JULY 2015: A 1966 OLDSMOBILE TORONADO COMES HOME FOR GOOD THIS TIME

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One of the coolest cars to ever come out of the Sensational Sixties was the 1966 Olds Toronado.

 

The General invented the stylish name (Toronado) for their new car and they ran with an updated design on an older concept: front wheel drive.

 

Detroit had little interest in front wheel drive cars during the 60s.

 

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Front wheel drive was a European concept for small engines and compact cars in the eyes of the Big Three, until Oldsmobile changed the game in 1966. The brand new Olds Toronado was a fire-breathing front wheel drive monster with a 425 cubic inch beast of a motor under its massive hood. I was a young kid when the Toronado made its debut in the fall of ’65 and it was love at first sight for me.

 

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That’s why I bought the scale model and even took the right amount of time to complete the plastic car with a standard well beyond the haphazard builds usually produced my limited kid patience. That was as close as I ever came to Toronado ownership, but one family (Weidner) fell in love with a real Toronado in ’66.

 

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Bob Weidner is the current owner of a 1966 Toronado that his father drove back from the factory to their home in western Canada. They owned a GM dealership and Bob’s dad Lou was a serious car guy who loved the first-gen Toronado.

 

Lou was a big fan of the late 1930s Cord at an earlier point in his life, largely because of its innovative front wheel drive and hideaway headlights, along with its trail-blazing engineering. The 1966 Toronado shared these features with the Cord, so Lou was an instant fan of the front wheel drive ‘66 Olds.

 

But he was in the car-selling business and the Toronado was eventually sold to a customer who later traded it back to the family dealership for a new car. That was the exact moment when the Toronado moved directly from the used car lot to the family automobile collection and began a pampered life of semi-retirement.

 

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Lou was not willing to let the Toronado slip away from him for a second time. The car was repainted and has been maintained at a high level ever since it returned to the Weidner family. Bob is a second generation car guy who shares his late father’s interest in the hobby and values its strong connection to his family.

 

The Toronado looks like it just left the showroom and even has its original spare tire, with its unique double whitewall design. One of its more unique features is its speedometer because the needle stands still and a barrel with the speed numbers moves behind it.

 

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Another even more unique feature is the Toronado’s chain drive off its tranny to deliver power to its front wheels.

 

Rear passengers have access to a rear door latch that will open the front door on the sporty two door Toronado because this car was considered to be a luxury sports sedan back in ’66.

 

Those of us who read the 1966 Toronado story about its Pike’s Peak race will vouch for the sporty side of this car.

 

These days Bob just enjoys his time behind the wheel of the family heirloom. He said the car drives smoothly down the road and the power steering is light to the touch, even with all that weight and front wheel torque.

 

We at MSCC love these kind of stories where the one that got away came back and stayed this time.

 

Jim Sutherland

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