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1969 Oldsmobile Toronado in Chestnut Bronze
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1969 Oldsmobile Toronado

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1969 Toronado: The sporting luxury car with front-wheel driveFor 1969, Oldsmobile came up with two different advertising concepts. One took scenes from classic movies, recreated them, then blew them up in black and white to be used as back drops for the ad. Posed in front of the photo was a new Olds in glorious color, along with a rendition of the scene in the still photo. An attractive model usually appeared near the car. It's not really obvious what Oldsmobile was attempting to do with this ad campaign, but it was utilized for virtually every model in the line up, from a Meadow Green Ninety Eight to a Saffron Vista Cruiser Station Wagon. Both of the ads featuring the 1969 Toronado (one of them is shown 4 paragraphs below) placed the car rather unconventionally, with the rear of the car being the focal point. Perhaps this was to emphasize the new rear styling, which was the most noticeable exterior change. The Toronado featured an optional paint color, Nugget Gold, and was also adorned with an optional black vinyl roof.

Dr. OldsmobileThe second ad concept introduced a character named "Dr. Oldsmobile" to the public. Wearing a white lab coat, Dr. Oldsmobile and his fictional assistants named 'Elephant Engine Ernie' (who was the 455 Rocket V-8 engine expert); 'Shifty Sidney' (who could be seen rapidly moving his arm as if shifting gears with a Hurst shifter); 'Wind Tunnel Waldo' with his perpetually slicked-back, wind-blown hair who represented the wind tunnel testing Olds performed on its cars to make them slide through the wind with little resistance; and 'Hy Spy,' another character who kept his ear to the ground so that Dr. Oldsmobile would always know what the competition was cooking up. While the focus of this campaign was the Oldsmobile 4-4-2, it certainly put the Oldsmobile name out front as a muscle car, which tended to rub off on the other models as well.

Sales improved slightly for 1969, to 28,494 cars, which was still lower than Oldsmobile had projected. Concerned that the styling was an issue, bigger changes were slated for 1970, which would be the final year of this body style. Until then, new colors and features would have to do. Three optional paint colors were made available only for the Toronado: Amethyst (code I-01), Caribbean Turquoise (code U-02), and Nugget Gold (code X-03). It was hoped that this would further set apart the Toronado from the rest of the Olds line, and give customers another reason to consider the Toro.

For 1969, Toronado customers could choose from no less than 24 paint colors, and in addition to the 3 exclusive colors mentioned previously, 7 were specific to the Toronado and included Toronado Jade (code 46-0), Autumn Gold (code 77), Powder Blue (code 80), Flamingo Silver (code 81), Covert Beige (code 82), Deauville Gray (code 83), and Chestnut Bronze (code 85). In fact, a special brochure was prepared for the "Olds Fashion Exclusive Toronado Jade" [image opens in new window] color, emphasizing the "special GT striping"!

The optional vinyl roof could be ordered in Parchment, Black, Dark Blue, Dark Fawn, Dark Green, or Dark Maroon, and 5 striping colors were offered in Black (code A), White (code C), Blue (code E), Gold (code G), or Red (code R). This opened up a huge color spectrum of possibilities, and made the 1969 Toronado one of the most colorful cars of the year.

1969 Oldsmobile Toronado in Nugget Gold with black vinyl roof (rear view)Exterior styling changes were few, and were mostly relegated to the back of the car. The 1969 grille carried a cross-hatch pattern, and was still hinged to retract upward to expose the headlamps. The Rocket emblem moved to the driver's side grille to join the Toronado script that had been placed there previously.

From the side, steps were taken to lose the fastback appearance, to some degree. Toronados equipped with the optional vinyl roof no longer included the halo paint feature, and the moldings used to outline the top were squared off for 1969. The tips of the rear quarter panels were now squared off, which changed the appearance from the side as well as from the rear. The fastback was indeed gone.

The back up lights moved into the center section of the tail lamps for 1969, which cleaned up the looks of the new rear bumper a bit. The overall look was longer, less sporty, and more formal, which is apparently what Oldsmobile had decided its customers really wanted.

New options for 1969 included a Deluxe Steering Wheel with Instant Horn (rim blow), where the horn could be sounded by merely squeezing the rim of the steering wheel. At $15.80, it was a bargain. The Electric Defogging Rear Window was just $47.39, and was a pretty popular option very much appreciated by folks who lived in the colder sections of the country. A rarely ordered option, the W-34 400 Horsepower Rocket V-8 Engine with high lift cam and dual exhaust system was just $47.39, but wasn't a terribly popular option for some reason.

Inside the 1969 Toronado, a new pattern appeared on the seats, with pleats and an upper seat back embroidered section that was duplicated on the door panels. Customers could choose from a combination of cloth and vinyl or all vinyl, as before, all color keyed to harmonize with the exterior finish and optional vinyl roof, if so equipped.

Priced at $4,836 in base form, the Toronado was just $86 more than last year. Of the total sold, 3,421 were in standard form and 25,073 were the Custom version, which cost $173.78 more, which was the same amount charged in 1968 for the Custom option. The 1969 models were introduced on September 12, 1968.

Motor Trend Magazine wrote an article titled Luxury With a Flair for its February 1969 edition. In it, Motor Trend compared the 1969 Ford Thunderbird, Mercury Marauder X-100, Buick Riviera, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Oldsmobile Toronado head to head in a comparison of driving ease, performance, handling, styling, and overall luxury. The Thunderbird was the overall winner, but the Toronado got high marks for riding comfort and handling, which the magazine described as superlative, and the writers noted the optional pale grape-colored paint, which attracted many compliments.


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