The finale to the traditional Toronado
The third generation Oldsmobile Toronado was built from 1979 until 1985. It was still a showy personal luxury coupe. It was powered by three different engines available for the day. I am only referencing the 5.0 litre V8 engine which had a better power-to-weight ratio and was better suited to an automobile of this size. The third generation Oldsmobile Toronado was the last of the full-size models. Its precision size added to its appeal. It was still a full-size personal luxury car.
This generation presented a long hood, formal roofline, and short rear deck which are all hallmarks of a Toronado. These were perfect for today’s world. Automobiles should never become any smaller than this precision size. The Oldsmobile Toronado lost all of its charisma beginning with the fourth generation beginning in 1986. The next generation of the Toronado resembled the lower priced Oldsmobile models and immediately lost clientele.
Oldsmobile Toronado with optional mock convertible roof
The more formal landau roof treatment with opera lamps
Can you see the Eldorado in this Toronado?
The 1984 Oldsmobile Toronado was available in two distinctive models, the Brougham and top of the line Caliente. The Caliente trim package was available for the 1984-1985 model years. This was the classier upgrade. The luxurious Caliente had signature exterior features that included special bright stainless-steel rocker moldings, special body side moldings that crowned a unique padded landau roof treatment. Interior refinements included a luxurious suede-like fabric or full leather trim, digital instrumentation, and special nomenclature. The Caliente included all comfort and convenience features from the Brougham. This is a highly sought version of the Toronado for the serious collector. The Oldsmobile Toronado Caliente and Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz were the top of the line personal luxury cars for General Motors.
The Toronado Brougham was as elegant as previous years. With standard comfort and convenience features including Four Season air conditioning, front and rear folding center arm rests, Quartz Digital clock, soft ray glass, power steering and brakes, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power windows and door locks, power seat, and AM/FM Stereo radio. Luxurious knit cloth or available glove-soft leather-covered the exclusive dual comfort front seats. The Toronado Brougham provided all the creature comforts of a personal luxury car.
The list of standard features grew for the 1984 model year. Computer Command control was introduced as an all-new engine management system for the day. High energy ignition system, power four-wheel disc brakes, automatic level control, Tungsten Halogen head lamps, and cornering lamps were just a few of the myriad standard comfort and convenience features.
The best engine choice available is the 5.0 litre 307 16-valve V8 engine. The Toronado – despite its radical downsizing – was still a heavy car that required a V8 engine. The 5.0 litre V8 produced 140 hp @ 3,600 rpm with 324 Nm of peak torque @ 1,600 rpm. It was mated to GM’s Turbo Hydra-Matic 325-4L 4-speed automatic transmission. The 5.7 litre 350 CID V8 gasoline powered V8 was standard for the 1979 model year. It was also mated to GM’s 3-speed automatic transmission. The 5.0 litre was optional and available beginning the 1980 model year. Out of all the engines available for the third generation Toronado, the 5.7 litre was perfect for this car. The 4.1 litre V6 (Buick) and the awful 5.7 litre diesel should never have been offered in a vehicle of this size and stature. The 5.0 litre became standard for the 1985 model year.
The third generation Oldsmobile Toronado was built as body on frame construction. These Toronados were 206” in length, 71.4” in width, and rode upon a 114” wheelbase. This generation was the last to be built as body on frame with a longitudinally mounted engine. The third generation Toronado shed nearly 1,000 lbs. and more than 20” in length. Sadly enough, this was the prelude to the end of the Oldsmobile brand and many consider this generation as a “wake” for the demise…the fourth generation was actually hospice for the Toronado…the 1986 model year was the fatal error which sent the brand into an obscurity from which they never recovered.
Oldsmobile Toronado was the perfect marriage of luxury and logic. This is the car that got America moving with modern-day front-wheel drive. The Oldsmobile Unitized Power Package exemplified component design and space utility. It is a car of uncompromising elegance. Spacious interiors with flat floors augmented both comfort and convenience. The overall size made these automobiles handle excellently.
If you are in the market to purchase a Toronado from this genre, approach with caution. Rust ate these cars relentlessly from the inside out. Vehicles from the Snow Belt have corrosion in places that one cannot see. Rust in the door seams are a serious detriment. The custom roof treatments were nice but if they weren’t applied properly and sealed they absorbed water and calcium chloride (road salts) like a sponge resulting in non-repairable situations. The corrosion will eat through critical body seams. Inspect the chassis for corrosion as well. Rust made some of these turn into toast that could not be restored. Remove the back seat and carpeting…if you can see spots of the pavement you don’t want that car. I have seen chassis so far gone that I could stick a Bic pen through it leaving gaping holes.
The body filler panels around the bumpers will most likely need to be replaced. There are aftermarket filler panels but beware, the cheap versions will be perfectly obvious AFTER they are installed. These do not fit as seamlessly as the original parts. You get what you pay for!
The 5.0 litre engines are pretty durable. Parts are available at reasonable prices. Most of the work can be done relatively inexpensively because many of the parts are interchangeable with other GM parts.
The third generation of the Oldsmobile Toronado was truly the last of the breed. Their size was perfect for the times. As long as one chose a V8 engine there were no issues. They were still roomy full-size automobiles with style. The Olds Toronado, Cadillac Eldorado, and the Buick Riviera were all sharing the same platform. General Motors is so busy trying to mock European cars, they have forgotten to be the true industry leaders they once were. General Motor’s automobiles have become biodegradable, issue-riddled, nondescript, afterthoughts. Will GM ever recover the ground that they lost to become the industry leaders again?
Thanks to Bob Adams Classic Cars
1978 Oldsmobile Toronado
1984 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham