The 1976 Oldsmobile Toronado mostly maintained the status quo. Newly available as an option was a semiautomatic leveling system that let drivers set the rear shock absorbers to handle normal, medium, or heavy-duty loads from a dial on the instrument panel.
Meanwhile, the air bag option, a pricey item available on certain Oldsmobiles, Buicks, and Cadillacs, put in its last appearance due to lack of interest -- for the time being. Broughams with cloth seats sported a new "loose cushion" look. With the auto industry starting to climb out of the cellar this year, Toro production rose, if only slightly.
Velour upholstery with a "loose cushion" look was
featured in the 1976 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham.
It turned out that 1977 was as wild for the Toronado as '76 had been tame. There was revised styling, a new engine, and a new model -- plus one that didn't quite get off the ground. With the Custom dropped, the model range began with the Brougham, the starting price of which had by now inflated to $8134. A good $2500 more fetched a dramatic new XS coupe with a massive panoramic backlight and a tinted-glass power sunroof. Using hot-bent-wire technology to form sharp corners in the glass, the rear window wrapped from B-pillar to B-pillar.
Olds came close to offering an XS with a distinctive twist. Dubbed the XSR, it would have featured reflective-glass T-top panels. Unlike other such panels that were just coming into vogue, these were to slide inboard at the touch of a button, nesting one over the other beneath a central roof section. A prototype was commissioned and the XSR even appeared in an Oldsmobile catalog, but the top mechanism was ultimately deemed too troublesome to produce.
Frontal styling featured a larger central grille with a Cadillac-style eggcrate design, new bumper, and turn-signal lamps mounted beneath the headlamps. Standard cornering and side-marker lights were moved to the fender sides, and the leading edge of the front fenders now held small light-up Toronado emblems.
With Ninety-Eights and Delta 88s newly downsized for '77, the Toro became the largest Oldsmobile. The 455 V-8, in use since 1968, was jettisoned in favor of a new 403-cid Rocket V-8 with electronic spark timing for improved fuel economy. In Toronados, the engine developed 200 bhp at 3600 rpm and 330 pound-feet of torque at 2400 rpm. Four-Season air conditioning was now standard equipment, and an AM/FM stereo with a built-in citizens band radio joined the options list.
Though still third in the sales race, Oldsmobile reached a milestone in '77: its first 1-million-car model year. The midsize Cutlass, America's best-selling nameplate, accounted for more than half of the year's output, but the Toronado helped out a bit. Production was up by almost 10,000 cars to 34,085, the big coupe's best showing in four years.
Changes to the 1978 Toronado were few. There was a handsome new vertical-bar grille and an AM/FM stereo radio was now standard equipment. A slight cut in engine compression shaded horsepower back to 190 and torque to 325 pound-feet. Optional leather inserts used on the seating surfaces were introduced in a choice of carmine, black, or camel.
Despite the virtual sameness, base prices shot up -- by nearly $1000 on the XS. Meanwhile, demand was down by more than 9000 units in what would be the final year for the big Toro. Its turn for downsizing had come and an all-new Toronado, riding an eight-inch-shorter wheelbase and weighing nearly 1000 pounds less, was about to pull Oldsmobile's personal-luxury coupe into the years of its most consistent success.
Even with eight years' worth of changes to its exterior styling, interior appointments, and drivetrain, there was no mistaking a 1978 Toronado as a member of the second generation of Oldsmobile's front-wheel-drive personal-luxury coupe. As it turned out, '78 would mark the last time the imposing "Toro" would ever be this big.
1971-1978 Oldsmobile Toronado Models, Prices, Production
|hardtop coupe ||4,672||5,457||48,9002|
|Total 1975 Toronado||23,301|
|Total 1976 Toronado||24,304|
|Total 1977 Toronado||34,085|
|Total 1978 Toronado||24,815|
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