1966 Oldsmobile Toronado
March 30, 2007 2:49 PM
"'66 was the best year… But like most Americans, it got older and fatter."
That's Jay describing his latest vintage acquisition: an original '66 Oldsmobile Toronado. And if possessing the funky Oldsmobile isn't exciting enough, Jay recently had the incredible chance to meet the Toronado's original designer and "dad," David North.
Now retired, North calls his baby a "personality" car and takes credit for the car's unique look: a blend of functionality and cutting-edge design. North recalls a fierce competition between automobile manufacturers at the time of its conception. Fortunately, the Toronado lived up to its makers' high expectations.
A movie star in its own right, the Toronado is famous for being the first high-volume front-wheel drive car produced in the US since 1937. A two-door coupe automobile produced by the Oldsmobile division of General Motors, Toronado introduced style and rock 'n' roll "cool" into the company's contemporary assembly line.
But there's something slightly different with Jay's wheels. That's because, like many longtime Southern Californians, Jay's latest acquisition has had a little work done. The Leno Oldsmobile Toronado, a modern wonder that retains its vintage character, was built at Big Dog Garage under the supervision of Bernard Juchli.
First, experts turned a front wheel wonder into a rear wheel ride. Attracted to the Oldsmobile's vintage aesthetic, Jay added additional contemporary elements. The Toronado may look like a plodder from yesteryear but this one runs on 1,070 Horsepower with 17-inch wheels!
Other features? Jay's stylin' new Toronado can get a max 7000 RPM, a compression ratio of 8.3:1 and an engine that uses a modified aluminum block as well as cylinder heads from the Cadillac CTS-V racing program.
Engineers reconfigured the classic automobile to function as a high-performance street engine. Though many of the car's components aren't currently on sale to the general public, General Motors indicate that they'll all be available in the future. Jay may be acting as test bunny for auto parts but he's the perfect candidate: he plans on utilizing his reworked Toronado as his daily streetcar.
Interior wise, many of the Toronado's features remain relatively the same: the dashboard retains its same retro look, but a few functions have been added to accommodate the car's other add-ons. Seats have been "tweaked" a little, changed to make way for the driveline tunnel, and re-covered in leather to give a more youthful appearance to this true American classic.