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1968 Oldsmobile Toronado
Oldsmobile's contribution to the performing arts

1968 Oldsmobile Toronado

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1968 Toronado: The one-of-a-kind car in a carbon-copy world

By 1968, high performance and the youth movement were a powerful influence on the automotive industry. This influence was readily evident in marketing of the day, which invited you to "Move up to Chrysler." Buick acknowledged that "Now we're talking your language," and Ford said it had "...better ideas." It was all about the "Wide Track Pontiac," "And the beat goes on" over at Plymouth. This was the era of the muscle car, and that worked out just fine for Oldsmobile, which was looking for something to rev up sales for the 1968 Toronado.

Despite an award winning year in 1966, sales fell off sharply for 1967—in fact, they dropped by almost half! Not pleased with this sales performance, Oldsmobile Division made big changes to the Toronado for 1968. They started off with a fairly major face lift, focusing mostly on the front and rear of the car. Up front, the sloping front panel with pop-up headlights was replaced by a massive front bumper and grille arrangement, which gave the Toronado the appearance of a real brute. The headlights remained concealed, but now the honeycomb-textured grille panels rose up to expose the lamps. A Toronado script appeared on the driver's side grille panel. Combination front turn and side marker/cornering lamps wrapped around the edges of the front fenders, framed by the bumper. Massive air intake openings were cut under the bumper for engine cooling. The grille was divided in half vertically by the bumper, in keeping with Olds' current styling theme, and a Rocket emblem was mounted at center.

The view from behind was also much changed, with the tail lamps becoming smaller and integrated into the bumper. A Toronado script appeared on the rear panel above the bumper on the right side.

In profile, Toronados with the optional vinyl roof received the paint halo treatment that was also introduced on other GM cars as well. This allowed the body paint color to remain exposed in areas about the roof rail and windshield by moving the vinyl roof molding away from the chrome trim to expose the painted metal in these areas. This was especially attractive on the 1968 Toronado, as not everyone was thrilled with the appearance of the '67 Toros when fitted with a vinyl top. Mounted on the front fenders between the wheel well openings and door were Toronado scripts.

1968 Oldsmobile Toronado left front quarter viewOther changes included the addition of front and rear side marker lights with the rear lights cleverly concealed by an Oldsmobile Rocket emblem, and concealed windshield wipers that hid under the rear edge of the hood. Inside, the lower section of the instrument panel was updated with simulated woodgrain to replace the metallic panels previously used in this area, and additional padding was added to the panel itself to meet new safety regulations.

Mechanically, the suspension was once again modified for an even softer ride, as many of the Toronado's competitors were more softly sprung, and Oldsmobile wanted to come as close as possible to their soft ride without sacrificing handling characteristics. A new engine made its first appearance in 1968. The massive 455 Rocket V-8 became standard equipment and was rated at 375 horsepower. A new performance option was first offered for the Toronado in 1968, known as the W-34 option. It included a modified 455 engine with special camshaft, heat-treated valve springs, cold air induction system, modified distributor, and a low restriction dual exhaust system with cut outs in the rear bumper for the exhaust tips. In this form, the Toro was rated at 400 horsepower! A performance transmission that carried an OM code instead of an OJ code was also included. Priced at $190, very few people checked off this option when placing orders, making W-34 equipped Toros very rare today.

In its May 1968 issue, Car Life Magazine road tested a 1968 Toronado equipped with the W-34 option. Top speed was reported as 123 mph. They commented that the car was expensive, but with its combination of high performance, dependable handling, strong masculine styling, front wheel drive, and availability of luxury options it was an "unusual and enjoyable" automobile.

A special vacuum temperature switch opened the headlight doors automatically regardless of headlight use to provide additional cooling air to the radiator should the engine require it. Sales moved up to 26,454 so all the changes must have been noticed by buyers. 3,957 people opted for the Toronado in its standard form at $4,750 a copy, and 22,497 sought the extra luxury features of the Custom model, at $173.78 over the base price.

Rare options to look for on 1968 Toronados include the W-34 option, Comfortron heating and air conditioning, factory stereo tape player, front seat head rests, and front bucket seats with center console.


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