CAR: OLDSMOBILE TORONADO
RUN BY Martin Buckley
OWNED SINCE November 2017
PREVIOUS REPORT Sept 2018
I’ve had the Toronado 14 months and it still feels different and exciting every time I drive it. The best way to motivate myself to get minor things sorted is the prospect of taking it to an event; it had an invitation to the London Classic Car Show in February, but the plan changed and it wasn’t needed – yet it put some momentum behind getting a few things sorted nevertheless.
Some of the jobs required are visual irritations, such as the missing passenger-side door button and the cracked cover for the floor-mounted seatbelt reel, which will require me to put an order in to the American parts specialist.
Meanwhile, I got trimmer Dave Barker to make me a new boot-floor carpet to replace the terrible bit of rubbish that was in there. Ian Sealey at UK Detailing repainted the original pressed-steel air cleaner in matt black (it should be blue, but I went for a bit of artistic licence) to replace the chrome one, which looked a bit too hot-rod.
The Toronado has never been easy to start from cold, so I got my mechanic Gus Meyer to clear a few days in his schedule to sort the carb, and at the same time fix the leak from the transmission that leaves little pink puddles all over-my shed.
Gus had to renew the sump gasket, which is usually a straightforward job – drain the fluid, remove the sump, clean the mating surfaces, replace the gasket and refit the sump. On this gearbox, however, Oldsmobile omitted to fit a drain plug, so removing the fluid became an ‘interesting’ operation.
“I had to remove all the bolts except for the ones along the front of the sump,” said Gus, “then loosen them slowly to allow the sump to tilt towards the rear and let the fluid drain out – or, rather, cascade out, with 50% missing the receptacle underneath.” Messy. Still, the rest went according to plan, the new gasket is now fitted and it looks to be leak-free.
Another interesting incident was finding the correct transmission fluid. I thought all auto gearbox oil was the same – pink, with a very specific and not unpleasant whiff – but apparently not. “The original spec was a Type A,” explained Gus, “which is now almost obsolete. According to the internet, the successors went along the lines of Type A to Type A suffix A, then onto Dexron and Dexron II.
“Comma claims that its ATF AQM is a suitable replacement for the earlier Type A suffix A, so that is what I used.” It’s worth checking if you are running something old with an automatic in it.
Replacing points and condenser was simple, using the tune-up kit pal Merrill Benfield brought over in the summer, as was setting the dwell angle and renewing the oil-pressure sensor, which was also leaking. Gus traced the cold-start issue to a non-functioning acceleration pump plunger seal. A new carb kit is on order, but he managed a temporary repair for now. The next job will be to set up the automatic choke and fast idle, once Gus has worked out the grainy pictures in the workshop manual.
One thing I must remember to do is replace the fuel sender: the current one is vague, and I blessed the spare can of fuel that previous owner Marko left in the boot when I ran out last summer. I suspect the drum-type speedo tells similar fibs; coming back from the Bibury Classic Car Hub on a summer evening, I thought I was doing well in the Toronado until a pal in an Aston V8 went past as if I was at a standstill. We did all the local shows last year and got some nice comments.
At the Tetbury Classic Car Show I had an interesting chat with a guy from the Ford Corsair Owners’ Club and told him about the one I used to play in as a kid on my auntie’s farm in Worcestershire circa 1971. I had to smile when he asked if I could find out if it’s still there!
The Oldsmobile is the perfect art installation for The Shed, and never fails to generate interest or start a conversation. Martin’s mum Barbara tries Olds for size Dave Barker measures up for boot carpet. Ruby the dog enjoys the vast, comfy cabin. Buckley’s futuristic Toronado on show at Kemble airfield, with suitable jet-age backdrop.