CC Counterpoint: Got The DS Blues? This’ll Perk You Up! Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Toro

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Well, I guess it goes without saying that the 1986 E-body GM coupes are, uh, polarizing (said while wearing his Mister Diplomacy hat). But, I have to admit I like them, though I am aware that they were a little stubby in their original form. But they got more and more attractive as they were refreshed, and I personally feel the 1986-92 (’93 for the Riviera) E-bodies were pretty nice cars–with a couple of caveats, mind. Here’s a rare TrofΓ©o I saw in Rock Falls, IL last summer. Despite my Cadillac love, I might take one of these over a similar Eldo.

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This one was a little weathered, but it was still sharp. And the Toronado was the only one with hidden headlights–and you know how much I love those things! And if that wasn’t enough, it has the dark red leather interior! No touchscreen on this one, though. Although faded, it appeared to have its factory-applied White Diamond paint, making this a 1991 or ’92.

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Why do I like them? Is it just blind preference? No. Back in 1998 I test-drove a Garnet Red 1989 Eldorado with the 4.5L V8, and I absolutely loved it. It drove well, had plenty of power, was comfortable, and had pretty nice handling. No wallowing barge, this car! And I should mention that at the time I was driving a 1991 Volvo 940SE with the Turbo Plus package, black over saddle tan leather. That was a fine handling, fast car too, and for the Caddy to earn my thumbs-up, it had to be good.

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And it was. One thing that was really cool was that dusk was approaching when I drove it. A little monitor below the gauges suddenly came to life, saying “headlamps suggested.” Whoa! How did the car know that? I was also enamored of the plush dark red leather upholstery. Nice car–it must have been, for me to bother taking a photo of it–I was an 18-year old teenager at the time, too!

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I am quite sure the Olds and Buick versions were just as capable–excepting the 1986-87 Eldo with the 4.1 V8. That 4.1 engine is primo DS material, but that’s a topic for another day. You have to give Cadillac points for improving the Eldo’s proportions in the 1988 refresh–and then giving buyers a much better engine in the 4.5. The later 4.9 made these cars luxurious hot rods! Just look at the ’86 and the ’88. I’ll take the ’88, and not just because it is my favorite yellow/yellow color combination!

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I like the 1989-93 Rivieras too. The elongated tails the Toro and Riv got (in ’90 and ’89, respectively) made them much better-proportioned. My ode to the ’89 Riviera can be read here.

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But! I am of the opinion that the original 1986-88 Toronado was the best of the original 1986 E-bodies. In fact, it was very attractive–purposeful, without the baubles and bangles of the previous version. A nice design. That’s right; I said it: Nice design. So there!

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One last thing: these cars were not as small as they looked. If you’ll notice, our featured Toronado is parked next to a mid-’90s Explorer Limited, and as you can see, the Toro does not appear to be Honda Civic-sized. A 1992 Toronado was 200.3″ long, 72.8″ wide and had a 108″ wheelbase. The 1992 Achieva was 187.9″ long, 67.2″ wide and a 103.4″ wheelbase. So yes, the premium GM coupes of those days were bigger–certainly wider, which nearly always adds to the feeling of spaciousness–important in a luxury car.

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I know I promised a full CC on the TrofΓ©o some time ago. It will indeed be written up, however, as I found a really, really nice one. But until then, let’s drink in the last luxury Oldsmobile coupe: the 1992 Toronado. DS? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But I still love ’em!

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