Do you remember your first car love?
The car that made me fall in love with cars was the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado. I was just a clueless pre-teen when my dad brought home the rusty old car on a flatbed trailer. Little did I know it then, but that car would change the directory of my car-loving life.
Over the next couple of years we worked together to bring that beat-up old car back to life. It received an engine rebuild on the 425-cubic-inch V8, a new paint job, and a new interior. When finished, the car looked like it could have rolled off the Oldsmobile assembly line just days earlier.
That old Toronado taught me that cars can be so much more than simple transportation. They can actually develop personalities and grow up with a person while helping a father and son build a deeper relationship.
I remembered the Toronado because of an article that reminded me of my dad. Just seeing a picture of the Olds brought back memories of riding on the front bench seat as we drove to the auto-parts store. I could smell the oil in the engine compartment and remember seeing those flip-up headlights spring into action.
A Hagerty article said,
The Toronado’s novelty and good looks caught the attention of both press and public. Motor Trend named it Car of the Year, and in their review, they wrote, “The mere sight of the Toronado had an electric effect upon some motorists we’d overtake or meet. The typical driver would let us pass and pull away a short distance, while he digested what he’d seen. Then suddenly he’d accelerate, overtake, and seesaw back and forth by us several times while he checked the nameplate and thoroughly looked us over.”
The Toronado isn’t one of the most popular classic cars of its era, but it’s one of the most influential, because it introduced front-wheel drive to American cars. It’s also the car that showed me that cars are worthy of our love.
Dad sold the Toronado after it was restored, but had it not been for that car, I don’t know if I would have fallen in love with Porsches later in life or passed down my car obsession to my son, who I hope gets to someday experience his dad coming home with an old car on a flatbed trailer.
What car made you fall in love with cars?