Oldsmobile Toronado

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The Toronado was a two-door coupe produced by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors from 1966 to 1992. The name "Toronado" has no meaning, and was originally invented for a 1963 Chevrolet show car. Conceived as Oldsmobile's full-size personal luxury car and competing directly with the Ford Thunderbird and Buick Riviera, the Toronado is historically significant as the first front-wheel drive automobile produced in the United States since the demise of the Cord in 1937. The Toronado was structurally related to the 1966 rear-wheel-drive Buick Riviera and the following year's Cadillac Eldorado, although each had quite different styling. The Toronado continued to share its E-body platform with the Riviera and Eldorado for most of its 28-year history. Buick Riviera did not switch to front-wheel drive until the 1979 model year. The unusual Toronado powertrain was dubbed the Unitized Power Package (UPP). It was designed to combine an engine and transmission into an engine bay no larger than a conventional rear-wheel drive car. To power the car, Oldsmobile engineers selected a conventional, although performance-boosted, Olds 425 cu in (7.0 L) Super Rocket V8 rated at 385 hp (287 kW) and 475 ft-lb (644 Nm) of torque. It provided an increase of 10 hp (7 kW) over the Starfire 425, and an increase of 20 hp (15 kW) over the standard 425 engine in the Ninety-Eight. The Toronado's intake manifold was unique and was depressed down to allow for engine hood clearance. The Turbo-Hydramatic heavy-duty 3-speed automatic transmission, (or THM400, TH400) came about during development of the Toronado. Called the TH425 in FWD form, the transmission's torque converter was separated from its planetary gearset, with the torque converter driving the gearset through a 2" wide silent chain-drive called Hy-Vo, riding on two 12" sprockets. The Hy-Vo chain drive was developed by GM's Hydra-Matic Division and Morse Chain Division of Borg-Warner. The chains were made from a very strong hardened steel and required no tensioners or idler pulleys because they were pre-stretched on a special machine at the factory. Although the rotation direction of the transmission's gearing had to be reversed, a large number of components were shared with the conventional TH400. Use of the automatic also obviated the need to devise a workable manual-shift linkage; no manual transmission was ever contemplated, as engineers deemed performance to be adequate with the automatic transmission. Drivers faced a highly stylized steering wheel with a double-delta shaped horn ring, which framed the view of an unusual speedometer which consisted of a stationary indicator "needle" and a vertically rotating drum on which the numerals were printed. All other gauges, indicators and controls were grouped within fairly easy reach of the driver. Despite an average test-weight approaching 5,000 lb (2,300 kg), published performance test data shows the 1966 Toronado was capable of accelerating from 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 7.5 seconds, and through the standing 1/4 mile (400 m) in 16.4 seconds @ 93 mph (150 km/h). It was also capable of a maximum speed of 135 mph (217 km/h). Testers found the Toro's handling, despite its noticeable front weight bias and consequent understeer, was not substantially different from other full-size American cars when driven under normal conditions. In fact, many contemporary testers felt that the Toronado was more poised and responsive than other cars, and when pushed to the limits, exhibited superior handling characteristics, although it was essentially incapable of terminal oversteer.

Toronado was on the market from 1986 to 1992. It was even smaller, lost its body-on-frame construction in favor of a unibody platform, and was the first Toronado since 1969 to feature hidden headlights. V8 engines were gone, with the fuel-injected version of the Buick 231 cu in (3.8 L) Buick V6 engine, V6 now the only powerplant available. A good, powerful engine, it was well-suited to this much smaller, lighter car. Oldsmobile attempted to bolster sagging Toronado sales by introducing a sportier model called the Troféo, which boasted standard leather bucket seats, faux dual exhaust, more-aggressive styling, and a stiffer suspension. the Troféo was no longer badged externally as a Toronado. Other changes for the Troféo included new seats and monochromatic paint; both Toro and Troféo benefitted from larger climate control buttons and rear three-point seatbelts. Additionally, power increased with the introduction of the new Buick 3800 LN3 V6 engine. Wire wheelcovers were deleted from the options sheet. Other changes were minor and mainly cosmetic. The 1989 Troféo could be ordered with the Visual Information Center: a dash mounted touch-screen CRT that controlled the vehicle's thermostat and radio and also supplied advanced instrumentation such as a trip computer. The following is a link to pictures of various CRT screens. The VIC could also serve as the interface to an in-car hands-free cell phone. Troféo also received standard anti-lock brakes and a new steering wheel that featured buttons for radio and climate controls. Toronados now had standard bucket seats with console, although the split-bench seat was still offered as an option 1990 saw Oldsmobile literally and figuratively going to great lengths to revive Toronado and Troféo sales. The hood was the only carryover piece of exterior sheetmetal as Olds designers completely redesigned the body, particularly in the rear, increasing the overall length by about 1-foot (0 m). While the redesign did not increase passenger space, it did answer criticism of the car's trunk space. Toronado/Troféo owners could easily carry enough luggage for a long vacation or four golf bags with room to spare. On the safety front, for the first time since 1976, an airbag was installed, this time for the driver only, and it was standard equipment; it was fitted in a new steering wheel shared by both models. The new steering wheel framed the driver's view of new analog gauges and information center, as well. The bulky owner's manual for the '90 Toro and Troféo had more room, as well, thanks to a larger glovebox. Unfortunately, the new look did not help stem the tide of sagging sales. Even so, Olds was not ready to throw in the towel just yet. The 1991 models added a couple of new features at no extra cost: previously optional remote keyless entry and anti-lock brakes were made standard across the board. The engine got another small horsepower bump. Troféos got a new interior choice over the standard leather upholstery — Ultrasuede — which must have sold poorly, as it is extremely rare today. The moonroof option no longer required bucket seats to be ordered. The '92 models debuted with a new old option: wire wheelcover fans could indulge themselves on Toronados for the first time since 1987. Troféos got a stiffer standard suspension. Although the Toronado and Troféo were, by this time, as good as GM's designers and engineers could make them, buyers were not buying. The fuel economy was bad; the SUV craze was in its infancy; and coupes were simply no longer the "in" thing to own. Oldsmobile management realized this, and decided to cancel the Toronado and Troféo at the end of the 1992 model year. They were replaced in the lineup by the Aurora which debuted in early 1994 as a 1995 model.

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