Skip to main content

Oldsmobile Toronado

Oldsmobile Toronado 1960s American classic car

Of all the cars to have come out of Detroit, the Oldsmobile Toronado must be one of the biggest! This two-ton leviathan hit the road in 1965. The Toronado was the first mass-produced American car to be fitted with front-wheel drive. As a result, it handled better than its rivals. 60% of the Toronado's weight was over the front wheels. Torsion-bar suspension sealed the stability deal, at the front end. Well, that, and two of the tyres Firestone had made especially for the Toronado. They came with stiffer sidewalls - and extra grip. Wheels were slotted - to cool the finned brake drums.

Power was provided by a seven-litre V8. Dubbed the 'Rocket', the engine produced 385bhp - giving a top speed of 130mph. Intricate work went into mating the motor with the 3-speed Hydra-Matic 'box. Rubber insulation was provided. All that sat in a solid, perimeter-framed chassis.

The Toronado was avant-garde in its styling, too. Clean and vibrant lines set it apart. And its headlights' electric flaps were a sweet touch. Alec Issigonis - designer of the BMC 'Mini' - predicted that large engines would never successfully be twinned with front-wheel drive. Historic automobile that it was - the Oldsmobile Toronado proved him wrong!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Chrysler Airflow

The Chrysler Airflow was where Art met Science! The lines of its bodywork were drawn from aerodynamics - at a time when that discipline was a mere glint in a boffin's eye! Certainly, it was far from being routinely used in automotive design. Indeed, the Airflow was the first production car to feature the fledgling craft. A 'wind tunnel' was duly developed. Even today, such systems are considered arcane ... but, in the early '30s, they were tantamount to a black art! The engineering wizards overseeing the project were Carl Breer, Fred Zeder, and Owen Skelton. Breer was the catalyst ... he had been first to be smitten by the science of aerodynamics. Zeder and Skelton soon followed suit. And it did no harm at all when Orville Wright - father of aviation - was brought on board! More than 50 test cars were built. By means, then, of painstaking refinements, the Chrysler Airflow gradually took shape.But the Airflow was not just about aerodynamics. 'Weight lo…

NSU Ro80

The styling of the NSU Ro80 was ahead of its time. At first glance, masses of glass were straight out of science-fiction. Closer inspection revealed the gently rising line of its profile - giving it a low front, high back stance - which would influence automotive design for years to come. The 5-seater body was supremely aerodynamic for a saloon car - making cruising at speed a breeze. So flawless was it outwardly that it was hardly touched in ten years of production. Just the tail-lights were modified, on later versions.The Ro80's handling was equally impressive. FWD - and precision power-steering - kept it perfectly pointed. The long-travel strut suspension soaked up bumps. High-efficiency disc brakes were fitted all round. The 3-speed semi-automatic transmission swept through the gears with aplomb. Top speed was a sound 112mph.But, of course, nothing is perfect. The Ro80 was powered by a twin-rotor Wankel engine. Unfortunately - in a rush to get the car into showroom…

FN Four

In terms of breakthroughs in the history of motorcycling, there cannot be many to rival the first in-line four engine. Belgium was the birthplace of this landmark layout. FN was the much-to-be-thanked manufacturer.The FN Four first hit the highway in 1911. It produced 4bhp. That, from a 491 cc capacity. At the time, such figures described state-of-the-art technology. Top speed for the FN Four was 40mph. Not bad - for an 8-valve inlet-over-exhaust set-up. Oh, it was air-cooled.The FN Four was light - tipping the scales at 165lb dry. Not only the motor, but the chassis, too, was avant-garde. It featured an early form of telescopic forks. A new-fangled clutch - and 2-speed 'box - only added to the FN Four's slick box of tricks. Solid shaft-drive output the power. Who, then, designed this visionary vintage? You will not hear the name Paul Kelekom shouted from motorcycling's rooftops. But, you should - for it was he who fashioned the FN Four. In so doing, he ki…