Guest Post: 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado Design History, Part 2
[Mike’s introduction: Okay, here is the conclusion of Mr. Ruzzin’s fascinating first-hand account of the history behind the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado’s stunning design. He was Junior Creative Designer in Oldsmobile Studio at the time.
If you have not yet read the first part of this story, I’d recommend doing so, here: Guest Post: 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado Design History, Part 1.
General Motors has generously provided me with several pictures to compliment Mr. Ruzzin’s text (each post has a unique set). In some of this post’s shots, there are interesting details in the background that I have zoomed in on and shared full size.
One of the most intriguing pictures is unfortunately double exposed but was still good enough to share, and another one of the clays doesn’t look like a Toronado to me but I’ll let Mr. Ruzzin chime in and have the final word on that. I haven’t shared these particular photos with him but he told me he’s in one of the shots that’s out there.
So now, I’ll stop typing and turn this over to Mr. Ruzzin…]
Evolution of the design
The greatest design credit should be given to Don Logerquist, the designer who originated the theme that the red rendering and the car was developed from. The sketch was made during our efforts to develop an alternate design for the 1965 Oldsmobile B car that was underway as a full sized clay model.
Chuck Jordan was excited about the design that was being put on the alternate side of the B clay and he brought Irv Rybicki in for an opinion as he had been chief of Olds before Stan Wilen. He called it a design that could be used in the near future on a “special car” for Oldsmobile.
Shortly after that the red rendering was started, worked on by Dave North, Don Logerquist and Stan as advisor. Dave did most of the layout and rendering and Don helped develop the look of the surfaces.
I saw Irv use this technique later when I was Chief of Chevrolet #2, he started watching for design solutions as soon as he knew a new program was coming, even before anyone else knew it.
It is true that Dave North did the rendering with some of Don’s help. Stan was the one who inspired the front end, a thin long slot like the Firebird 3, and I eventually did the rear, a derivative of the Ferrari GT race car called the Bread Van, tailpipes and all. Stan helped with the tailamps, coordinating them with the front grille, asking me to keep them low, above the bumper and as wide as possible.
Very important: if you look at the red rendering compared to the final car you will see that it is very different.
A simple harmonic solution, the design was and had to be in sharp contrast to the rear designs on the Riviera and Eldorado.
The final lower bodyside was an attempt to create a “frame” look which Bill Mitchell was enthralled with at the time (see the 1964 Pontiac Tempest/GTO). It worked very well to give the car the look of a low center of gravity and a line to connect the two wheel shapes. This was a contribution by Stan who watched and balanced the design as it went.
Bill Mitchell changed the design from the red rendering after the clay model came back to Oldsmobile Studio from Advanced Design #3. He connected the line on the roof to the tail-end of the car to create a side plane carrying the large wheel oriented shapes, front and rear.
This was a brilliant move that took the design to another level making it more unique than ever. It connected the quarter line on the Toronado to the roof panel that we had to share with the Riviera.
Advanced Design #3
We were asked to send all of our primary sketches and board drawings to Advanced #3 to start the program as we could not do it because of other pressing work. Chuck Jordan also wanted to register the design in comparison to the coming Riviera and Eldorado that were not as far along.
When it came back as an incomplete full-size clay model we started in earnest to complete the design for production. There was a lot of work to do. Although they had started to develop the side of the car, the front and rear were far from being unique and strong enough. We created a new larger model to match the program as well as a completely new front and rear.
At the time the Toronado was designed there was a great deal of enthusiasm generated by Bill Mitchell for wheel oriented design solutions. A large, volume of work was being done in the Design building around this theme and outside there were a large number of themes that were being used on race cars around the world. The combination of elements that made up the Toronado design were completely originated and assembled in Oldsmobile Studio under Stan Wilen.
The enthusiasm generated for the design was a result of its unique individual elements and its design solution in total that was so fresh. There is no doubt that there may have been some design elements that through previous years were similar to the final solution in some ways. Neither myself, Frank Munoz, Dave North or Stan Wilen ever discussed any work that had been done elsewhere in the building in reference to the developing Toronado design.
I did see in Chuck Jordan’s office once a small idealistic theme model in silver that had a clean monocoque side with wheel protrusions, but not the
same theme that we developed in Oldsmobile Studio. GM Design was a design generating machine; you could say that everything had an effect on everything else.
Continue to the photo gallery on page 2, below.
[I’d like to thank Mr. Ruzzin for providing me with this material to share with my readers and the General Motors Heritage Center (specifically John) for the pictures and frequently exceeding my expectations.
Mr. Ruzzin’s professional experience includes over 140 car design projects as creative designer, studio head and Director of Design. Apart form GMC he’s worked for every GM brand, including Opel, Vauxhall, Holden, GM du Brazil, Toyota, Isuzu, Suzuki, SAAB, Lotus and BITTER. Since retirement, he has continued as a design educational consultant in China and Taiwan, as well as for GM Design.
If you enjoyed this, Mr. Ruzzin has written other posts on Autos of Interest:
Be sure to visit the photo gallery since there are many more pictures not shown above or in the first part.]