Enter the XS, a new optional “treatment” that came equipped with a large sliding sunroof. Besides that, the package came with one other and only one other modification separating it from lesser Toronados.

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XS

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XS

The visual distinction afforded by the XS was its rear window which differed dramatically from that of the standard and Brougham models.

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XS

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XS rear window

Wrap around windows were nothing new on automobiles but never before had single pieces of glass, of automotive thickness, been bent at sharp angles. It turns out that GM had been working with Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) and developed a new method for shaping thick plates of glass. The process they came up with was called “hot bent wire” and opened up all sorts of possibilities.

In fact, you may recall that Oldsmobile was not the only GM division to make use of the technology. Remember Chevrolet’s 1977 Impala and Caprice coupes?

1979 Chevrolet Caprice Landau Coupe

1979 Chevrolet Caprice Landau Coupe

Chevy’s large coupe duo used the “bent” rear windows until the 1980 refresh applied a more formal approach. The Toronado offered the XS until 1978 which was the last year for the second generation. That was the last of the bent glass.

Now, that was all amazing and true, however, the XS treatment was not the motivation behind spotlighting the 1977 Toronado either. There was another.

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR shown in full-size brochure

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR shown in full-size brochure

As a matter of fact, this next treatment was the reason the XS even existed. For 1977, Oldsmobile’s large car brochure included two trim levels for the Toronado but the XS was not one of them. Besides the Brougham, another model was planned and even marketed but ultimately cancelled from production at the eleventh hour.

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype

Keep in mind that, following stricter federal roll-over regulations, Cadillac’s 1976 Eldorado was believed to be and even marketed as the last American convertible (which led some customers to file a, failed, class-action lawsuit). It didn’t take long for open-air alternatives to the drop-top to appear and the XSR’s trick was rather ingenious, albeit slightly gimmicky.

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype

Oldsmobile was apparently busy making friends in the 1970s because for the roof they teamed up with American Sunroof Corporation (ASC). The result was a t-top idea for the Toronado but the twist was they would be electrically operated. Now, since we’re all familiar with how t-tops work, you might be wondering, “How could this be?” That’s the sort-of-gimmicky part, they slid inward and actually stacked one atop the other in the center roof section.

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype

The material I researched indicates there were managerial concerns over costs and complexity, and some reports said the setup leaked like a sieve. Thus, the XSR was canceled at the very last moment and the sunroof-equipped XS took its place, after the brochures had been printed.

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR air brushed

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype (air brushed)

As you can see from these pictures, there were at least two prototypes built, some say more, but specifics beyond that appear to be contested. In fact, it was believed not that long ago that the red car was the only XSR in existence. One thing I did find out is that the Toronado shown in the image above (used for marketing materials, including the brochure) had the tops air brushed in. If you study it, you can tell that the roof bar is off-center. As well, in the water on the ground, the reflection of the car is gold instead of silver.

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype

Oldsmobile was always an innovative brand that had a quiet uniqueness about it. The Toronado wasn’t the first model to break that silence but it was one of the most unique and, possibly, one of the least. The XSR prototype and XS gave the second-generation Toronado a last shot of standing out in a crowd, if not for size alone.

[UPDATE: read of the fate of both XSRs and see exclusive pictures!]


GALLERY


1977 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham
1977 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham1977 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham1977 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham1977 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham

1977 Toronado XS
1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XS1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XS1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XS rwindow gallery

1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR Prototypes
1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR air brushed1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype press pic1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XSR prototype
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