Tag: 1966

The Revolutionary 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado – Ben Branch @Silodrome

The Revolutionary 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado – Ben Branch @Silodrome


When the Oldsmobile Toronado was introduced in 1966 it would become the first front wheel drive American production car since the Cord 810/812 from almost 30 years prior in 1937.

The front wheel drive layout would be almost prophetic, with a significant swathe of production automobiles switching to it over the years after the Toronado appeared in the mid-1960s.

Fast Facts – The Oldsmobile Toronado

  • The Oldsmobile Toronado wasn’t originally intended for production, it started out as a design sketch by David North in 1962. It was a personal coupe with futuristic styling – the executives like it so much it was given the green light to enter production on the E-body platform.
  • Oldsmobile intended the Toronado as a personal luxury car to compete with the likes of the Buick Riviera, the Pontiac Grand Prix, and the Ford Thunderbird.
  • The name Toronado has no pre-defined meaning, it’s believed to be a joining of the word “Toro” (Spanish for “Bull”), and the word “Tornado” and it was first used on a 1963 Chevrolet concept car.
  • When it was released for 1966 the Oldsmobile Toronado was named Motor Trend car of the year, in won the Car Life’s Award for Engineering Excellence, and it even finished third in the European Car of the Year competition – a rare accolade for an American vehicle.

The Accidental Production Car

The Oldsmobile Toronado had stared out as a compact personal luxury car penned by Oldsmobile stylist David North in 1962. It was a design exercise rather than a production proposal, but Oldsmobile needed a competitor for cars like the Riviera, the Grand Prix, and the Thunderbird – and they believed that the Toronado design was just the ticket.

Above Video: In this episode of Jay Leno’s Garage he meets David North, the designer of the Oldsmobile Toronado, and talks about his own car – a 1966 model.

The original design was for a relatively small car by American standards, so North was tasked with increasing the size to better suit the larger E-body platform which was more similarly sized to the competition.

Oldsmobile executives knew they needed a unique selling point for their car and they had had engineers experimenting with front wheel drive systems since the late 1950s. It was decided that the new Toronado would use such a system, and that no rear wheel drive version would be offered.

At the time of release the Toronado was fitted with the prodigious 425 cubic inch (7.0 liter) Rocket V8 producing 385 bhp and 475 lb ft of torque. Despite the hefty curb weight of 4,496 lbs (2,039 kgs) the car could do the 0-62 mph dash in just 9.5 seconds with a top speed of 135 mph (217 km/h).

The only transmission option was the Turbo-Hydramatic heavy-duty three-speed automatic which had been mated to a unique silent chain-drive system called Hy-Vo in order to send power to the front wheels.

Perhaps the only downside to the Toronado was the fact that in its first year of production it came with drum brakes on all four corners. Given the weight of the car these brakes tended to fade relatively quickly with heavy use – an issue that was rectified in 1967 when vented front disc brakes were offered as an option.

This cutaway illustration of the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado shows the until front wheel drive system.

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This Is What Everyone Forgot About The 1966 Le Mans – Arun Singh Pundir @HotCars


The Matt Damon, Christian Bale 2019 hit, Ford v Ferrari (also titled Le Mans ’66 in some countries), made one thing very clear and memorable. The year 1966 marked an important change in racing history when a hitherto mass-passenger-carmaker managed to produce a racecar that beat the competition and emerged the winner.

The car was the GT40, the main people behind its success were Henry Ford II, Lee Iacocca, Leo Beebe, the indubitable Carroll Shelby, and of course, the lanky Brit racer, Ken Miles. Not only did the Ford GT40 win the Le Mans in 1966, but also did a 1-2-3 photo finish, the three cars that came in at number one, two and three, were all Ford GT40s.

24 Hours of Daytona, so this was the ultimate triumph for Ford, and the ultimate salt rub into Ferrari’s wounds.

So sure, the movie did dramatize some stuff, delete some other boring details and overall turn the Ford GT40 and its makers into heroes. A lot of it was true, some of it was fudged. So here’s what the world forgot about the 1966 Le Mans, and all that went down it…

The First Win For US Amidst Ferrari Drama

The 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans came to be the 34th Grand Prix of Endurance and was the seventh round of the 1966 World Sportscar Championship season. This was the first win for an American constructor overall, and the first win for the Ford GT40 as well.

The rules changed for this season with certain kinds of cars being deemed ineligible, so to let a certain amount of competition in, more cars were added into the rules.

The one thing that worked in Ford’s favor was that they copied Ferrari’s strategy of introducing copious amounts of cars in the same race, and this swayed the statistics on the whole. Ferrari on the other hand, had less time of preparation for 1966, because of a worker strike in Italy – although they too had the new Ferrari 330 P3, as well as NART P2 in the contending. That said; Ferrari did not even show up for the test weekend in April.

Another drama that unfolded in the Ferrari camp was the storming out of lead driver John Surtees, Ferrari’s 1964 F1 champion. While he was recovering from a bad 1965 crash, it was decided that he would break the Fords, and in case he needed backup, he would let Ludivico Scarfiotti takes the lead. But FIAT’s new chairman, Gianni Agnelli, who was Scarfiotti’s uncle, put Scarfiotti in the lead. Surtees tried to sway Enzo Ferrari but when he was overruled, he quit the Ferrari team.

Ford Was No Fairer To Ken Miles

Ford’s Leo Beebe was no fan of Ken Miles and Miles was not known for his political correctness. Miles had already won the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Daytona for Shelby American – and he was now aiming for the 24 Hours Of Le Mans as well, something no driver had ever been able to achieve.

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The Pony Express Ford’s Mid-engine Mustang – The Real Back Story – Michael Lamm @TheAutoChannel


Author Michael Lamm recounts the development of Ford’s 196 Mustang the first mid-engine throust toward Total Performance.

People have tried for years to weave a connection between the Ford Mustang I-the knee-high 2-seater in which Dan Gurney lapped Watkins Glen in 1962-and the production Mustang that came out in May 1964.

Well, forget it. There ain’t no connection, or at best precious little. Other than the name, the horsey emblem, and the side scoops, the Mustang I didn’t contribute to the production car in any rational way. The little Mustang I did lead Ford into the GT40 program, though, and was emblematic of a performance and marketing bonanza that soon became known as Total Performance.

The Mustang I was created, it turns out, as an early component of Ford’s Total Performance buildup. According to retired Ford engineer Robert D. Negstad, who worked on the Mustang I and was later part of the team that developed the 7-liter Shelby Cobra, “The people who came out of (the Mustang I group) went on to win Le Mans…. They learned their craft and their skills in that Mustang I project. It was a labor of love….”

Horse of a Different Color

To begin at the beginning, around 1960 a Ford product planner named Don Frey became disturbed that the company was losing its performance image, especially among younger buyers. Hotrodders had given up the flathead Ford V8 in favor of smallblock Chevys and Chrysler Hemis. Sports-car enthusiasts were buying imports and Corvettes. Ford was becoming an old-maid car company.

So Frey expressed his concern to Robert S. McNamara, Ford’s car and truck VP, and to Henry Ford II, the company president. Frey also rallied a number of other Ford executives, key among them vice presidents Gene Bordinat (design) and Herb Misch (engineering). Frey’s message, in effect, was “Hey, fellas, we’ve got a marketing problem. Let’s do something to polish up Ford’s styling and performance

Designer Bordinat immediately got busy. Ford’s studios were turning out an armada of showcars-as many as one a week, most of them fiberglass rollers minus powertrains. Often these projects came in response to design competitions routinely held among Ford’s various studios. But for a competition in January 1962, Bordinat asked his styling chiefs to submit concepts for something new: a small, no-holds-barred sports car.

One of the designers was John Najjar, now retired after a career with Ford going back to the late ’30s. “We had a studio under Bob Maguire,” Najjar explains, “and in it were Jim Darden, Ray Smith, plus an artist, Phil Clark, several modelers, and me. We drew up a 2-seater sports car in competition with the other studios, and when they saw ours-saw the blackboard with a full-sized layout and sketches- they said, ‘That’s it! Let’s build it.’ So we made a clay model, designed the details, and then built a fiberglass prototype.” This car was simply a concept study rather than the final configuration, but it included a lot of the sporty, rakish flair the later showcar embodied.

With the performance kettle starting to simmer in Dearborn, VP of Design Bordinat decided to take this 2-seat concept further and build it into a showable prototype. To that end he invited his opposite number in engineering, Herb Misch, to come over and take a look.

Misch got excited as well, and he selected a special-projects wizard named Roy Lunn to head up the creation of a complete prototype. Lunn would act as liaison between the styling and engineering sides and oversee the building of the car.

By now it was early May of ’62, and the car had even earned a name: Mustang, suggested by John Najjar. Ford insiders actually referred to it as the Mustang Sports Car, and it wasn’t until the 4-place 1963 Mustang II concept car came out that people began calling the 2-seater Mustang I retroactively.

The Mustang I advanced quickly from concept sketches to package drawings conforming with the engineering specifications that were being laid down simultaneously. Najjar recalls that his studio’s full-sized drawings contained the suggestion of a tubular spaceframe, and Ray Smith, the studio engineer, added the popup headlights, retractable license plate, fixed seats, and adjustable-reach steering and pedals.

Fueled primarily on enthusiasm-the budget for the project being virtually nonexistent-in short order Ford had a fiberglass prototype of their 2-seat sports car. Initially no one knew whether the prototype would be developed into a runner or not, but by mid-summer Misch and Bordinat decided that in either case they wanted to display the car at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen on 7 October 1962.

At that point the project still had no budget and only the fuzziest of goals: to show up at Watkins Glen on race day. But on that goal alone Roy Lunn quickly assembled a team and dedicated them to building a finished showcar in the remarkable time of just 100 working days.

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The vilification of Leo Beebe: Ford’s mission to win Le Mans in 1966 – Frank Comstock @Hemmings


Frank Comstock, a friend of the late Leo Beebe.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford

 “Great leaders inspire a sense of mission. Good people with a proper sense of mission will find a way to get the job done.”  Leo Beebe

Fifty years have elapsed since Ford Motor Company’s overwhelming victory at Le Mans in 1966 and the controversy over who did win, or who should have won, the race. Ford and its Director of Special Vehicles, Leo Beebe, were both praised and vilified in the motor sports world and press at the time and, in some ways, nothing has changed. The Internet teems with comments about the way the race ended, while online and print publications have returned to the fray in recent years, undoubtedly looking forward to this 50th anniversary.

 to have a particular driver or pair of drivers win. He was told in simple terms by his old friend Henry Ford II to put a Ford car in the winners’ circle at Le Mans. He also had to do the same at Daytona and Indianapolis, but there is no doubt that Le Mans was the main attraction. Henry Ford wanted to beat Ferrari and Le Mans was the place to do just that.

As one of Ford’s most trusted trouble shooters, Leo was known as a man who could bring order out of chaos. He knew that with each new challenge, he needed to assemble a team of experts and guide them to success. He knew he had to give credit to the team when success was assured and he understood he needed to take responsibility when failure or controversy happened.

The start of the 1966 race.

In the final hours of the 1966 Le Mans race, with only three of Ford’s eight team cars (and none of the five independent Fords) left in the fray, the squad began talking about how the race should end. The Miles/Hulme car was leading as the hours wound down, with the McLaren/Amon car initially a lap back, although they made up that lap when the Miles/Hulme car took a late pit stop. The Bucknum/Hutcherson car was several laps back, running in third place. Ford officials had their eyes on a win for the team, not on a win for any particular pair of drivers. A win for Ford as a team was the primary mission.

The infamous staged finish to the 1966 race.

Opinions went back and forth during team discussions, but the decision ultimately rested with the leader of the team and Leo understood it was his responsibility. In an unpublished interview with noted automotive historian and author Dr. David Lewis, Leo said,“Ken Miles, who later died, regrettably didn’t win the race that year. I had some real difficulties over that. But, he was a daredevil and I pulled him in and literally engineered the end of that race—-one, two, three… I called Ken Miles in and held him back because I was afraid the drivers would knock one another off. All you need is one good accident and you lose all your investment.”

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When Studebaker was nearly saved by the world’s largest GM dealer – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


George Murphy was riding high in the mid-1960s. He owned a string of GM dealerships in Hawaii and California. He was named Hawaii’s Businessman of the Year in 1965. Time magazine profiled him less than a year later. And he’d just pocketed $15 million from turning around Honolulu Iron Works. The obvious next step for him then was to buy Studebaker just before it quit building cars.

To Murphy, it made perfect sense. The Saskatchewan native had been selling cars since he joined his father’s Chevrolet dealership in 1921. He later established his own Oldsmobile dealership in Honolulu in 1938, leveraging the success of that to buy into Aloha Chevrolet in 1940. His modus operandi, as he explained to the Wall Street Journal in 1940, consisted of buying “rundown, poor management companies” then turning them around, though during World War II he also found a successful scheme buying trucks in bulk then turning around and selling the trucks to the U.S. and Allied governments right when they needed trucks the most. Under his ownership, Aloha expanded by selling GM vehicles—including Holdens—all around the Pacific Rim, eventually becoming the largest General Motors dealership in the world.

Studebaker’s automotive division, meanwhile, had been in freefall. In 1963 alone, it lost more than $25 million, prompting the company—which had already started to diversify its holdings years prior—to close the South Bend, Indiana, plant and move production to Hamilton, Ontario. Murphy sensed an opportunity with Studebaker, so in February of 1966, after selling Honolulu Iron Works, he approached Studebaker chairman Randolph Guthrie with an offer to buy 500,000 shares of Studebaker stock—more than a sixth of the outstanding shares of common stock—at $30 per share, above market price. The offer came out of left field, according to a lawsuit between Studebaker and Allied Products, a Studebaker supplier that also entered in negotiations to buy the company immediately after Murphy’s offer. Studebaker’s board of directors appeared in favor of Murphy’s offer but ultimately left the decision up to the stockholders, who, by all indications, let the offer die on the vine. Guthrie, in turn, rejected Allied’s offer, and a month later Studebaker shut down the Hamilton assembly line, bringing an end to the company’s car making efforts

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Other Than the Aftermarket Radio, This 1966 Rambler Rebel Is Remarkably Preserved – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


The fact that this 1966 Rambler Rebel, listed for sale on Hemmings.com, is still around shouldn’t come as a surprise: Well-equipped or sporty versions of any car tend to have higher survival rates than the bare-bones models. Go to any AMC show, though, and you’re far more likely to see restored Rebels than you are ones left essentially untouched, like this example. That legendary straight-six is just getting broken in, with the odometer reporting 65,000 miles. The body shows some wear on the trunklid but no rust, and that interior might have suffered some sun fading but remains intact and clean. The only modification we can see is the addition of the modern radio and speakers. This nice Rambler shows how these cars were originally put together. From the seller’s description:

This Teal Rambler Rebel has a black vinyl hard top and Rambler hubcaps with teal accented wheels making this a cool Survivor Classic. This Rambler started its life at the Kenosha Wisconsin assembly plant as verified by the VIN. The original inline 6 with 3 speed automatic glides through the gears and is an original numbers matching survivor.

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This 1966 Mustang Rose Like A Phoenix From The Ashes: Video – Chris Teague @FordAuthority


Project car builds don’t always go as planned, but sometimes they go so far off the rails that it’s hard to imagine them ever being completed. “Off the rails” might be an understatement for this 1966 Mustang project, which started life as a completely different car than the one you see here.

As explained by SoCal-based pony enthusiast named Gee, his first 1966 Ford Mustang burnt down in an electrical fire while in the shop for a tune up. That car was almost a total loss, with the only part that could be salvaged being the engine.

Since the ‘Stang was a project car, it wasn’t insured for damaged caused by “electrical fire in a garage.” Luckily, Gee was able to recover enough from the car to purchase a second 1966 Mustang Coupe and used the 347 cubic-inch Stroker engine from the scorched model to power it.

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This unrestored 1966 Dodge Charger offers a unique experience – David Conwill @Hemmings


Plymouth folks are fond of telling you that Dodge stole every good thing Plymouth ever had. Whether that’s a fair assessment or not, it does put an interesting spin on the 1966 Dodge Charger.
In 1964, a few months before the Ford Mustang debuted, Plymouth brought out its own sporty compact. As the Mustang had its roots in the Falcon, Plymouth’s new Barracuda was based on the brand’s compact Valiant. While the Mustang used radically different bodywork from the Falcon, the Barracuda was essentially a new body style of Valiant, with a large glass fastback.
When Dodge dealers saw the success of the Barracuda, they clamored for their own sporty compact based on the Dart. In a rare act of defiance, the Chrysler board said no. Dodge would get a sporty, two-door fastback, but instead of being based on the Dart, it would use the midsize Coronet platform.

1966 Ford Mustang “Shelby GT350” Clone Packs Supercharged 302 Cobra V8 Surprise – Mircea Panait @Autoevolution


Mustangs have always been quick, powerful cars, with the notable exceptions of the underperforming models the Ford Motor Company sold during the Malaise Era. Some of the best-handling ponies from the Blue Oval feature motorsport-inspired mods from a Texas chicken farmer, a man you have certainly heard of before.

Thanks to Carroll Shelby, the Shelby GT350 rolled out in 1965 to much critical acclaim from both casual buyers and racers alike. In addition to the go-faster upgrades under the skin, the Shelby GT350 refused to blend in with the herd from a visual standpoint as well. This fellow here may not be an original car, but had he lived, Carroll would have certainly given his blessing.

What you’re looking at is a clone with Emberglow paint, four-corner disc brakes with slotted-and-drilled rotors, as well as a 302 Cobra. In addition to more displacement than the K-Code Windsor of the Shelby GT350, the 5.0-liter blunderbuss also features a Vortec supercharging kit.

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Making Things — One Man And His Mustang – Reblog


This is an excellent blog  from Mart please read and subscribe!

Today is my car’s birthday. This day fifty four years ago on the 11th July 1966 my car rolled off the Ford production line at Dearborn, Michigan. USA. Speaking of things being built, I was bought a model kit a while ago which was the LEGO GT500 kit, which I reviewed here. I thoroughly enjoyed […]

via Making Things — One Man And His Mustang