For Toronado’s third year, the taillights were repositioned and fashioned into the bumper, and it received a substantially reworked front end. While the 1968’s grille might seem Pontiac-esque, Oldsmobile, for at least a few years, too had been using variations of split grille themes and, incidentally, would continue to do so until their demise. On the other hand, Pontiac adopted the theme as far back as 1959.

1968 Oldsmobile Toronado

1968 Oldsmobile Toronado

In any event, did you happen to wonder where Toronado’s headlights were hidden for 1968? They are stashed behind the grilles. When the lights are switched on, the two grille panels slowly flip up and out of sight, revealing four tightly packed headlights. (If you would like to see a demonstration, this link will open an unaffiliated YouTube video in a new browser window.)

For 1969, Oldsmobile turned their attention to Toronado’s rear which abandoned the slope and scallop for a more conventional boxed treatment. While losing some distinction, the changes were well integrated and it was still an exceptional design.

1969 Oldsmobile Toronado

1969 Oldsmobile Toronado

For the 1970 model, styling moved even farther from the original. The fender wells were squared and their flares de-emphasized, and the front was reworked—again. Remember, we’re still talking first-generation Toronados here but, in passing, the connection might be missed.

1970 Oldsmobile Toronado

1970 Oldsmobile Toronado

With jewelry-like trim, the 1970 front was capped by two razor-tipped fenders while the nestled headlights lost their covers. I think it remained remarkably attractive, from any angle, but for entirely different reasons than its forebearers.

1970 Oldsmobile Toronado

1970 Oldsmobile Toronado

Then, for 1971, the second generation was introduced when the Eldorado, Riviera and Toronado were completely redesigned. (Incidentally, the Riviera again played rebel and, incredibly, remained RWD.) In that process, the E-bodies saw increases in all dimensions and weight. The extra girth and move towards luxury dispelled any sense of sport but that’s not to say Toronado didn’t wear it well.

The new car was marketed as “The Unmistakable One.” Perhaps a bit optimistic, although, there were some truly unmistakable features.

1971 Oldsmobile Toronado

1971 Oldsmobile Toronado

Up front it appeared grille-less but twin intakes were actually recessed into the bumper, beneath the headlights. Air was also channeled from under the bumper.

Pedantic but purely Oldsmobile, the taillights included high-mounted counterparts, prophetically foretelling the center-high-mounted-stop-light (CHMSL or third brake light) requirement implemented in the U.S., 15 years later. The redundant units worked in conjunction with braking but, unlike CHMSLs, also repeated the turn signals; however, they were not parking lights. On the topic of braking, this new generation Toronado offered the “True-Track Braking System” which meant electronically-controlled anti-lock brakes for the rear. Yeah, in 1971.

1971 Oldsmobile Toronado

1971 Oldsmobile Toronado

Stylistically speaking, the Toronado took a breather for 1972.

The big news for 1973 was front and rear chromed girders. That’s a reference to the cynical bumpers on most American cars of the 1970s. New hydraulic impact absorbers were also fitted that same year in order to meet the federally mandated 5-mph impact standards, however, they were installed only up front. The rear’s absorbers were implemented for 1974, in accordance with the mandate.

1973 Oldsmobile Toronado

1973 Oldsmobile Toronado

Toronado’s rear would see significant change for 1973, including a switch to vertical taillights, not too dissimilar from Cadillac’s Eldorado and, to no fault of Oldsmobile, near verbatim the look of Buick’s Regal for 1976.


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