In 1979, GM debuted its newly downsized personal luxury trio: The Cadillac Eldorado, the Buick Riviera, and the Oldsmobile Toronado. All three had been valued members of the General Motors fleet by that time, but in ’79, they all became front wheel drive.
It wasn’t always that way. The original Buick Riviera started out as its own model, albeit borrowing heavily from the full-sized Buicks, from inaugural 1963 through 1965. Then the Toronado appeared in 1966, with front wheel drive. The redesigned ’66 Riviera was on the same body, but retained rear wheel drive. Finally, in ’67 the front wheel drive Fleetwood Eldorado coupe came onto the scene.
From ’67 until 1976, all three E-coupes stayed this course: same body, but with the Olds and Cadillac front drive and the Riv rear wheel drive.
But starting in model year ’77, Buick went off on a bizarro tangent, with the Riviera now essentially a heavily restyled version of the 1977 C-body Electra coupe. This lasted through ’78. At the same time, the Eldorado and Toronado retained their 1971 bodies, but with ever more and more padded vinyl tops, velour-clad interiors and Broughamtastic luxury features added.
Then, in Autumn 1978 it was the personal luxury coupes’ turn to go on a crash diet. But like the 1977 B- and C-bodies, they remained attractive and appealing, despite losing their sheer size and opulence.
Trouble was, the Toronado kind of got lost in the shuffle. While sales were good, it seems like most folks gravitated to either the first cabin sumptuousness of the Cadillac Eldorado, or the smooth lines of the Riviera-newly available with a turbo V6, in addition to the usual range of V8s.
But I always loved the Toronados. And one of the rarest versions of the 1979-85 Toronado is the 1984-85 Caliente. I remember these from when I was a kid. As most kids who grew up in the ’80s, I rode my bike all over the neighborhood, eventually branching out to an approximate ten-block radius of home base.
Anyway, about six blocks from my house, there was another house on the corner that had one of these parked out front, a Toronado Caliente in black with black landau top and dove gray interior. I really liked that car, and rode by it probably a couple hundred times between about 1989-94 or so.
So I knew about the Toronado Caliente from an early age. As a result, I always kind of preferred the Toronado to the Riv and Eldo, unless of course we’re talking triple white Eldorado Biarritz! Today, I like all three about equally, but will always have a soft spot for the Toronado.
Our feature car today is currently owned by a friend of mine, Robert Reed, whose 1985 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham I wrote up last year. He has, and has had, some really remarkable GM luxury cars, and this is one of them.
If you love these classic luxury cars as much as I do, check out his website, showcasing the cars in his collection, past and present. But as is common with people who collect cars, there is always ‘the next one’, and so this Toronado is being sold off to make way for future additions.
I’ll let Robert himself give the details on this rare birdie: “This stunning low mile Olds is one of only 2,400 Toronados with the rare Caliente package produced in 1984. The Caliente package to the Toronado was what the Biarritz package was to it’s sister Cadillac Eldorado.
This package took the Toronado to a whole different level and included brushed aluminum accents on the trunk and nose of the car, as well as a polished aluminum trim strip that ran down the front fenders to the rear of the car.”
“The Caliente also had additional lower rocker panel treatments and a special landau vinyl top with a stunning stainless steel band that stretched over the top of the car. A special hood ornament and Caliente scripts were on the vinyl top, as well a a full digital dash. These rare birds were very distinct and was the epitome of personal luxury.”
“The Toronado was unfortunately restyled into a smaller car in 1986 that aside from the name shared nothing with this body. These cars are nearly extinct these days and to find a low mile example like this one is next to impossible, let alone one with this special Caliente trim package. To make this Olds even more desirable is it’s winning color scheme of Dark Autumn Maple with Dark Maple Red leather.”
“Only 32K miles on this beauty and is simply the best Toronado you will find anywhere. The end of a classic styling era that will never be repeated again.”
“This Oldsmobile is very hard loaded, including rare factory astroroof, Twilight Sentinel lighting and auto dimming rear view mirror. Cold AC, electric windows, locks, seats, cruise, and the list goes on.”
“Front and rear filler panels around the bumpers were replaced and is a perfect color match.”
“New tires have less than 100 miles, AC has also been completely serviced. A new perfect color match headliner was also installed recently. It simply does not get any better than this. Smooth quiet V8 power.”
Intrigued? If so, you can check out the auction here. And even if you aren’t in the market for a Sunday-driver personal luxury car, there are way more photos of this most excellent Oldsmobile to ogle!
Just loved these ‘79 – ‘85 E bodies. For me they were peak-GM, capping off a sheer-style run that began with the ‘76 – ‘79 K body Seville.
If only I had the garage space…
I sincerely hope his shill bidder buddy wins this prize. Check out the bidder with nine feedbacks who bid on the other two priceless gems that he previously sold. Mr. “nine feedback” had to retract his bid on the $12K Fleetwood Brougham though — “oops!” — almost had to pay a FVF on that one 🙂
Too bad E-bay decided to mask user identities — they’ve purposely made it more difficult for potential buyers to identify this type of activity but that’s how it goes.
Yeah, I just looked at that. As someone who has done a fair bit of buying and selling on eBay for more than 20 years, that’s damn fishy.
Very pretty car, with a great color combo. I always ranked the Tornado third during the 79-85 E/K era, not as pretty as the Riviera, and not a Buick either(our house brand as a kid) and not as pretty or as upscale as an Eldorado. Though in the 1971-1978 I kinda like them, especially after the Riviera was de-boat tailed, the 2nd set of stop lamps in the upper deck were always a source of interest when I saw them on the road as a kid.
The Caliente was sort of a mix of the remains of the old Tornado XSC package and the a Biarritz like extra trim package, though as far as I can tell, the interior in a Caliente is the same as the regular Toronado, though there were some wild interior options like a leather and lambswool insert seat package that may have been for the Caliente only.
It would be interesting to know the story behind this time capsule. It usually seems these “like new” low mileage old cars are most often stripper versions of cheap cars (i.e. base 6 with 3 on tree and vinyl bench seat) owned by little old ladies who literally only drive them to church on Sunday in a gentle climate, OR they are “limited edition” models that are “sure to be valuable collector cars” that are purchased by speculators and stored (see Cosworth Vega, the 1976 Eldorado “last” convertible, 25th Anniversary Pace Car Corvette, Buick Grand National, pretty much any Ferrari, etc.). This one doesn’t fit either category, so I wonder why someone splurged on a top-line Toro and then drove it less than 1,000 miles per year.
I don’t know if it applies in this case – but I’ve seen similar cherry low mileage Cadillacs come up for sale.
Their back story always seems to be something along the lines of a hard working man saving all his dough for retirement when he treats himself to a Caddy. The final announcement that after a lifetime of work he’s arrived.
But sadly these guys all seem to go for the high jump six months to a year later. Leaving their widows with a boat that they can’t or won’t drive.
That was one of my reasons I ordered my Cadillac at 43. In my case I hung up my license at 50. At least I had almost eight summers to drive it.
This is the first time I have heard of the Caliente, at least by Oldsmobile. I am really impressed with the looks. The additional styling pieces on the car really set it off. I briefly looked out the guys web site and I remember the Cadillac for sale. I will go deeper into his site later. I just don’t happen to be in the market for a car at the moment. This one would be one to temp me at a lower price.