I have a 1970 Olds Toronado and I use it as a daily driver. I agree that this is a well built vehicle. I recently drove it from Atlanta to Arizona and back and was impressed with its comfort on such a long trip. There is nothing like looking down the long, long hood and off into the horizon while listening to that incredible rumble. Kick it on a freeway entrance ramp and you're doing 85 mph before you even merge with traffic.
Living in the South, I don't have a chance to drive it much in the snow. While in Flagstaff, AZ I had the chance to see what it would do. I now know why so many people in the snow belt bought these cars before the days of all-wheel SUV's. It has incredible traction with most of the 4500#'s sitting on top of the drive wheels.
I am the writer of this review, and I thought I might as well update a little. I have driven it another 6,000 miles or so, and it is still running just fine.
I replaced the valve cover gaskets and also the tranny pan gasket, along with the fluid and filter. All this really means is a slower accumulation of fluids on the pieces of cardboard on the garage floor, and slower wear on the tranny. The water (or is it vacuum?) pump gasket is leaking also, and that will be a small challenge for an inexperienced mechanic like me.
The radiator is finally starting to show age after 35 years. The bottom few pipes have turned green, but still the only leak is at the very top.
The heater problem was not the flap stuck on cold, but rather a malfunctioning vacuum valve that allows coolant into the heater core. I replaced the valve with a pipe fitting so it is always open, and I'll shell out to get a new valve. When I was at the auto parts store I learned just how many parts this car shares with other Oldsmobiles from that time, which is a very reassuring thing for the owner of such a rare car.
The car was rattling like crazy even when cruising down a smooth road, so I replaced the tires. I had checked the tread on the tires and they were all fine, but I did not know that two of the tires were probably at least 15 years old. There were three different kinds of tires on the car, but luckily all the same size. I got a new set of some decent tires, and still have the original spare in the trunk. I no longer create large clouds of smelly white smoke from the front tires because I do not want to wear them down.
I did a few 0-60 timings with a stopwatch and they came out around 9 seconds. The 8-second figure from before was timed in my head, and it is not accurate. I also found out the car's weight is closer to 4,700 pounds. I looked up the 0-60 for a Toronado and Riviera to see what a difference FWD makes, and they are nearly identical. For those of you that don't know, the Riviera was essentially a cheaper, RWD Toronado. I found out my car cost about $5316 when new, which is more than the $4900 for a Dodge Daytona Charger (capable of over 180MPH stock).
A relative found me an original sales brochure on eBay, and if you can find one of these, they are a great collector's item.
I'll also add how few of these I've seen. I have been aware of this car's existence for about three years (I'm 17) and I have seen one '66, two '67s, one '68, and one '69 in person. I have never seen another 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado with my own eyes and was aware of it. When I saw the '66 Toro I was opposite him at a 4-way stop, and both of us roasted the front tires in unison. It was a beautiful sight.
I happen to own currently five of the 1970 Toronado GT models in various states of repair/disrepair and they're all beautiful to me. The GT option W34 got you a 400hp setup (375hp standard) featuring a performance camshaft, performance torque converter, notched bumper for the dual (two in two out) exhaust, wheel well paint stripes and a GT emblem on the hood. I did take one of them out for the Pure Stock Musclecar Drags held yearly at the Mid-Michigan Motorplex in Stanton and held my own nicely. She ran consistent mid 15's at 88mph on a tired motor. One of these years (when I have the dough) I want to bring out one with a balanced/blueprinted mill and see if low 14's are possible. As for the looks, people always have a exclamation type comment followed by "what is it?" They made 5341 GT's in 1970 and I don't think that many survived as the engines were many times pulled to put in lighter vehicles for drag racing. They're great cars that have given me tons of fun for the last ten years.
Does any one know where to find parts for the 1970? I need a front left fender?
There's a "fast and dirty" little calculation that you can use to help you estimate, roughly, the actual horsepower of an automobile engine given the weight and the 0-60 times. This is especially revealing when you're looking at engines from the pre-1972 period, which were usually given in so-called "gross" measurements. (Actually, from an engineering standpoint there is no such thing as "gross" horsepower, but it's just an unrealistic means of measuring power and torque on a very specialized type of dynamometer without any fan belts, carburetion, exhaust, etc. In short, it was more for advertising appeal.)
Now, the calculation: Take half of the vehicle weight and divide by the 0-60 time in seconds. The result is a very rough estimate of maximum horsepower for that engine.
In this case, we have a 4700 lb Olds Toronado doing 0-60 in 9 seconds. I'm going to "pad" the 4700 pound weight with an extra 200 lbs to include driver and a tank of gas, so we'll bump the weight to 4900 lbs. Divide 4900 by 2 and then by 9, and we get the answer of--about 272 horsepower.
That might appear disappointing, but recall that a normal 455 developed its horsepower only in the mid-4000 range or less, so its potential low-end torque would be nothing to sneeze at!
But I agree that the Toronado was a fantastic, but somewhat underrated and unnoticed automobile in its day.
I just bought my 1970 Toronado GT a couple weeks ago, hoping that it still had the original 455 in it, but was not too surprised to see when it only had a 307 in it (it still made a beautiful rumble to it when it rolled over). The looks alone made me buy the beast.
This is only the second car I've bought in my lifetime. Seeing how I'm only 17, that's not too bad. I've driven a truck before, and that massive hood seems like a big ol' 3/4 tonne. Compared to anything I've ever driven, this was a cloud, you can't even feel the bumps. And living in Nova Scotia, we sure do have plenty of them.
Within the next couple years, I'm going to try and get it back to what it was when it came out of the factory, maybe even that new car smell. All I know is that I'm going to have this a while, hopefully add a little more excitement with a 455 later on. And don't worry this car, will never see the sight of snow or salt as long as I have it.