduce a product different than the others in its portfolio. One example is the 1960 Chevy Corvair with its rear-mounted, air-cooled engine. Another is the 1966 Olds Toronado, the first U.S.-built production car with front-wheel drive since the Cord of the 1930s. The Toronado would be around much longer (through 1992), including this one-owner example from 1973. With low mileage, it’s in great original condition and ready for more action from San Francisco, California. The big luxury machine is available here on craigslist for $12,500. Another grand tip brought to us by Pat L.!

Oldsmobile borrowed the E-platform from Buick’s 1963 Riviera but changed things up to work with FWD, which would be used again by Cadillac a year later (1967) for its revived Eldorado. The Toronado was something of a large GT-style car that evolved into a full-scale personal luxury vehicle. One of its notables is the development of a transaxle version of General Motors’ Turbo-Hydramatic transmission which was dubbed the TH-425. The second generation of the Toronado was produced from 1971 to 1978, after which it went through the downsizing exercise that many of GM’s products went through in that era.

Cars like the Toronado got one of the biggest of GM’s engines, the 455 cubic inch V8 (only bested at the time by the 500 in the Caddy Eldorado). But the motor had been detuned from its heyday of just a few years earlier to run on unleaded fuel. The seller’s auto has said powerplant and – at 51,000 miles – is numbers-matching and we’re told it runs great, a result of careful use and maintenance over the duration.

The photos of the car are not the greatest or plentiful in numbers, perhaps reflecting some hesitation on the owner’s part to sell. After all, he/she has had the vehicle for 50 years and that makes is practically a member of the family. The sheet metal has no filler material (we’re told), and the car’s original white paint looks to be in great shape. What we see of the interior is tidy and inviting, perhaps the perfect place to spend many an hour driving on the open road. Just remember, though, you’ll be doing it at 10 mpg.

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  1. Nostromo

    I got to drive one of these back in May 1997. It was a dark bronze 1973 model. The hood seemed 50 feet long; that is an exaggeration of course but that is the effect when seated behind the wheel. I got to squire my girlfriend and her friend to dinner at Reese’s on Rt. 611 near Doylestown, PA. Reese’s was home to ‘Bucks County’s Best Prime Rib!’ I wasn’t in any position to argue, it was very good.

    My girlfriend’s friend opened the garage to reveal the 1973 Toronado which had belonged to her father. “We’re going in this, we’re going in-style!” (verbatim quote). I was a bit in-awe of the car.

    The huge Toronado had a good road feel and tracked straight. Where I had to learn-on-the-job was in maneuvering in Reese’s relatively small parking lot but I managed. On the way home, stuffed with bread, salad and prime rib, the lady said, ‘Put your foot in it!’ and the Rocket V8 lived up to its name.

    Like 30
    • John

      Yeah I’m in the Poconos had a 76. Nice cars if you like doing transmission work every few weeks HhhhaaAa. Poorest designed drivetrain ever for something so heavy.

      Like 0
      • Steve

        No, one of the most durable. They used the same unit in large motor homes. I’ve had several and drag raced one and never had any trans issues. Prettt much a bulletproof drivetrain.

        Like 5
  2. Ed

    Nice ride. Tough to find a slip for one of these. Hard to believe these are 50 years old. Also hard to believe I am older and remember seeing these on display at the Chicago Auto Show.

    Like 19
    • Nostromo

      All the more stunning and remarkable when you see one which looks to have been transported through time as we see here.

      Like 12

      Went to many of the auto shows at McCormick Place … my cousin traded his ’71 Cutlass Supreme on a ’73 Toronado at Jack Haggerty Olds on Western after seeing it at the auto show … bought my ’72 Cutlass ‘S’ there also …

      Like 7
  3. KC JohnMember

    I think it’s gorgeous. A great example of a era in good ol’ USA. GLWTS

    Like 15
  4. yachtsmanbill

    I had a 1974/455 car that I loved! I drive it for a solid 1-1/2 years and it frequently made 600 mile weekend trips with out issue; BUT, the 10 MPG statement is off. On cruise control at 70 mph, it was a consistent consumer of gas at 17+ mpgs. That flat front floor was the best thing. A single full width power seat… BAMM!

    Like 17
  5. Nelson C

    Almost too beautiful for words. In our small town this or a Ninety -Eight was what you drove when you had a little money. Something similar but no Cadillac or Lincoln. I love the color combo and the luxury interior pretty much guarantee that it has all the power touches.

    Like 6
  6. Jake8687

    Mom used to chase groceries in her 73 Toro. My big brother used to smoke the front tires with reckless abandon. Car had a great ride and did well in moderate snowfall. We were a family of 7 and somehow we all fit; granted I was the youngest and smallest at that time, wedged between mom and my brother.

    Like 7
    • Steve

      No, one of the most durable. They used the same unit in large motor homes. I’ve had several and drag raced one and never had any trans issues. Prettt much a bulletproof drivetrain.

      Like 4
    • Edward Benavides

      Ahhh. The great GM cars of the 70s. So solid a true great car. My fave was a 76 Electra PA Incredible body. Would love to find one today. It was a better looking car than the 76 sadan de Ville

      Like 0
  7. John

    In the early 80’s i bought a cranberry red 73 with white vinyl top from a friend’s parents with about 30K on it. it had been garaged its whole life. What a car and with that 455, what a rocket! It and my 72 Cutlass Supreme were the best cars I ever owned. Reverse doughnuts in the snow were the best!!! The biggest problem with the Toronado was keeping front tires good on it. Steel belted was not an option because if you hit a pothole, the belts would shift and then the tire was junk. Fiberglass belted was the way to go! And yes, a full width front bench and no floor hump, it was like your Livingroom!!! Seat all the way back, couldn’t touch the pedals!!! This is a nice example!!!

    Like 7
  8. FrankDMember

    One of Oldsmobile’s best!

    Like 5
  9. Larry G

    Had a friend in the early 80s that used one in a demo derby. Had the 455, was in pretty nice shape and we thought he was nuts. He was doing really well until he reversed with a hard left with it floored and blew out a CV joint. That was it. I’m sure he did something with the engine though, he always had a project.

    Like 2
    • Nostromo

      Ouch! I could almost feel that.

      Like 0
  10. Mario

    I’ve always loved the Toronado. My parents bought a ’68 when I was 12. I was so fascinated by that car it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen up to that point. I learned to drive in it. I was so sad when they sold it.

    Like 0
  11. Benny the Gooch

    I had one, mine came from factory with the 500 cubic inch by accident, ran well, they were supposed to put a Hemi in it but design flaws prevented it.

    Like 1

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