The original Toronado began as a design painting by Oldsmobile stylist David North in 1962. His design, dubbed the "Flame Red Car,"
was for a compact sports/personal car, and never intended for production. A few weeks after the design was finished, however, Oldsmobile division was informed that it
would be permitted to build a personal car in the Riviera/Thunderbird class for the 1966 model year, and North's design was selected.
Oldsmobile had been working
on front-wheel drive since 1958. Although initially envisioned for the smaller F-85 line, its cost and experimental nature pushed the program towards a larger, more expensive car.
The Ford Motor Company had patented a similar FWD layout, and were seriously considering the design for the 1961 Ford Thunderbird.
Oldsmobile spent seven years developing
the Toronado. Prior to its introduction to the public, over 1.5 million brutal test miles had been performed to verify the strength and reliability of the Toronado's front-drive
components. Obviously, Oldsmobile did not want anyone to experience problems with the new design.
History has confirmed that the Toronado design was indeed heavily over-built;
the GMC motorhome of the 1970s, which used a basically unchanged Toronado-derived drivetrain, stands as a testament to that fact.