Unusual Toronados


The most famous of them all would have to be the one featured in the Mannix series. Everyone remembers Joe Mannix and his convertible, but not too many people realize that it was a 1968 Toronado especially customized by George Barris for the popular TV series of the sixties. The back seat was removed and the extra space, covered with a leather tonneau, was used as a storage area for crime fighting gadgets. The armrest between the two front seats held a gun, a short-wave radio and a telephone.  The front end, without wrap around bumper, looked more like a 1970.  Thirty coats of semi gloss kept the two-tone roadster glistening under the California sun. (source: Cars of the Stars).  George Barris customized another car to be used for stunts on the Mannix show. It did not have all the goodies that the "close-up" car had. It was later fitted with aftermarket wheels, dummy spot lights and pin striping.

In 1967, Imperial Oil of Canada requested four new customized Toronados also from G. Barris to be won through a lottery. The lucky winners received a beautifully redesigned Toronado known as 67-X. Its wheel base, extended by 15 inches, provided extra leg room for the luxurious interior which had been fitted with front swivel bucket seats, a rear seat lounge as well as a console and a stereo AM-FM radio.  The front end had been extended and two simulated air scoops added to the hood while the back end sported a fastback style.  Extended front and back bumpers achieved a pointy look, but the over-emphasized wheelwells contributed to the futuristic allure of the whole car. (source: 1001 Custom and Rod Ideas).

The new 66 Toronado style was not exactly to John Mecom Jr's liking, so his newly purchased vehicle underwent major cosmetic surgery at Dean Jeffries' shop. A lower front end, longer fenders and a Dodge Charger grille altered the front considerably while the slightly lifted rear-end created the upswept look of a fastback. Both bumpers were removed, and brake and signal lights were replaced with lit Toronado lettering along the back. The major innovation was the addition of gull-wing doors to the roof. The only significant change to the interior was a couple of bucket seats. Nevertheless, the Deano Toronado, with all its modifications, still displays the original features of the 1966 Toronado design. (source: Motor Trend/Feb.67).

John Smyser added a second engine to a stock 66 Toronado to create a supercharged racing monster: The Terrifying Toronado. As much of the original body as possible was left intact, but a few modifications and add-ons could not be avoided to accommodate the car's future racing career. (source: Car Craft/June 66).

The strangest looking Toronados I have seen are the ones used as plane pullers. The powerful frontwheel drivetrain of the first generation is ideal to pull float planes out of the water. Only the front half of the car is needed, therefore the car is cut in half behind the driver seat. A steel frame is then built using the rear axle and added to the front of the car which allows the plane to be lifted and pulled out of the water in just a few seconds. Other than a side marker added behind the door, these cars retain their characteristic (front) looks, only the 2 inside levers are evidence of the special duties these cars are modified for. (source: Françoise Mihatov photo collection).

A 1966/67 Toronado, lengthened by 36 inches created a 4-door limousine complete with tv, stereo and a bar. The body was painted in silver fire mist with a silver vinyl roof, black on the front. Another custom Toro of the same era, with its top lowered by 3 inches to give it a sleeker look, sported a one piece molded front end and had its exhaust pipes mounted in the center of the rear pannel. The windows had smoked glass and the body was painted gold pearl with browns and tangerines. (source: Show Car Roundup).

Grant MacCoon and his father, added a second complete Toronado engine and drive train in the trunk of a 1966 to achieve an exceptionally powerful 4-wheel drive luxury car. The engines could be operated together or independently. The addition of air scoops on the rear panels was the only alteration made to the car body. (Source: Drag Racing).

Built for use as an emergency vehicle, the Mini-Toronado measured less than 159 inches in overall length. It was equipped with a number of special features to help extract cars from snow-clogged parking lots. (source: Journey with Olds).

Then there is the 1968 Toronado Limo with 8 doors, used for airport service, a 2-seater shorter version of a classic 68, a Toro wagon with low rear floor and a tailgate that dropped down at the bottom of the rear bumper. And, how do you like this customized '66?