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Find of the Week: 1987 Oldsmobile Toronado logo 2018-10-10 Evan Williams

Oldsmobile Toronado

Oldsmobile Toronado

Our Find of the Week this week is the end of a nameplate. Once a massive car and a trend-setter, the nameplate slowly grew smaller over the decades. Though that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's one of the last of the classic personal luxury coupes though you might not remember this particular generation all that well. It's obscure, it's 80's, it's cool, and it's got pop-up headlights. It's a 1987 Oldsmobile Toronado.


When the Oldsmobile Toronado debuted in 1965, it was completely different from anything else on the road. It was massive and it was opulent, but that wasn't anything new for the 1960s. What set this one apart was the driveline. No rear-drive here. For the first time since 1937, it was an American automobile with front-wheel drive.

The second-generation of the car, launched for 1970, was even longer. And based on the styling the extra length went entirely to the awkward hood. The 1971 Toronado was not the most beautiful car to ever come out of GM's styling department.

For the third-generation, domestic downsizing finally caught up with the 'Nado. 510 mm in length and 450 kg in weight.

Finally, the last generation. It debuted in 1985. Smaller, lighter, and unibody instead of body on frame. It was the mid-1980s, after all. The old-style luxury car was no longer in fashion. It was a sleeker car than the last two, though it still got the nearly upright rear glass that was common at the time. Good for rear-seat headroom, good for trunk space, maybe not as good for aerodynamics. Or for not looking dated very shortly thereafter. What it did get were pop-up headlights. For the first time since the first-generation car. Though in this case, they were more of a flip cover than a pop-up.

The V8s were gone, though looking at the offerings of the era that's not really a bad thing. In place of them was the long-lived Buick 3.8L V6. Putting about 140 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission.

Inside, this was a surprisingly high-tech car for the time. It was available with a fully digital dash, like the one we've found. The next year, a touchscreen was even offered. The digital dash offered trip computer info like fuel consumption and range. There was a digital climate control with temperature display for inside and out. There was even an auto-reversing cassette deck that could forward to the next track. Ok, none of those are all that fancy anymore, but in 1985 that was cool. It even had automatic headlights with adjustable sensitivity, a feature that many automakers are still not offering.

Oldsmobile didn't forget the past with this one, though. Just look at that basket handle gear shift lever. Very 1960s cool. And the Strato Bucket seats. Because you know you're cool if even your seats have a cool name. Unlike the other GM offerings on the same platform, this one traded big chrome and vinyl roofs for black trim and a flush grille.

Ultimately, after a restyle in 1990 that added 300 mm to the trunk of the car, Toronado sales continued to struggle. Gas prices had gone down instead of up, and buyers in this segment wanted bigger and more ostentatious rides. Production of the Toronado ended in 1992.

Our Find of the Week this week is a 1987 model, for sale in Montreal, PQ. It's blue on blue with a leather interior. It's had just one owner since new and while it's been driven, the car has just 113,000 km on the odometer. It even has the FE3 suspension, which is GM code for the sport handling suspension. And yes, cars equipped with this one could actually handle. Reviews at the time called it nimble and firm.

This one might not be your father's Oldsmobile. But it could be your Oldsmobile. A cool car that's on the edge of becoming a classic.



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