Introduced to the public on October 14, 1965, the luxurious Toronado was America’s first front-wheel drive car since the Cord 810, 30 years earlier. Its clean styling was a landmark—rated by William Mitchell, studio chief at the time, as one of the best-looking General Motors cars ever.
Heavily flared wheelarches suggested enormous wheels, its rear wings and roof pillars blended into one smooth plane, and retractable headlamps added to frontal elegance. Oldsmobile’s engineers deemed the shape perfect for the front-wheel drive platform they’d spent seven years perfecting.
Front-drive “XP-784” prototypes disguised with Oldsmobile 98 bodies had undergone an unprecedented 1.5 million miles (2.4 million kilometers) of road testing. Consequently, the Toronado was overengineered, with beefed-up Hydramatic automatic transmission and even custom Firestone tires with stiffened sidewalls.
Torsion bar front suspension was chosen for its compactness, and at the back was a beam axle on leaf springs. Suspension, powertrain, and floorpan were all carried in a large subframe, to limit noise and vibration transfer to the passengers. The sole weakness was its all-drum brakes, which were prone to fading; front discs remedied that.
This Oldsmobile drew acclaim for its traction and roadholding, receiving Motor Trend magazine’s Car Of The Year award. The first-generation car lasted until 1970. The Toronado name, however, while dynamic-sounding, was totally meaningless.
“The Toronado is like most American cars, with all the vices and virtues that entails—but with superior handling under adverse road conditions, and slightly better space utilization”
Road Test In Road & Track Magazine, 1965
Video: Model of the car Oldsmobile Toronado
Specification: Model of the car Oldsmobile Toronado
YEAR REVEALED: 1965
PLACE OF ORIGIN: Detroit, Michigan
HISTORICAL STATUS: production car
ENGINE: V8-cylinder, 425–454ci (6,965–7,446cc)
MAXIMUM POWER: 400bhp
LAYOUT: front-mounted engine driving the front wheels
BODYWORK: two-door, four-seater coupé
TOP SPEED: 135mph (217kph)
NUMBER BUILT: 143,134