Bill Mitchell’s specter hangs like a well-tailored vapor over my Great 28; after all, his guidance and leadership inspired two of the first four cars on the list. Of course, the vehicles occupying the list after the initial trifecta remain unstratified; however, if there is an actual number four, the original Toronado comes close. I’m not much of an Oldsmobile guy, but the ’66 Toro has rocketed into my vehicular stratosphere.
The Toronado has been covered here and in a million places already, so anything I add is bound to be extraneous, but this is my list and I’m compelled to expound upon the beauty and merits of my beloved Great 28. As I covered last time, I’m more of a Riviera guy, and a Buick guy in general. In many ways, however, the ’66 Toronado is a more impressive visual feat that a Riv, even if it is endowed with a few more odd angles. The rear three-quarter view is one of my favorites. The smooth, flowing quarter panel was not totally original, but it was the primary influence on any number of modern designs.
The posterior may have been less an influence. Modern cars are nearly shoulder high at the trunk, while the Toronado is almost unnaturally low. Typically, a car with a dropped rear end appears saggy and unfinished, but on the Toronado, the motif becomes dramatic, the fastest of fastbacks. The coved rear panel and thin taillights are elegant, almost customized. Straight through chromed tailpipes speak of muscular authority, a 425 cubic-inch V8 providing the lung capacity.
On a related note, I couldn’t care less about the whole front-drive aspect of it. Over time, it proved itself largely reliable, and the notion of a smoky e-brake burnout has entered my mind a time or two, but my main attractions to this car are its styling and its audacious lack of restraint. Of all American cars of the 1960s, other than the Corvair, what car managed to be this far from typical?
And then there’s the Cord influence. If a car must copy another in spirit, why not one of the most gorgeous automotive creations of all time, the Cord 810/812? One can observe the intellectual theft in the neat wheelcovers, which ape the Cord’s unabashedly. Obviously, the grille and driveline are also 810 sendups. On an unrelated note, I must assert that this is one of the most spectacular views of the car, accentuating its outrageous wheel flares and smooth quarters.
If there is one awkward spot in the design, it may be the interface between those flares and the severely angled bodysides. From certain vantage points, the result can be something less than linear, which is probably why some prefer the very elegant (and listworthy) ’66 Riviera.
That matters little to me, all in all, because the Toronado speaks to me; it demands my attention and I comply. It is one of a handful of cars that I’ll rephotograph time and time again, because I can’t walk away. I love it!
Maybe someday I’ll find myself behind the wheel of a spectacular ’66 Toronado, ringing up the miles and watching the cool drum-style speedometer do its thing. Until then, I’ll just have to keep taking pictures.
Not surprisingly, I’ve covered cars five through eight in other articles, including my COAL series. Four of my five cars are on the list (sorry Dirty Dart), so I’ll include links to them.