Foward Thinking

Websters defines Foresight as: The act of looking forward

Some fifty years ago General Motors was in the midst of a feverish design battle with its two domestic competitors. In an unprecedented move beginning in 1956, and over the ensuing three years, all five of GM's divisions saw major exterior sheet metal and interior changes for each of the subsequent years ending in 1959, but these changes dramatic as they seem at the time were of little impact to the future of the automobile as we know it, but all that was about to change! In 1958 unbeknownst to us within the walls of GM's corporate offices the concept of front wheel drive (which had been absent for some 20 years) was on the table and open for discussion! It would bring about the biggest change to come out of that era, and marked a beginning that for General Motors in later years would stand the auto industry on its ear.

In the early 60's rear wheel drive assembles were largely unchanged for over 40 years. Improvements were made yes, but the premise was the same. Rear engine, rear drive development presented it own set of problems, the most prevalent of those was cooling. Even as GM worked developing the rear engine rear drive concept to do battle with a recent foreign import; it was also working on something that would prove to be much better. Quietly at the home office of the Oldsmobile in Lansing the engineering dept. was enjoying a growing list of leadership credentials. With the successful development of the hydro-matic transmission in the late 30's which it saw service to during WW II. In the following years after which brought the development of Rocket V8 which was literally an over the top engine so well designed for reliability, it went into production for release in the 1949 model year and was easily 5 years a head of its competition.

With all of this background it seemed only natural that Oldsmobile motor division would participate in the development of the next generation of drive system. Remember we're in the late fifties none of this happened over night, it took seven years of hard work, planning and foresight from conception to introduction, to bring the xp784 project to fruition . Keep in mind everything had to be worked out with slide rules and raw math and some trial and error thrown in, CAD systems were only a gleam in eyes of NASA.

Today some question and even dismiss the impact the Toronado played in future development in the automobile industry, regardless of how we individually see it. Its legacy is clear with few exceptions most automobiles produced today are in fact front wheel drive. First generation Toronado's number only 143,134 units built from 66-70. By today's production standards it's a mere drop in the bucket . In the interest of preservation and with the help from many Toronado owners a database was begun of first generation cars. As this information was gathered and assimilated it didn't take long for before questions began to arise, and that's when things really started to get interesting. Some of the miss information better know as (urban legends) was beginning to unravel, in doing so raised even more unanswered questions.

The database consists of one or more photos with its accompanying VIN's for ID prepossess, and its body plate. We are finding the body plate plays a more integral part of this process. Pictures of cars as such were just that pictures, and the VIN's by themselves are irrelevant. By adding the body plates together with the other two a story about a given car and its history begins to unfold.

Good solid documentation can and will have a direct impact on the value these car in the years to come if it is done correctly regardless of its generation. The intent is to build and provide a solid database of information on complete cars (condition not with standing) as well as those that have become parts cars and those that will cist to exist. The information being gathered will substantiate survivors, standard / base vs. deluxe /custom and so as well as numbers of units in given colors, key options not to mention those that sport vary rare options, one of kind and even factory errors believe it they did happen.

Much has been learned of from the over 600 units gathered over the past 3 year. Which by the way is only .5% of total 1 st generation production alone. Clearly we are the beginning stages and it will not be completed over night. It will take time to accurately gather this information, but as it becomes more complete a picture will begin to emerge about each of four generations of the Toronado and its predecessor the Aurora , that will close the gap of speculation and provide hard data that we all should benefit from.

Take the time to do some research one never knows what they may have... there's a surprise waiting to be discovered around very corner.

It's not what we do for today its what we do for the... future.

Bill Payne