Junkyard Treasure: 1977 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham


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When the Oldsmobile Toronado debuted for the 1966 model year, it was hailed as a genuinely revolutionary car. Using a compact chain-drive front-wheel-drive system that proved to be extremely reliable, the original Toronado boasted rakish styling and a triple helping of Hugh Hefner-style luxury. The Toronado got less sporty and more squishy in 1971, and this well-over-two-ton monster glided smoothly through most of the 1970s, finally undergoing a ruthless downsizing for 1979. Here’s an example of one of the final land-yacht Toronados, photographed in very nice condition in a Phoenix self-service wrecking yard.



The paint has suffered some thermonuclear damage, but otherwise the car is in great condition. Photo by Murilee Martin


Other than a bit of surface oxidation caused by sun-blasted paint on its upper surfaces, this car is completely rust-free. The interior shows some grime and wear, but nothing very serious. The original owner’s manual sits inside, suggesting that this car may have had just one owner during its 41 years of life.



1977 Oldsmobile Toronado 403 engine

The Toronado went from a 455-cubic-inch V8 engine to a slightly more fuel-efficient 403 in 1977. Photo by Murilee Martin


The early Toronados were reasonably quick, but weight went up and power went down as the 1970s wore on. This car weighed 4,634 pounds and had 185 horsepower from its 403-cubic-inch engine (the same engine that powered the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am), giving it a gloomy 25 pounds per horsepower; not quite as bad as the 27.3 lbs/hp of the notably sluggish 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage, but close. On the plus side, this engine made a respectable 325 lb-ft of torque, so the ’77 Toronado could still fry at least one of its front tires if necessary.



1977 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham rear seats

Who cares about horsepower or miles per gallon when you have this? Photo by Murilee Martin


1977 was a great year for Oldsmobile, with the Cutlass winning the prize for the best-selling car in America for the second straight year. Toronado sales were declining, though, in spite of the lots-of-car-for-the-buck price tag; a new ’77 Toronado Brougham started at $8,133 (just under $35,000 in 2018 dollars). A new Mercedes-Benz 450SLC coupe, which was smaller and less powerful, listed at $27,090 (about $115,000 in inflation-adjusted 2018 bucks) that year.













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