Nearly 41,000 Toronados were built for 1966, a figure that wouldn’t be topped until 1972.

The Oldsmobile Toronado Chassis

Clever is the word for the Oldsmobile Toronado chassis. Power was supplied by the most potent Rocket V-8 yet, a new 385-horsepower version of a 425-cubic-inch engine introduced for 1965 on the division's full-size models. Equipped with dual exhausts, it was mounted conventionally (i.e., fore/aft) on a stub frame partially welded to the main perimeter chassis. The Toronado engine differed in having a reworked carburetor and intake manifold, necessary to clear the low-profile hood, as well as a reshaped exhaust manifold to make room for the front suspension.

The suspension at both ends was out of the ordinary. At the front were longitudinal torsion bars and a heavy-duty anti-roll bar. A simple beam axle on single leaf springs was used at the rear, along with quad shock absorbers -- one pair mounted vertically, one horizontally -- to keep the back tires firmly planted on the road. Large drum brakes with standard power assist were used all-round, with cooling assisted by large slotted wheels evocative of those on the classic Cord 810/812. Steering was the customary power-assisted recirculating ball, geared at a relatively quick 17.8:1 ratio.

Said Motor Trend magazine: ''The Toronado's a truly outstanding car, and this first model is highly perfected. We think it's destined to become a classic in its own time." Considering the new mechanical layout, the 1966 met with a very warm reception.

Of course, the Toronado's most unusual aspect was that driveline. The standard and only available transmission was a special split version of the famed Hydra-Matic, with the torque converter directly behind the engine and the gearbox mounted remotely under the left-side cylinder bank. Connecting them was a two-inch multiple-link chain, and differential torque was split evenly between the half shafts. This arrangement produced surprisingly balanced weight distribution for a big front-driver -- 54/46 percent front/rear -- and contributed greatly to the car's over-the-road prowess.

On the next page, learn about the early years of the Oldsmobile Toronado.

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