The Oldsmobile Toronado was an automotive innovator when it first came out in the mid-1960s. It was a huge personal luxury coupe in the vein of GM’s Buick Riviera, but with a twist: The Toronado was the first U.S.-built, mass-produced car with front-wheel drive since the Cord brand went away in 1937. This widely forgotten Oldsmobile was a major player in bringing FWD to the mainstream.
Today’s Autotrader find is a 1983 Oldsmobile Toronado, which is in the car’s third generation, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Normally, a third-gen Toronado isn’t that special of a car, but there are a few quirks that make this one unique. For starters, it has just under 10,000 miles on the odometer, meaning someone preserved a car that doesn’t really have much of a collectibility factor.
The other weird thing about this car is that it’s a rare example of a Toronado convertible. Convertible Toronados are quite rare, and, as of this writing, this one’s the only Oldsmobile convertible for sale on Autotrader that isn’t a ’90s Cutlass Supreme. A firm called American Sunroof Company made Toronados into convertibles, and this one uses a power-operated cloth top, which is pretty advanced for a 1983 Oldsmobile. Other fancy luxuries include power windows, power seats, cruise control and plush red leather seating.
The third-generation Toronado, the Buick Riviera and the Cadillac Eldorado — which at the time shared the same platform — were the last of a very specific mechanical setup. They were the last body-on-frame cars with a longitudinally mounted V8 engine and FWD. From then on, unibody construction and transverse V8s were common in GM’s luxury cars.
Speaking of V8s: This Toronado is powered by a 5.0-liter Oldsmobile V8 that only makes 140 horsepower. That’s less power than a Subaru Crosstrek. This was at the tail end of the malaise era when American car companies were really struggling to squeeze respectable horsepower ratings out of V8 engines while meeting emissions and fuel economy standards. The V8 is mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. This car also has an independent rear suspension, which gives it decent space in the trunk and back seats despite being drastically downsized from the second-gen Toronado, which was about 20 inches longer.
Is this Toronado fast and luxurious? Not really by today’s standards, but it’s a unique and surprisingly well preserved version of an automotive rarity. Its asking price is just $9,900 — you could be the only one on your block driving an Oldsmobile Toronado convertible. Find an Oldsmobile Toronado for sale