Thursday, May 11, 2017

What Were They Thinking?: 1968 Olds Toronado Facelift

I wrote about the iconic 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado here and redesigned Toronados here.  This post deals with a facelifted version of the original design.  As I mentioned in the first link, the design was slightly compromised in 1967 thanks to a minimally revised grille.  It got worse for the 1968 model year, the focus of this post.  (For some background on Toronados, go to the Wikipedia entry.)

I titled this post "What Were They Thinking?" for two reasons.  First, there was a pretty obvious rationale for the revised grille that I'll suggest below.  Secondly, that and other changes completed the destruction of the purity of the 1966 design, and "What Were They Thinking?" expresses my horror.


An advertisement for a 1968 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight (the top of the sedan line).  The '68 model year was when Oldsmobile introduced two-segment split grilles, a feature that continued for years thereafter (see my book "How Cars Faced the Market" for more about split grilles).

My conjecture is that Olds management wanted Toronados to conform to this new theme.  The resulting Pontiac-like grille and hood design is shown in this ad.

The rest of the car also received some unfortunate restyling.  This Mecum Auctions photo shows a Toronado Holiday Coupe.  The vinyl covering on the roof is a phony feature in the first place.  Worse, it extends down over the C-pillar zone destroying the original blending of the greenhouse and lower side in the area of the rear wheel opening.  The striping near the fender line of the car shown here further degrades the original concept.

Here is a publicity photo of a 1966 Toronado for comparison.

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