1974 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham: Coffee and Cream!

Thomas Klockau

The ’70s. It was a different time. Coupes and sedans were in, and never was heard, a crossover word. Thank goodness! Luxury coupes galore, and so many sepia tones on the street. Golds, beiges, tans, burnt oranges, tobacco browns. It was a different time. Such a time that one could drop six grand on a personal luxury coupe like this and pick a color combo that might be more commonly seen on delivery vans or contractor pickups these days. I love it!

1974 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham front three quarter
Thomas Klockau

Yes, coupes. Back then you were absolutely spoiled for coupes. They were “in like Flynn,” or perhaps Matt Helm. Eldorados, Thunderbirds, Grand Prixes (or is that Grandes Prix? Someone help me here!). And Toronados.

Oldsmobile Toronado ad front three quarter

I still miss Oldsmobile. It’s been nearly 20 years since they disappeared for good. Back when I was a kid, however, they were everywhere. There’s a reason the 1996 classic movie Fargo had Jerry Lundegaard selling Oldsmobiles. They were a big deal, especially to us Midwesterners. Back then you couldn’t go a block without seeing at least one Cutlass Ciera, Delta 88, or Supreme Brougham.

1974 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham interior
Thomas Klockau

But today we’re talking ’70s Olds, specifically the top of the line. Fullsize Oldsmobiles were truly large and in charge in 1974. And such choice! The Ninety-Eights were the biggest and in Regency trim were positively decadent as they whisked you to the Moonlight Bay Supper Club for drinks and surf and turf. But Olds’ best personal luxury coupe—and no slouch in the size department itself—was the Toronado.

1974 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham rear three quarter
Thomas Klockau

The 1974 models marked the fourth year of production in this body style. The ’71 lost the original (and gorgeous) ’66 fastback shape and traded it for a much more Eldorado-like appearance, with smart long-hood, short-deck proportions. The 74s came in “base” (make no mistake, there was nothing base about it) $5559 coupe ($34,358 today) and $5713 Brougham ($35,310) versions. All were powered by the vaunted 455-cubic-inch Oldsmobile V-8, developing 230 horsepower at 4000 rpm, and breathing through a Rochester 4MC four-barrel carburetor. Overall length was 228 inches; wheelbase was 122 inches.

1974 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham front
Thomas Klockau

It will likely surprise no one that the Brougham was the most popular version, to the tune of 19,488 versus 8094 regular Toronado coupes. Brougham was alive and well in 1974, yes siree Bob! Standard features included the aforementioned 455 V-8, Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, power steering, full wheel discs, power front disc/rear drum brakes, digital clock, and other goodies.

1974 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham options brochure
Thomas Klockau

And colors! It wasn’t like these days with seemingly 80 percent of cars either black, white, or silver. Our featured car is Colonial Gold, though in person it was more of a saddle tan color, being nonmetallic. Other colors available on ’74 Oldsmobiles included Cinnamon, Colonial Cream, Silver Taupe, Cranberry, Reef Turquoise, Zodiac Blue, and Clove Brown. And you could get your interior in tan, green, red, blue, black, or white—the latter being available in vinyl only, naturally.

1974 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham interior front full
Thomas Klockau

This car is something of an artifact, in more ways than one. I saw it way back in the summer of 2013 at the famous, must-attend Maple City Cruise Night in Monmouth, Illinois. Sadly, back then I had a relatively small memory card in my digital camera, so didn’t get the 30–40 pics I would if I saw it today. I remember talking with the owner, though, and it was a largely original car. I was impressed with the moldings along the base of the vinyl roof, with “Toronado” embossed into it. Had to be an original top, as I’m sure it wouldn’t have had the embossed lettering if a new one was added at some point. I also loved the color-keyed bumper rub strips. It was just a great, honest car, and I sadly never saw it again. But at least I saw it once!

1974 Oldsmobile Toronado Brougham front three quarter
Thomas Klockau



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    The Olds Tornado was truly a ” luxury ” automobile next to the El Dorado , but during the oil crisis of 1973 -’74 , those Tornados reportedly only got 6 M.P.G . They got the worst gas mileage of any U.S. car . 1974 was not a good year for the luxury car market as many buyers were moving to economy cars .

    I think the move was more toward the Cutlass by that time. The emissions equipment was horrible in those days – a 1956 Olds with a 324 put out more power, and no doubt got better gas mileage too – truly the malaise period!

    Can long forgotten sheet metal that spewed dead dinosaur fluids elicit
    powerful feelings of lost innocence and sad melancholy when it is no longer politically correct to do so? “Olds”, indeed…

    These were cars you ARRIVED in, when style was king and sport was a game and utility was a closet ( basically,SUV drivers are driving a sporty closet!) Gone are the decades of class, of getting valet service at a fancy restaurant and paying the valet to keep your car up front!! Those were the days!!

    I have 1978 XS Oldsmobile Tornado untouched car super super clean car peanut butter interior sunroof mudflaps still clean for sale 17500 if you know anyone who interested 4325220556

    I think the move was more toward the Cutlass by that time. The emissions equipment was horrible in those days – a 1956 Olds with a 324 put out more power, and no doubt got better gas mileage too – truly the malaise period!

    Another great car and article. My folks had Oldsmobile’s growing up, until a 1980 diesel 98 broke them of that habit. (It was a great car for high school; too slow to get a ticket, more money left over for beer…)
    The phrase is “In like Flynn”, but the James Coburn movie was “In like Flint”, the second of two “Flint” movies, which I suspect was your intention given that Matt Helm was referenced next.
    For car lovers, Derek Flint had an early Excaliber in a scene with Bill Lear and a Lear Jet. And Matt Helm had a number of custom cars, including a customized 1965 Mercury Colony Park station wagon, and several Thunderbirds and Lincolns, one of which had an inflatable hotel room in the trunk.

    Someone obviously took very good care it that. Sadly, the plastic filler panels between the body corners and bumpers all rotted away. Very typical of those post 1973 GM cars with 5-mph bumpers.

    That color is “interesting”. Not my favorite Toronado. It is definitely in between the early glory days or more interesting later days of this car for me.

    My rich uncle from Chicago had a new 71 Toronado. The 455 towed his large boat like nobody’s business. I always liked those extra eye-level brake lights up near the rear window.

    Too big and bulky-looking, although with better lines than the equivalent Eldorado. The 1979-1985 Toros were trimmer, and much better-looking.

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