1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XS: Excess is Good

I always liked Toronados. My favorite is probably the inaugural 1966 fastback, but I love them all, right up to the final 1992 models.

But as those of you fine folks following my random scribblings over the past three years know, I also have a MAJOR soft spot for the more formal, glitzy and Broughamtastic 1971-78 Toros.

A rare variant of this generation was the XS coupe, which featured a unique bent-glass wraparound backlite, and power moonroof.

Originally, this model was supposed to have power retractable glass T-tops, but it was deemed too complex at the 11th hour.

So the moonroof was substituted, and the car was made available to the public starting in 1977.

It was a healthy bump pricewise over the standard Toronado Brougham coupe with landau top and opera windows.

While the still extremely Broughamy Toro Brougham coupe could be had for $8,134, the base price for an XS was $11,132.

Predictably, the Brougham coupe handily outsold the flossier XS, to the tune of 31,371 vs. 2,714 XSs.

Anyway, my friend in MN, Dustin Carpenter,  sent me this link earlier this week. 

It looks good. Very good. With just shy of 81,000 miles, it’s very clean. And for $5,975, it could be a fun land yacht to take to the two or three cruise nights that haven’t been cancelled. But I digress.

“1977 Toronado XS. Very good shape, new heads, CV joints, battery, tune up, brake pads and rotors, and radiator, dual exhaust.”

“Drives well. Great glass and vinyl roof. remote trunk release, Tilt steering, AC, Moon-roof, Cruise, AM/FM 8 Track, 60/40 Power seats. Inspections welcome. $5975 OBO.”

All ’77 Toros came with a 403 CID V8,with 200 bhp and a 4.35 x 3.38 bore and stroke. No diesels, no six cylinders, so plan accordingly.

So, there you have it. It’s times like this I’m glad I already have two Town Cars to feed and no room for a third Broughamtastic gas guzzler. But she sure is pretty. Check out the ad and seek out the owner, ifin you’re so inclined.

25 Replies to “1977 Oldsmobile Toronado XS: Excess is Good”

  1. John C.

    You really see the continuity of these Toros. The shape is really quite evocative of the first FWD Eldorados, much as 70s 98s owed so much to earlier Cadillacs. Then when you study the bladed fenders and crisp corners, you see how much carryover of style there was to the much smaller 1979-85. You don’t really think of the so diminished 79-85 as part of that original innovation that was the 65 Toronado but of course it was. My personal favorite Toros were the 86-88, but I am starting to understand why some of the buyers thought they had given up as much size as could be asked with the 79s while still remaining true to the heritage of innovation.

  2. snorlax

    Beautiful car! Very interesting rear glass treatment; is it a single piece? If so it must’ve been very expensive to make.

    • CJinSD

      GM also used the hot-wire glass bending technique on the rear windows of 1977-1979 full-sized Chevrolet coupes. I can’t think of another example of its use after 1979. Does anyone know of another use? Why they stopped using it?

      • Power6

        The last use I’ve seen of the hot wire bent glass was the Monte Carlo SS AeroCoupe in 1988. The one with the bubble back window to homologate for NASCAR.

      • matt oehrle

        yes I have seen the hot wire treatment used on mid 1980’s monte carlo ss aero coupe and grind prix cars the slope back cars where made in limited production numbers so that nascar racing could them on the track. kind of like the superbirds and datona cars from Chrysler from the lite 1960’s

  3. Jeff Zekas

    The Toronado driveline was popular for converting cars to mid-engine V-8: you pulled out the front wheel drive and motor, then stuck it into a custom chassis, or Into the back of a Porsche 911. My uncle bought one, the first year it came out. It sat next to his pristine Jaguar XK120 and his collection of rare books, in his garage. It seems all of my families World War Two veterans loved unusual, or imported cars.

  4. Trucky McTruckface

    The ’66 Toronado was a landmark vehicle from a design and engineering standpoint. But I can’t think of another vehicle that managed to get progressively worse the way the Toro did every year through ’78. The ’79 was much improved, but still a generic also-ran compared to the more-striking Eldorado and Riviera. I’d honestly rather have one of the shrunken ’86-’89 models over other any made after ’68; At least those cars tried to reclaim the sporty vibe of the original.

    The roofline on the XS model is atrocious. The thick, upright B-pillar looks out of place with the rest of the car and the hot-wire bent rear glass, which worked so well on the ’77-’79 full-size Chevy coupes, makes for a strange throwback to the Studebaker Starliner here. That said, it’s not that much worse than the ungainly Colonnade-style roofs GM grafted on to most of the B/C coupes in ’74-’76. I think what I hate most about this car is that it has the pin striping overemphasizing the odd side character lines.

    • John C.

      I think the bent glass roofline would have looked way cooler with the power retracting t-tops. Remember the year before they lost the real Eldo convertible and it would have been more obvious as a compliant open air substitute ala Triumph Stag. The sunroof just doesn’t communicate that

      • sgeffe

        I assume that would have rolled-back into the roof like a moonroof, but how could they have brought the bottom of the panels down to the top of the doors? I don’t know if GM could have pulled off the auto-rolldown of the windows an inch or two it would have required; wasn’t MB the first to do so on the early-‘80s SEC?

        • Carmine

          1961-1967 Continental convertible sedans actually debuted that drop the window to open the door feature years before.

          The proposed XSR power t-tops folded towards the center and back into the roof, there are a few aftermarket companies that actually did power t-tops on a few of these big Eldorados. They were smaller than the t-tops you see on F -bodies and they had thick center T-bar.

  5. George Denzinger

    My FIL bought my wife a 1975 Toronado as her first car. It was an insurance-totalled car, but not by collision. Someone had broken into the car and then sliced up the once beautiful leather interior. As the car was four years old when this happened, it was probably the least expensive thing the insurance company could do.

    If you liked your cars big and bold, with FWD, this was your car. There was something of a learning curve for her to drive the thing, as her dad taught her how to drive in a Ford Maverick, mostly. Other than the less than stellar but typical fuel mileage for a 455 cid V8 engine, she loved that car. Not so much the ninja-sliced interior.

    This car is so not my style, but I would groove on driving one once again.

  6. Dirt Roads

    I had a Toro some years back and enjoyed driving it. Nice heavy car, good engine, solid. But I traded it for a Honda VF750 which was, in the long run, a lot more fun 🙂

  7. hank chinaski

    Ah, the yuge, console wide horizontal speedometer. The world needs a video compilation of every car chase scene that flashes to it. At least this one goes to 100 rather than the gas crisis era standard 80. See also, 155mph German sedans and 276 hp Japanese GTs, although of different eras.

    That upholstery. Oof. Aunt Tilly’s couch? Dentist’s office waiting room?

    • John C.

      If only we had a video compellation of our 1977 Japanese offerings engaged in a car chase with their full instrumentation packages showing their cars falling behind while they struggle to hit even 80, not as far below their engines redline as a sensible person might hope. You of course don’t think about those but why on earth not! Oh yea, never mind. Screw the white man, rape his wife, kill his dog, ALM/BLM/JLM forever…….

      • Compaq Deskpro

        Tell the 0-60 figures to the guy (I just did it) filling his Vega with oil every fill up after 2 years of ownership, or the Citation owner that failed to avoid an accident because the brakes were unbalanced, or the Cavalier with the 100K mile water pump. Japan had no answer to a Toronado like car, and it could be argued some Toronado buyers are driving Escalades or Yukons now.

        • John C.

          Because the only measure of a car is 0-60, unless it is a Honda. What the heck is wrong with a 100k water pump? Why on earth should real Americans have to drive plumbers trucks with station wagon bodies because Compaq Deskpros don’t approve of real American cars? Can’t you just spend your time knocking over statues of overrated Tuskegee airman while you pine for Eckhard Pfeiffer.

          • Compaq Deskpro

            I love American cars (and American computers), I’ve never owned a non American car. My V6 Challenger has the same horsepower as a Civic Type-R and weighs 1000 more pounds, and is only a second slower to sixty while costing half as much. No replacement for displacement. The Cruze was a good car, the first gen was a bigger quieter Civic alternative, and I wish GM didn’t screw the pooch in the 80’s or Lordestown would still be open and these would be everywhere (or at least some Cruze Cross tall hatch thing). Let’s not knock down the statue of the 76 Accord, let’s remember history accurately so we can learn from our mistakes rather than worship a fake propaganda history, like Russia, China, North Korea and various other groups do.

            Not sure why I’d be against WWII heroes.

          • John C.

            I reread Deskpro and Hanks comments above and now more deeply understand how much they love America and a time when products were made by them and for them above any other. So of course I withdraw the above. Please don’t send your rent a mob, there are no statues of me to knock over, burn and throw in the river.

          • hank chinaski

            Jeez Louise. I was comparing the arbitrary change to the ubiquitous 80mph speedo of the fuel crisis era to the gentleman’s agreements on German sedan speed limiters and Japanese BHP ratings of their respective eras. And referencing a cultural icon of what are at least dozens (hundreds?) of screen shots to that style of dashboard in film and TV car chases over the years.

            Your anger is as misdirected as that of the statue vandals you reference.

            As for 70’s era upholstery aesthetics being universally hideous, that’s just like, my opinion, man.

  8. Wayne

    I’ve had three Toronados. ’66, ’76 & ’77. My ’66 was the real BEAST of the bunch. I loved the ’77 but the mechanics at the Olds garage could not get the timing right, so it wouldn’t PING on anything less that 100 octane fuel. That drove me Crazy!
    The ’66 had the biggest engine, most power and a 140 mph speedometer, which was just a suggestion, not the top speed. I estimated that the top speed was around 160 mph, And, she could light up those big J78x15 front tires, and smoke them for half a block. I won a lot of street Drag Races, with that car. Loved it!
    Wayne, in Florida


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