Automotive Mileposts  

1970 Oldsmobile Toronado
Interior Trim

STANDARD INTERIOR

All-Vinyl Bench Seat
10 Black
17 Ivory

CUSTOM INTERIOR TRIM

Madrid-Grain Morocceen Strato Bench Seat
57 Ivory
59 Saddle

Madrid-Grain Morocceen Strato Bucket Seats
30 Black
37 Ivory

Osborne Cloth and Madrid-Grain Morocceen Strato Bench Seat
60 Black
62 Green
63 Blue
64 Gold

Osborne Cloth and Madrid-Grain Morocceen Strato Bucket Seats
70 Black
79 Saddle

VINYL ROOF

ROOF CODE/VINYL COLOR
A White
B Black
C Blue
D Gold
F Brown
G Green

CUSTOM INTERIOR

Image: 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado Custom interior

Above: Optional Custom interior with Strato Bench Seat upholstered in Black Osborne Cloth and Madrid-Grain Morocceen Vinyl (trim code 60). Note door trim panel details, with Burl-Grain insert and pull strap. Center armrest folds down for additional comfort on long trips. Strato Bucket Seats were a no-cost option with this interior, and a Sports Console was available as well for an extra $50.56. Just 1,780 Toronados were built in 1970 with the Strato Bucket Seats. Of those, most had the console. (Click image above to view larger version in new window.)

The Luxury of Choice

In the personal luxury car field, image is a big consideration. The fact that you went out and purchased a Toronado instead of a more typical luxury car like a Cadillac Sedan deVille, Buick Electra 225, or Olds Ninety Eight said a lot about who you were. Part of that image was the ability to choose exactly what you wanted in your new car. Paint color, interior color and material, seating configuration, and equipment. While all of the personal luxury cars offered a high level of standard equipment, they also offered a ton of options to choose from. And all of this is why they were among the most expensive cars on the road.

The luxury of choice was a privilege that came with a price tag. And if the exterior distinctions of a luxury automobile got customers into dealer showrooms, it was often the interior luxuries that motivated them to make a purchase. And being able to get what they wanted was very important.

So we decided to create a chart to see if there was any correlation between the number of interiors offered and sales generated. And what we found was interesting. Since the first 5 years of Toronado history were the motivation for this research, it only covers the period of 1966-1970, and specific models that we believe were competing directly with the Toronado during those years.

We also considered the appearance and amenities of the standard interiors provided in the models compared. We were a bit surprised to discover that the standard Toronado interiors weren't really all that much nicer than the typical Delta 88 interior. Now, a Delta 88 wasn't exactly an entry level vehicle, but it wasn't intended to represent a luxury class vehicle, either. The Oldsmobile Delta 88 was solidly upper middle class, but not really in the same class as the Toronado. If it were, Oldsmobile could have marketed the Delta 88 Royale as a personal luxury car and been done with it.

Some of the luxury features found on the Toronado's competition—and expected of cars in the luxury class—were missing. A front seat center armrest, for instance. And full-length door panel armrests. The seats and panels provided were trimmed very nicely, but they certainly could have been in a Delta 88 Coupe as well. Toronado's competition, with the exception of the Buick Riviera, all provided these amenities as standard items. There's nothing wrong with sharing parts across different makes and models, after all pretty much all of the auto makers did it. But there needs to be a defining line between the "regular" models and the luxury models, such as the Toronado.

In addition to the interior appearance, we wondered if there was a connection between the assortment of colors and materials offered and sales of the vehicle during a given year. While it's not clearly obvious that this is the case, sales did drop in 1967 when the available trims dropped from 14 to 13. Not a big change in interior availability, but something was certainly responsible for such a dramatic drop in sales. Cadillac's new Fleetwood Eldorado debuted in 1967, which no doubt created a lot of interest among GM devotees, but was that alone enough to cause an almost 50% decline?

The two years that seem to be the most telling are perhaps 1969 and 1970. In 1969, a mere 3 colors were offered on the standard interiors. For 1970, it was even worse...just 2 colors were offered. The standard all-vinyl interiors came in black, gold, and parchment (white) for 1969, and in black or ivory (white) for 1970.

Meanwhile, across town at Ford dealers, Thunderbird customers could choose from 5 standard interior colors in 1969: black, dark blue, dark red, nugget gold, and white, and 4 colors in 1970: black, dark blue, dark green, and white. And all of those standard interiors featured fold-down center front seat armrests, full-length door panel armrests, full instrumentation, AM pushbutton radios, and an overall more upscale appearance than that of a Ford LTD interior, so one wonders what Oldsmobile was thinking when it came to the base Toronado interior. The Thunderbird was usually the top seller in the personal luxury field, so it seems it would have been the one to watch for ideas.

We realize that it costs money to offer more colors and materials, and perhaps this was Oldsmobile Division's way of encouraging customers to step up to the Custom interiors, with their more luxurious appointments and expanded assortment of colors. It is a fact that the Toronado Custom interiors were every bit as luxurious as those found in any of its competitors, with the exception of the availability of genuine leather, which was available as an option on all of the others with the exception of the Buick Riviera. In fact most Toronados sold during this period were equipped with the optional interiors, so we wonder if the availability of a base interior may have had an impact on sales. For instance, if the Toronado on display in a dealer showroom had the base interior, it could have been viewed by prospective buyers as not as nice as the interior they just saw down the street at the Cadillac dealer.

It's a fact that Buick sold a lot more Rivieras during 1966-1970 than Oldsmobile did Toronados. Was the Riviera a better car? Did it have slicker ad campaigns? Better dealers? More effective overall marketing? Who knows for certain, but the Riviera offered 13 more interiors than the Toronado during this time. Coincidence? Perhaps, and while some would say Olds was focusing more on performance during this time, Riviera did offer a GS version that was pretty hot, and later on a Stage One engine option was made available, as well as Max-Trac, a computerized traction control system, so Buick was hardly ignoring the performance angle for the Riviera.

More luxurious interiors would be in the Toronado's future, which no doubt helped it to compete in a very competitive environment. Oldsmobile once said that Toronado wasn't the car for every driver on the block. And perhaps that's part of Toronado's magic. Only the special few truly understand and appreciate it.

Toronado for 1970: One of the great road cars of all time.

Image: 1970 Toronado flat floor

Toronado's flat floors provided impressive room for front and rear passengers. With bench seats, six passengers and their luggage could travel in spacious comfort. (The trunk is larger, too, since there's no rear differential to take up room.)

1966-1970 PERSONAL LUXURY CAR INTERIOR TRIM COMPARISON
TOTAL PRODUCTION | NUMBER OF INTERIOR TRIM OPTIONS
TORONADO RIVIERA ELDORADO THUNDERBIRD MARK III
1966 40,963 | 14 45,348 | 17 -- 69,176 | 36 --
1967 21,790 | 13 42,799 | 14 17,930 | 16 77,956 | 25 --
1968 26,454 | 15 49,284 | 14 24,528 | 20 64,931 | 18 --
1969 28,494 |   9 52,872 | 15 23,333 | 18 49,272 | 22 30,858 | 15
1970 25,433 | 12 37,366 | 16 23,842 | 16 50,364 | 22 21,432 | 16
TOTAL 143,134 | 63 227,669 | 76 89,633 | 70 311,699 | 123 52,290 | 31

Note: We decided to not include a few makes and models that some may consider worthy of inclusion. We determined that the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Pontiac Grand Prix, Mercury Marauder, and Chrysler 300 really were not built or marketed to compete with the cars listed above. While they are all more personal in nature than other models, and offer some luxury features that put them above other cars, they do not compete in the same price class, nor were they widely considered to be personal luxury cars, despite some automotive magazines of the time comparing them to the cars included in our research.

We did not include the traditional luxury models such as the Cadillac Fleetwood and DeVille's, Lincoln Continental, Imperial, Ninety Eight, Electra 225, or Chrysler New Yorker because in most cases those cars weren't considered by the typical personal luxury car buyer. No doubt the Toronado lost a few sales to a Ninety Eight Coupe, but we believe that was the exception more than the rule.

Image: 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado