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!