- Written by webmin
Image courtesy oldcarbrochures.com
Looking back over the vehicles we’ve so far selected for the Class of 1986, we can pretty quickly come to a couple conclusions about the vehicles in showrooms that year. One, it was a year that saw great downsizing, thanks in part to the previous decade’s fuel crises and to the early 1980s recession. Thus the Yugo and the Hyundai Excel. Two, it was a year that ushered in digital technology and ushered out stone-age technology. Many automakers made the switch from carburetors to electronic fuel injection around this time, and it was the final year of the venerable Jeep CJ.
Against that background, then, let’s discuss the Oldsmobile Toronado. It didn’t escape Lansing’s notice that 1986 marked 20 years since the introduction of the first Toronado, with its innovative front-wheel-drive layout and Cord-hearkening styling. Over those 20 years, though, the basic drivetrain concept hardly changed: carbureted V-8 engine situated longitudinally, turning its transaxle with a big ol’ chain, utilizing body-on-frame construction. While the third-generation Toronado, which debuted in 1979, did indeed shrink in overall size and weight, Olds had more of both to shed with the fourth-gen Toronado, which lost six inches of wheelbase, about 20 inches of overall length, and about 400 pounds when it debuted in 1986. Lansing also finally ditched the 20-year-old drivetrain layout for the then-conventional transverse front-wheel-drive configuration, and made the 140hp sequential fuel injected 231-cu.in. (3.8-liter) V-6 standard. The thoroughly modernized fourth-gen Toronado also featured more technology than ever, including a body computer, digital dashboard, message center, systems monitor, automatic climate control and power everything. All that effort hardly paid off, though: Toronado sales plummeted in 1986 to less than 16,000, less than half of the prior year’s total, and yearly sales totals rarely bettered that figure before Oldsmobile axed the Toronado at the end of the 1992 model year.
One would think that the cool reception when it was new would translate into little enthusiast demand, but we’ve encountered several enthusiasts who swear by their fourth-gen Toronados, including former Hemmings editor George Mattar. But what say you? Would you add a 1986 Oldsmobile Toronado to your 1986-centric collection? Would you drive one on a VMCCA tour? Or does all that technology not make one worth messing with?