Call it the CC Cohort Effect. We’ve never had a CC of a Toronado of this generation (1971 – 1978). Just last night, as we were leaving Portland after watching the game at my son’s house, I saw one of these pull into a gas station right as I was about to turn into the freeway on ramp. I hesitated a few seconds, and then it was too late. Oh well. But then here’s almost the exact same car, shot and posted at the Cohort by Joseph Dennis, in Chicago.
Only one shot, so it will have to serve as an appetizer, until someone finds one and gets a complete set of shots. Of course what really galls me is that there used to be an XS, with that wild wrap-around rear window sitting forlornly in the weeds on a rural property outside of town. When I started CC, I kept reminding myself to go shoot it. I procrastinated, and when I finally went, it was gone. I’m sure someone came by and made an offer on it. We can live in hope.
The 72 Toronado is one of those cars that can photograph well…from 1 or 2 angles, but in person can look kind of odd. The front end in particular can look very strange with those 2 grilles that I guess are supposed to echo the tail lights.
It doesn’t help that the hood and trunk lid LOOK equal length and the “cabin” appears to be 1/3 the length of the car.
Looks like a car design that probably looked better before it was “refined” for greater customer appeal.
Oldsmobile was obviously trying for the “Cord look” with a pointed, center hood section that met the front bumper without any grille. The grilles were located under the headlights, which is certainly different, but not necessarily attractive.
I’ve never seen a Toronado with the wraparound rear window before. In fact, I haven’t seen a Toro of that generation in quite a long time…though there’s a nice first generation one a few blocks from us.
I like how Oldsmobile pioneered the third (and Fourth) brake light. I love the large glass on the later model black car. I bet that glass costs a pretty penny!!
despite it looking similar to a 1969-70 Cadillac Eldorado I always thought this car looks a lot better than the Cadillac Eldorado of the same vintage.
Agreed. Similar elegant lines yet more lithe and graceful. The interiors were quite handsome as well. I’d be proud to own one.
I kinda like that huge backlight but I bet it gets mighty warm in there in The Mojave Desert….
Wow, that late generation XS side window treatment is one sorta goofy looking ’70s greenhouse design I just can’t abide by.
The XS is probably my leading candidate for car most ruined by Federal bumpers and general abuse caused by being on the market waaaaaay past its sell by date.
The could make a ’70s disaster movie out of what happened to the Toronado.
Why does the Toronado have a lower and upper pair of brake lights? The wrap around rear window is quite cool indeed.
If I remember correctly, those upper lights were only turn signals, not brake lights. So GM doesn’t get credit for inventing the CHMSL (or they didn’t invent it in 1971, at least).
But they were there to give the Toro it’s own special visual signature, sort of like the progressive turn signals on the Cougar. In that respect, I think they were very successful.
My uncle had a ’75 or ’76 Toronado. I remember as a child being very impressed by the upper turn signals. I also remember having a very difficult time opening and closing the giant, heavy doors. I don’t think there’s anything comparable today to the heft of the doors on big personal luxury coupes of that era.
According to the brochure for the 1972 Toronado, the upper set of lights served as both brake lights and turn signals. The worked in conjunction with the “regular” taillights.
One of my least favourite GM models from the Seventies. The Herman Munster of automobiles.
Of the two I actually prefer the XS by far, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea but at least it’s distinctive. The 72 is just so cookie cutter looking, no imagination whatsoever was used in designing the 71s, it’s just a hodgepog of the least interesting styling details in GM’s drawing book at the time, the antithesis of the 66. The rear bumper/taillights for example looks like they were taken right off a 69 GTO with a few extra wrinkles thrown in.
I wonder how much that rear window costs, if it is even available. I wasn’t really crazy about these cars, but the only thing I really didn’t like about them was the FWD. I still can’t figure out why someone would want to drive a car from the wrong end.
As far as the Toronado and Eldorado go, that’s a fair point. It wasn’t like personal luxury car buyers cared about having a flat floor or better snow traction. Had Olds offered the UPP in a Vista Cruiser, it would have made more sense. (The only reason FWD ended up in the E-bodies was that GM figured that was the only class where buyers would willingly absorb the cost.)
An Olds Toronado Vista Cruiser would be an interesting car, with the interior configuration & storage possibilities! Kind of like this one…
I think a UPP Vista Cruiser would probably have been like the original Jeep Wagoneer: appealing to a relatively small niche market of quite affluent buyers who would probably have been very loyal because there just wouldn’t have been anything else like it on the market. In that sense, it was probably a missed opportunity.
They’re probably made of unobtanium. The rear window for the Impala/Caprice coupe of that vintage is hard enough to find, and they sold in vastly greater numbers than the XS.
The availability (or unavailability) of replacement glass is responsible for sending many otherwise serviceable CCs to their graves, I suspect.
I talked to an Opel GT owner at a car show one time and asked about replacement parts. He said finding parts for wear items wasn’t too difficult, but if you broke the windshield, be prepared to get rid of the car, because a windshield would cost more than the whole rest of the car is worth.
Maybe one day soon someone will figure out how to 3-d print glass.
I always worried about that when I had my 1958 Plymouth convertible with its compound-curved windshield that was used on hardtops and convertibles only.
After the stellar 1966-67 Toronado styling, all subsequent models were a letdown, this one in particular. All I could see when these appeared in 1971 was a badly watered-down 1967-70 Eldorado, styled to appeal to a mid-market customer who, even if they could afford an Eldorado were uncomfortable with distilled essences of Cadillac styling in its purest form.
I think it was more aimed at customers who aspired to but couldn’t afford an Eldorado. The Eldorado was very expensive (most of them were fully optioned and seldom discounted) and its depreciation was quite gentle, so even a nearly new example was still not going to be cheap.
The more Eldorado-like Olds made the Toronado, the better it sold, so apparently that strategy was successful commercially if not aesthetically.
I think the only Toros that looked good after the 66-67s were the final 86-92s. Everything in between indeed looked like a discount Eldorado, which after 79 when the Riviara joined in with FWD, it made the Toronado seem totally invisible.
Yeah, the ’79-’85 Toronado is really anonymous compared to the Riviera and Eldorado. The Riviera has some swagger to it, but the Toro is just sort of there.
It is interesting how subjective automobile styling is. My reaction has always been the opposite. The Eldo is too blocky, the Riv is too curvy, and the Toro is “just right” 🙂
Agreed, and it’s really apparent when a custom Toronado convertible from those years is spotted. To me, the Toronado convertible looks a whole lot better than either the Eldorado or Riviera. I guess there just wasn’t the money for one, sort of like GM decided they had enough to make a convertible version from two of the three cars, and the Oldsmobile lost.
Hell, they even did away with the trunk turn signals, so even that special aspect was gone.
Zounds. Not only have I never seen that style backlight, I’ve never been aware it existed until now. Good old CC! Is it 3 pieces glued together?
Agreed on the sad evolution of the Toro. The ’66 is a landmark, beautiful from any angle, and those artillery wheels were da bomb.
Called “hot wire process”. GM also used it in a more modest way on the big Chevy coupe 1977-1979.
Now here’s a “What If”idea for you: a Toronado with glass all the way around, and a floating roof 🙂
It would look neat, but somehow all I can think is that it would make for some sad, sad days at the body shop. (If you break the glass, you just hand your wallet to the service writer and say, “At least give it a decent burial, will you?”)
It has been a long time since I’ve seen a 72 Toronado. I had to Goolge up some images of that year to be reminded of what it looked like inside and out.
Nice lines its unfortunate the car became obese by the mid-seventies.The wrap around rear window just doesn’t do it for me like the window treatment on a late seventies full-size Chevrolet. As nice as the 72 is, I’m still a fan of the first generation Toronado. And while appraising one last summer realized they were not as big as I always perceived them to be.
Here is the front of a ’78 from the Olds Homecoming last summer.
I think the vertical grill ’78 is my least favorite of these. ’74-’76 with the Cord style grill is my pick.
I Like it a lot better in white, but then I think most cars look better in white or some other light color. Dark colors hide the lines (of course in some cases that may not be a bad thing) I wouldn’t buy one of these even if it were a good deal, because of that unavailable back glass. The ’73-’77 Monte Carlo and Grand Prix (which I like a lot better) also used a split rear window.
I haven’t been able to find anything other than a windshield for a ’72 Pinto wagon. It has seven pieces of glass. Glass does seem to be the hardest part to find for old cars that are not considered collectors items, and even then it is ridiculously expensive, because it sells in small volume, plus they know that someone restoring such a car will pay.
A closeup of the wrap around glass on the XS models. Did the Caprice coupes have the defroster grid on the side glass too?
I never realized you could get this with rear defroster on the side glass…that’s cool! Now I’m wondering about the Caprice/Impala coupes. And I just found the answer, right on this site!
Although I wish GM had moved the second generation Toronado in a different direction, I still like the 71s and 72s. But despite the poor-man’s El Dorado vibe, it was a unique package in an era that saw increasing conformity at GM. The details make this car: the strange lower grilles, the angled termination of the fender crease in the front door, the blade-like door handles, the upper deck tail lamps, the color-coordinated pedals (!), and the Brougham that was probably one of the most tasteful renditions of the genre. Sad the car became the poster child for bloat and bling just a couple of years later.
I agree. At first glance these ’71-72s seem very similar to the previous generation Eldorado, but they have a lot of unique details. They tend to get overshadowed by the boattail Rivieras, but I think I actually like the Toro better. I saw an especially nice yellow one at the Riviera Owner’s Association meet a few years ago (Toronados are invited) and it was spectacular. Somehow the color and condition really spoke to me. I wanted it! (I brought a 1979 Toro that I no longer own to the event–I loved that car but it had too many problems to keep).
A neighbor had a silver XS with some sort of wild burgundy patterned velour interior. He bought it new, and it was a wild looking beast. It surely stood out from the sea of Cutlasses in our neighborhood. The west side of Cincinnati used to be a place where it was OK to buy the nicest Electra or Olds 98, but tacky to buy a Cadillac, bunch of tight-fisted old Germans, and a Cadillac would have been showing off. There still isn’t a luxury car dealership on the west side of town. Gotta go to the east side, or Northern Kentucky for a new luxury car.
Before now, and referencing the XS photo, I don’t think I ever paid attention to how the shape of the front fenders echoed the sculpting of the rear quarter panels. A cool little detail. I like both the disco-era excess of the aptly-named XS, as well as the cleaner, smoother 1971 – ’72 models.
I spent a lot of time in an Olds showroom in 1972 while Mom was searching for just the right Cutlass. The Toro still carried some cache to a middle-class 13 year old. A couple of years later, I got a ride in one of these. A friend’s mom picked us up from somewhere, and she was driving her father’s bright red 72. I got to sit in the front seat, and was still wowed by the acres of legroom provided by the flat floor.
Did any other GM cars share those pull-out door handles? They operated much like the ones Chrysler used in 1955-56, sort of like a 50s refrigerator. I do not recall them on any other Oldsmobile.
Yes, My Uncle had a 77 Toronado, he traded a 72 Buick Riviera for it. They both had those door handles…really nice cars. Like you, I liked those flat floors, especially those huge accelerators. Made me want to “Floor it”…hehe..
I’ve always had mixed feelings on this generation of Toronado. On the one hand the details *are* quite nice–the split grilles, upper indicators, etc. on the early cars, the fender sculpturing, wraparound glass, etc. on the later ones. On the other hand, they do seem too “Eldorado lite”, especially the ’74-’76 cars which seem to have neither the cool touches of the older cars nor the interesting points of the final ones.
The ’77-’78 models may have been out of shape and out of date, but I think one of those with the XS rear window would be my pick (though some engine work would be required to “de-malaiseify” it). I don’t like the “tall” grille on those, though, Toronados by this time had developed a trademark of near-grillelessness. Maybe a ’77 with a ’75 front clip?
I am partial to the 1972 Toronado because my folks had one. My parents went in to buy a Cutlass Supreme but bought the Toronado off the showroom floor instead. My Mom’s Toro was the Custom model, gold with a tan top and tan vinyl bench seat. It was a beautiful car, and because in the 70’s most cars were rear wheel drive and SUV’s were all but non-exsistent, the Toro really stood out when it came to bad weather. My sister took it to college one day in a really bad snow storm. Everyone was stuck on the highway but the Toro went through it as if it were a summer day.
Another experience in the Toro happened in 1976. We were taking a day trip to see the tall ships that were in Newport, RI. We were on the Jamestown Bridge, and at the very top of the bridge there was a metal grate that was always somewhat unnerving to ride over. Well, that day the Toro had a CV joint fail at the top of the bridge. The car shook almost uncontrollably and Dad had to slowly get it off the bridge to safety, which he did. It was towed to the local Olds dealer and fixed. We kept the Toro for 3 more years until it was traded for our ’79 Riviera.
The things that stood out about the Toro for me as a kid were the high stop mounted brake lights, the cool dashboard that was cockpit style for the driver, and the front floor being flat due to the front wheel drive layout.
Yes, it was all in the details for this handsome Eldorado clone, but it was something of a blandibarge compared with its spectacular predecessor.
Always a sweat spot in my heart for a Toronado or Eldorado (except ’86 to ’91).
The best was the Olds ’79 to ’85. A friend had one with the diesel engine. Don’t keep it long!!
XS – Never was there a more appropriate name for a car model.
Hmmm… Of course they are nowhere near the early ones for purity of line but I actually don’t mind it. The car for a gentleman living in the north of the US (or anywhere in Canada?) where snow is a bane for 5 months a year. I never drove a Toro but I am told they handle better than their RWD equivalents. Alas, in Europe it would only make sense (other than a w/end toy) with a diesel and 2 more gears – something which could be done but at a price. Here’s one from up front; an Austrian registered car taken at a US car meeting last summer.
… and another view…
has one he converted to rear wheel drive and put in a 572 ci engine.
Paul, I posted pics of a ’72 Toronado on the Cohort quite some time ago. I doubt it’s still where it was, but it was in Pasadena, CA at that time and I think it might have been for sale. I seem to be having trouble finding the whole set in its place in the cohort but here is a link to one of the photos.