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Olds Toronado

the old RWD toronados(up to '71-'72) were great cars, especially when equipped with an olds 350rocket engine or somethin a little larger. in the late 80's and early 90's the toronado was still a nice RWD luxury car with decent power from it's small v-8.


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    ...the Toronado has always been FWD! I didn't think you could get a 350 in one until they downsized 'em for 1979. I know the '77-78 had a 403, and the bigger ones in the 70's had Olds 455's. I forget what the predecessor was to the 455 though. I want to say a 425 or 430?
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    The Toronado has been, since day one, front wheel drive. I remember when I was a kid in the late 80s, going to the ice races in Jaffery, NH. It was usually a bunch of '70s American RWD war wagons out there, until one day some smart-aleck showed up in a FWD Subaru (this was New England, after all,) and cleaned everyone's clock (chains were only allowed on the drive wheels.) Two weeks later, someone else shows up with a first-gen Toronado, and schooled Subaru Boy something fierce.
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    Didn't the old Saabs tend to clean up at the ice races?
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    They may have, but I never saw one running the races I attended. Given the region of the country in question, it is surprising.
  • Probably you're thinking of the old Saab two-strokes, which were excellent ice racers....but they were mostly all dead by the late 1980s.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    had the 425/385. Olds always claimed some of the highest hp per CID, from the 330 up. They're good engines but I always wondered if the ratings were inflated. I had a '66 Starfire with the 425/375 and it didn't feel like what I thought 375 hp should feel like. Maybe it was just that car.
  • I think most 60s cars had inflated HP ratings, yes, as evidenced by the fact that modern cars of lesser HP can often beat them up badly.

    What they DID have though was a very raw and exciting kind of HP, which makes them brutal and fun to drive. And they make swell noises, too.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    One thing I've always there an accurate way to convert from gross hp to net hp? Sometimes, if an engine didn't change much, you can just look at whatever its 1972 net hp spec was. For instance, the Mopar 225 slant 6 was rated at 145 hp gross, but 110 net in '72, while retaining the same compression ratio (8.4, I think it was). So I'd guess it's safe to say that any 225 1-bbl from 1960 to 1971 would put out about 110 hp. But I think GM cut their compression ratios from '71 to '72, so they were legitimately losing power while transitioning to net HP.

    As for inflating the HP figures, I remember reading an old magazine (maybe Popular Mechanics or something?) that tested 3 engines to find their true HP. I remember they tested a Mopar 340, and Oldsmobile 4-something, and some big Ford engine. I think the 340 put out something like 92% of its advertised hp, while the Olds was only good for about 60%. The Ford was somewhere in between.
  • the toronado has NOT always been FWD, it was built off the same basic chassis as the delta 88 and ninety eight, which were both RWD and domestic V-8's back in that time were ALL RWD, and the toronado stayed RWD up through the late 80's and early 90' may be thinking of another car...
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    on any Toronado, and you won't find one. However, the engine is mounted longitudinally, just like a RWD car. So under the hood, it still looks RWD. Anyway, the Toronado platform served as the basis for the Eldorado in '67, which is FWD as well. Both were downsized to the E-platform for 1979, and were joined by the Buick Riviera. They still had longitudinal engines, mainly Olds 350's that first year, but they were still FWD. For 1986, they were downsized again, this time with transverse-mounted Buick 3.8's (A Caddy 4.1 for the Eldo/Seville).

    Also, while the earlier Toro's were FWD, they used some kind of chain-drive system instead of CV joints like most modern FWD cars. So they were still very rugged. Check out for more info on them. Also, the Toronado served as the basis for the GMC motorhome, which was also FWD, and because of it, was able to have a lower floor height and lower overall height.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Dude, you need to check your history. The Toronado's claim to a footnote in automotive history was that it was the first American mass-produced FWD car.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    There's a great book called "American Supercar" by Roger Huntington that has estimated net hp for most of the musclecar engines. You need to be sceptical about anything you see in print but Roger wrote and looked like the SAE engineer he was. He also wrote for Hot Rod for years where as I recall he predicted that no rail would break 100 in the quarter, but don't count that one.

    Here's a few excerpts:
    '64 Olds 442 330/310 advertised hp (240 estimated net hp)
    '65 Olds 442 400/345 (250 net)
    '66 Buick Gran Sport 401/325 (240)
    '66 Fairlane/Mustang 390/335 (230)
    '66 GTO 389/335 (270)
    '68 Olds 442 400/350 (280)
    '68 Plymouth GTX 440/375 (330)
    '69 Ford Torino Corbra 428/335 (310)
    '70 Chevelle SS 396/350 (280)

    These net ratings make a lot of sense. They explain why late-'50s engines like the 390 and 401 were so uncompetitive. The base GTO 389 is from the same era but surprisingly strong, I guess because it had updated heads. The '65 Olds 400 was a new engine but doesn't have a clear edge until the heads were redesigned in '68. The 440 four-barrel is a torque engine. By '69 Ford had learned to under-rate their engines for class racing which is why the 428 CJ's net hp is so close to advertised hp.
  • bushonebushone Posts: 39
    varies (from Trans type/driveshaft etc)will effect HP numbers and will show different RWHP numbers. Personally I would rather have numbers showing how much HP I have at the Rear Wheels (or Front wheels ;) than Crank HP.

    As a general rule of thumb we use 15 to 20% (A4 vs 6 sp) drive train loss from the crank HP numbers on our LS1 346 CI engines. Now, old THM 400 Trany's were said to take a full 28 hp away from RWH numbers. THM 350's were considerably less parasitic.

    In order to get true HP numbers on the older cars, I think you need to find out how much HP is eaten up before it puts the rubber down.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,590
    ...also something about them just being able to wind up faster than a TH400. I've also heard that the TH400 is a popular tranny to rig up behind a Mopar 440 on the dragstrip, because it robs less hp than a TF727.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    I was stationed at Lowry AFB, Denver. I was looking for a car...on one lot sat a '67 Toronado in beautiful condition...I beleive it was equipped with the 455 engine. It was pretty quick, whatever it was. I thought the rotating speedometer was really cool. Reality soon set in, though, as the day after I looked at it, I received orders to Ellsworth AFB, SD. Not wanting to keep a car like that in a climate like that (nor drive up there to Rapid City in a vehicle that got about 9 mpg) I went with something a bit more practical-- an '89 Acura Integra. Still, that Toronado would have been pretty cool.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Someone donated it to an organization I belonged to and they turned it over to me for some detailing before they sold it. I really don't remember much about it except that it was a '68, it cleaned up nicely and it was very smooth but not particularly sporty. The styling of the '66-67 is righteous.

    Bushone would one of those "bang shift" Turbos that GM used behind high-performance engines have less parasitic loss?
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,240
    The original Toronado by jlflemmons Aug 12, 2001 (08:33 pm)

    as released in 1966 was first conceptualized by Oldsmobile in 1954. The intake manifold on the '66 model 425 was a weirdo in that the base of the carb sat lower than the intake ports of the heads. Seems like that would really screw things up, but you haven't seen a burnout until you see one of those monsters light up the front wheels. Both wheels, as the '66 and '67 I know had a locker style FWD system. You had to let up, 'cause all that smoke from the front tires would block your view. BTW, as a young man, I was asked to ride with a lady to her house and bring
    her '66 Toro back to the shop. On the way, I saw a large block of cement in the highway. When I realized she intended to stradle it, I nearly fainted. Dead centered the cross-member and ripped a hole in the transmission pan. When I finally could breathe again, I explained to her that the '66 Toro only had about 5" of ground clearance on a GOOD day. We towed the car back to the shop, replaced the pan and noted that the crossmember was barely scarred. Those were the days when frames had a LOT of steel in them.

  • ffsteveffsteve Posts: 243
    I have to say this was the first car I ever "noticed" as a young lad in the 60's. My dad subscribed to Mechanics Illustrated, which had regular test articles by Tom McCahill. He was a character, one time tested a houseboat in Florida, in another article highlighted the size of the trunk of a car by how many hunting dogs could lay in it (with the car parked!).

    I fell in love with the new '66 Toronado from the pictures in that magazine. And McCahill's description of the dirt, stones, and bits of rubber exploding from the front of the car when he stomped on the gas wass captivating for a 9 year old.

    I later found an engineering dissertation on its development in the library at UCSD when I should have been studying. Since this was the first modern front drive V8, GM/Olds put a lot of design effort into the transmission. It had a chain drive all right, but not to the wheels. Because of the longitudinal placement of the engine, the transmission/transaxle sits beneath the block and the chain transfers the power from the crankshaft down to the transmission input shaft below. I remember the chain was more of a belt, about 4-5 inches wide looking like multiple chains fastened together. Common drive shafts linked the front wheels to the transaxle. I think I remember the front drive outputs actually passed through the sides of the oil pan - or similar - the detail escapes me at the moment. (But I'm fired up enough to research and confirm this point.)

    I also considered buying one in the late 70's, but common sense prevailed and I decided to stay in my Corvair (or was that really common sense?).

    But the memory of that photo in Mechanics Illustrated of the Toronado accelerating in a cloud of dirt, stones, and tire debris from the front wheels is still sharp!

    Thanks for the discussion.

  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    here in Chicago they rust away (though the FWD was handy), have awful brakes and THEY EAT TIRES FOR LUNCH.
  • Yep, tires and gas will keep you in a lower income bracket if this is going to be your everyday driver.
This discussion has been closed.