100-millionth General Motors vehicle built worldwide: 1966 Toronado built
on March 16, 1966
- First American production front wheel drive automobile built since the
- First new car introduction to exceed 50% factory air conditioning installation
rate. 30,313 were so equipped.
Above: 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado drive train was unique in that its front wheel
drive meant that the front wheels propelled the car, pulling it down the
road instead of pushing it. The difference in traction and handling was
incredible. Constant velocity joints allowed the front wheels to perform
their duties. The Toronado was the first American production car to feature
front wheel drive since the demise of the Cord automobile in 1937.
Like all cars, the first generation Toronados have their fair share of
issues. Knowing what specifically to look for makes it easier to find the
right car, and avoid surprises down the road. Probably one of the most
notable issues on these cars are the brakes. Really, they should have been
better. With finned drums all the way around, the heavy Toronado can push
them to the limit fairly quickly, if not driven properly. One thing that
helps is to have the brake shoes arced to fit the drums. While new shoes
may be pre-arced, they do not match up with the drums on any specific car.
Doing this greatly improves the braking effectiveness of these large cars,
makes your new brakes last longer, and evens out the wear pattern of the
You've likely noticed the series of vents under the rear window. They are
part of an interior ventilation feature, and allow air inside the car to
be refreshed without lowering the windows. In order to allow air out, water
must also be allowed to enter. To drain the water, rubber tubes are incorporated
to drain the water out under the car. After years of exposure, the tubes
fail and can allow water to get into areas where it shouldn't, and that
means rust. Replacements are available, but check the luggage compartment
and the area under/behind the back seat carefully for rust. While you're
at it, check for rust in all the usual places, and look closely at the
A pillars as well.
Toronado hoods are heavy, and the hinges can wear out causing the hood
to not stay fully open when raised. After banging your head a few times,
you will want to get this fixed. The hoods can also stick, due also in
part to the hinges. And while under the hood, check that Rochester Quadrajet
carburetor to make sure it isn't leaking gas, it's a common problem. Oh,
and if you find it's hard to start a Toronado after it's been sitting for
a few days, chances are the fuel well plugs are leaking. They can be sealed
up with epoxy, and most carb rebuilders are aware of these issues.
The bezel around the ignition switch is often scratched up pretty badly,
and you might discover that the glove box door sticks. Toronado aficionados
are always searching for good door trim parts, including a piece they call
the "S-strap," named due to its shape. It's easy to spot because
it's usually broken. And don't be surprised to find that the sun visors
are missing their rubber tips that secure them to the mirror bracket, and
keep them from rattling.
If equipped with power windows that don't always work, or only work if
the door is partially open, it's likely that the wiring harness has split
between the door and the car body. The wiring is in a rubber sleeve, and
after years of flexing when the door is moved, wires can break.
If you hear a clicking noise while accelerating on a turn, chances are
your constant velocity joints are bad. They're protected by rubber boots,
which with age and wear can split and expose the joint inside.
The good news is that the engine is rock solid Oldsmobile, which means
it's a powerful and dependable source of motivation. The transmission is
GM's Turbo Hydra-Matic, also a rock solid design.
Early Production Differences
Early production 1966 Toronados differ from later cars in several areas.
The first ones off the assembly line didn't include a provision for shoulder
belts. By February 1, 1966 a threaded plate was mounted behind the sheet
metal above the rear quarter windows, allowing for easy installation of
shoulder belts. Cars with this provision can be identified by a small 1/8-inch
hole stamped into the bottom edge of the cowl tag.
A very few early Toronados sported a crease on the hood and deck lid. The
hood crease is very subtle, and often difficult to spot unless you're looking
for it. The 12-14 inch ridge on the deck lid is more obvious, but is still
somewhat elusive. It's not known when the stampings for these parts changed,
but cars with the crease are certainly the exception.
Early Toronado Deluxe cars had the door assist strap mounted below the
chrome trim band on the door panels (shown, left; click for larger image). It was later relocated and placed in line with the chrome band. Early
cars also lacked several screw holes to affix the door trim panel to the
door, and the easily broken S-strap didn't have any mounting holes at all
at the front edge of the door. The headliners were also different in the
early cars, and can be spotted by the almost random placement of the pattern
Deluxe Models ordered with optional power windows, seat, and door locks
included the controls for these items in the driver's door armrest control
panel. On early cars, the door lock control was placed at the forward edge
of the panel, followed by the power seat controls and then the power window
controls. This placed the window controls almost under the door latch,
and drew complaints from early owners. By January 1966 production, the
door lock control had been moved to the trim panel under the assist strap,
and the power seat and window switches were moved forward on the control
panel to provide easier access.