1978 Toronado provenance

Old March 10th, 2019, 07:47 PM
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1978 Toronado provenance

I removed the rear seat bottom on my '78 Toro to do some rear speaker rewiring and found a broadcast card tucked under the springs. It's got rust marks, but it's pretty readable. It's been sitting under there since August of 1977, 42.5 years.

How it appears as you look at it. Kind of hard to read the numbers, but you can read the box headings.






But with the miracle of modern photo-editing software, I turned it into this. Now the numbers in the boxes can be read more easily. The only character I can't make out is the lowest one on the left, D __ 4. The middle character is totally obliterated by the rust mark left by the spring.





With the unenhanced image, you can read the headings above each of the boxes. In the enhanced image, you can read the letters and numbers actually in the boxes.


Compare to the cowl tag.






Here's the dealer invoice I obtained from the GM Heritage Center. We can do a little code matching.




First, off, on the broadcast card, upper left, in the box labed SEQ., it says 051. Any idea what that means? I presume it's short for SEQUENCE. 51st car built that day? 51st Toronado built that day? 51st Toronado built that year? Something else? I'm interested because the car's VIN serial number is so low at 700005, which suggests the 5th Toronado built for 1978.

The MO. And DAY of 08 16 matches the build date code on the cowl tag of 08C meaning third week of August. The 16th would be during the third week. Note the ship date on the invoice, 9/14/77, almost a month after the date of this card. Anyone know how far in advance of a car's actual construction the broadcast card was created? Same day? Day before? Week before?

The STYLE of 3EW57 matches the cowl tag. 3 = Oldsmobile, E = body designation (shared with the Eldorado), W = ?, 57 = 2-door coupe.

PLT. OPT 16 is A01. No idea what that is.

Body number 202084 matches the cowl tag. How does a car built very early in the production year have a body number of over 200,000? Apparently they weren't numbered sequentially.

TRIM COMB. of 742 matches the cowl tag. 74 = dark carmine color (sort of a dark maroon) interior. The 2 means leather seats.

LWR and TOP UPR paint colors of 79 are on the cowl tag as well and indicated dark carmine again. The next box is "AC'T" and says "T". Accent? There is also a T to the right of the second 79 on the cowl tag. What accent? The vinyl roof? My car does have one, and it's the same color as the car.

At the far upper right is a 2 in the PP box and an S in the TYPE box. No idea on those.

Going along the 1ST CARD row, in box 1, is AM6, which is also one of the two codes on the cowl tag. It doesn't appear on the invoice. I have the dealer showroom album, and AM6 doesn't appear for any of the option codes.

In box 3 it says 74X. Same story as for the AM6. It's on the cowl tag, but It doesn't appear on the invoice nor in the dealer album. I've never been able to figure out what either of these codes mean.

Box 6 says A31. That doesn't appear on the cowl tag, the invoice, nor the dealer album. No idea.

Box 7 is AG2. That's on the invoice. Passenger side power seat. Interesting that that's on the broadcast card, but AG1, driver's side power seat, isn't.

Box 8 is AU5, power door locks and power seat back release.

In the next row, the first two boxes (12 and 13) are titled COPO-F & SO. "Central office process order" or something like that? What's the F? SO is possibly "special order?" The first code can't be read fully as that's the one with the rust mark. There are two codes on the invoice that start with D and end with 4. D64 is illuminated visor mirror and D24 is the litter container. Those seem rather mundane options for requiring a special order to get them. I'm also surprised that Olds didn't just include a litter container in the car's base price. This is a Toronado, after all. It should come with a few basic amenities as standard equipment. But they made buyers fork over an extra $8 on a $10,000 car to get a litter basket.

In box 13 is D66, remote driver's outside mirror with thermometer. The car still has the thermometer, and it still works.

The next two boxes, 14 and 15, have IDENT. NO. above them. "Identification number?" Identifying what? In box 15 is C49, which is on the invoice, electric rear window defogger.

And that's it on the options. Lots of empty boxes, yet the car has many more options.
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Old March 10th, 2019, 07:58 PM
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Built August 16, 1977, that's the day Elvis died. My thought on why it took a month to ship is that the 78 model year hadn't been announced yet, and they probably stockpiled cars and then shipped them when it was time. Maybe the T next to the top's paint code is for the half top. Was it possible to have three colors coded on the tag? Body color, painted top color, half vinyl top color?
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Old March 11th, 2019, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by slantflat View Post
My thought on why it took a month to ship is that the 78 model year hadn't been announced yet, and they probably stockpiled cars and then shipped them when it was time.
I would bet you're right.

Originally Posted by slantflat View Post
Maybe the T next to the top's paint code is for the half top. Was it possible to have three colors coded on the tag? Body color, painted top color, half vinyl top color?
I have seen Toros of this vintage where the vinyl top portion of the top is a different color from the rest of the car.

Here's one. It would be interesting to see the cowl tag paint codes on this car.




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Old March 11th, 2019, 12:48 PM
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I never could see the rhyme or reason as to what went on the broadcast card. Especially when it was an item that was standard equipment. It must have been for some internal use somehow. Maybe someone who worked in the plant back then can chime in and provide more clarification. You asked about 3 codes:
A01 was tinted windows, and that did appear on the invoice that you posted
A31 was power windows, which were standard equipment
AM6 was used at one time to designate a split bench seat, which was also standard equipment

Sorry, but I can't help you with the rest.

Last edited by Jon442; March 11th, 2019 at 12:50 PM.
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Old March 11th, 2019, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Jon442 View Post
AM6 was used at one time to designate a split bench seat, which was also standard equipment
The car does have this. Power on both sides, each with their own controls.

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Old March 11th, 2019, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jaunty75 View Post

Anyone know how far in advance of a car's actual construction the broadcast card was created? Same day? Day before? Week before? Same day as FBW started cobbling it together

The STYLE of 3EW57 matches the cowl tag. 3 = Oldsmobile, E = body designation (shared with the Eldorado), W = ?, 57 = 2-door coupe. Hahaha, show me a 4 door Toronado....

PLT. OPT 16 is A01. No idea what that is. Tinted glass front, side and rear

Body number 202084 matches the cowl tag. How does a car built very early in the production year have a body number of over 200,000? Apparently they weren't numbered sequentially. yes they were. Remember that the basic body style for these cars remains the same from 1971-1978. BUT there's slight changes that occurred in 73 due to bumpers and reinforcements, so if you add all the bodies built from 73 - end of 77, you'd get close to 200,000 and that's really consistent with your build. Just for giggles I googled those production numbers and tallied them and this appears to be spot on.

LWR and TOP UPR paint colors of 79 are on the cowl tag as well and indicated dark carmine again. The next box is "AC'T" and says "T". Accent? There is also a T to the right of the second 79 on the cowl tag. What accent? The vinyl roof? My car does have one, and it's the same color as the car. T- Toronado exterior moldings and trim. Special roof line for the XS

At the far upper right is a 2 in the PP box and an S in the TYPE box. No idea on those. 2 is a common number in these boxes. Mine has it too. S is likely a 'Special Order"?? Just guessing though

Going along the 1ST CARD row, in box 1, is AM6, which is also one of the two codes on the cowl tag. It doesn't appear on the invoice. I have the dealer showroom album, and AM6 doesn't appear for any of the option codes.AM6 : SEAT, FRT SPLIT, 3 PASS, CTR ARM REST. This is clearly listed on the master list of GM RPO's

In box 3 it says 74X. Same story as for the AM6. It's on the cowl tag, but It doesn't appear on the invoice nor in the dealer album. I've never been able to figure out what either of these codes mean.Related to the top color and trim for the XS model.

Box 6 says A31. That doesn't appear on the cowl tag, the invoice, nor the dealer album. No idea. A31 : WINDOW, POWER OPERATED, ALL DOORS

Box 7 is AG2. That's on the invoice. Passenger side power seat. Interesting that that's on the broadcast card, but AG1, driver's side power seat, isn't. AG1 : ADJUSTER, FRT ST, POWER, 6 WAY DRIVER, SPLIT BENCH. AG2 : ADJUSTER, PASS ST POWER, 6 WAY, SPLIT BENCH. Don't overdo this, not everything that FBW put on the car has room on the Cowl tag. Suffice to say it's on the invoice.

In the next row, the first two boxes (12 and 13) are titled COPO-F & SO. "Central office process order" or something like that? Very Close - Central Office Production Order. F&SO indicates Special order. The F is likely a Customer order rather than a dealer order.

There are two codes on the invoice that start with D and end with 4. D64 is illuminated visor mirror and D24 is the litter container. Those seem rather mundane options for requiring a special order to get them. I'm also surprised that Olds didn't just include a litter container in the car's base price. This is a Toronado, after all. It should come with a few basic amenities as standard equipment. But they made buyers fork over an extra $8 on a $10,000 car to get a litter basket. While I agree with you about what should be standard on such a high priced car, surprise surprise surprise. Even the Ninety Eights didn't come with loaded options - they had to be ordered to flush out the car. Even the top line Ninety Eights had surprisingly little options. That's why you see some of thse cars popping up with manual seat adjustment, manual windows, door locks, no power trunk etc. I also have advocated in the past that this 'cheap' approach to optioning the cars is one of the reason Olds lost out big time in the B/C and Euclid body production.

The next two boxes, 14 and 15, have IDENT. NO. above them. "Identification number?" Identifying what? In box 15 is C49, which is on the invoice, electric rear window defogger.

And that's it on the options. Lots of empty boxes, yet the car has many more options.Again, you're expecting miracles out of the Broadcast card. The invoice has the complete listing you want. Sometimes these cars had more than one broadcast card, with different line items on them too. Have you looked under the passenger seat to see if it has another broadcast card?
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Old March 11th, 2019, 08:41 PM
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Thanks for the info, Allan.

In response to some of your comments, I agree about the lack of standard equipment in the big cars, but the '78 Toros did come standard with a few things that one usually thought of as optional at that time. Standard was the base, 4-season air-conditioning, electric digital clock, cornering lamps, remote outside driver's mirror, AM/FM stereo radio, and power windows. The same-year 98 did not come standard with air-conditioning, radio (of any kind), or cornering lamps, but it did include the others. Other interior amenities were standard, like carpeting, ash trays, and cigar lighter, so why not throw in an $8 litter basket, too?

I'm not expecting miracles out of the broadcast card. I would expect every option to appear on the invoice, but I wouldn't expect the invoice to travel with the car down the assembly line like I would the broadcast card or build sheet. So why put just SOME of the options on the broadcast card but not others, especially closely-related others (like listing a code for the passenger side power seat but not the driver's side), and especially when there's plenty of unused spaces to do so? I did look under the passenger seat at your suggestion, but I didn't see another card. It's difficult to see everywhere under there or under the driver's side because of all the power seat electronics. To really be sure that there is no paperwork under there, I'd have to remove the seats, which I don't want to do unless there's some other reason to do so.

Now let's look at the A31 code. Why list that at all? As I noted above, power windows were standard equipment on the Toronado. So EVERY Toro that went down the line would get power windows installed. So why call it out as though the assembly line workers needed to be told that this particular Toronado gets power windows? They didn't need to put codes for the front fenders or rear bumpers on the broadcast card to tell the workers to put those on every car. So we have missing codes that you would think would be there, and we have codes that seem unnecessary and bring to mind the word "duh."
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Old March 12th, 2019, 07:06 AM
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Dan, I understand your confusion about the coding. It's not like the 64-67 models where there was a 'group' number with a single letter code for the options. I agree there's no rhyme or reason to the information that's on the broadcast card or cowl tag (to a degree). It was common place to identify the type of seat on the cowl tag in earlier year production, but not much else so the great mystery of the past continues.

Interestingly enough, I did test drive a 78 Toronado which was exactly like the picture you posted. To be honest I was a lot underwhelmed by its performance. Yes, a nice riding car and very comfortable but it just didn't have any ooomph to it. I do like the XS styling cues much better. One thing I didn't like about the Toronado is the somewhat compromised trunk space for such a large car. By 1978 the 'look' of the front and back of the car had a nicely polished look which mimicked the Cadillac much more. Did you by chance notice how the 78 full size brochure skimps a lot on Toronado as compared to previous years? Even the 79 full size brochure features the (IMO) somewhat ugly downsize Toro exclusively on the front cover.
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Old March 12th, 2019, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Allan R View Post
Interestingly enough, I did test drive a 78 Toronado which was exactly like the picture you posted. To be honest I was a lot underwhelmed by its performance. Yes, a nice riding car and very comfortable but it just didn't have any ooomph to it. I do like the XS styling cues much better. One thing I didn't like about the Toronado is the somewhat compromised trunk space for such a large car. By 1978 the 'look' of the front and back of the car had a nicely polished look which mimicked the Cadillac much more. Did you by chance notice how the 78 full size brochure skimps a lot on Toronado as compared to previous years? Even the 79 full size brochure features the (IMO) somewhat ugly downsize Toro exclusively on the front cover.'
I do find the acceleration adequate. I have no trouble getting up to speed on highways. The Toronado was not meant as a performance car, but rather a personal luxury boat. I think it fulfills that well.

I agree about the trunk space. These were "long hood, short deck" cars, right? Styling meant more than practicality. But that full-size spare tire in the truck does take up a fair amount of space.

I do agree strongly about the focus of Oldsmobile's advertising in these years. The last couple of years of the second generation Toros got considerably less attention and brochure/ad space than they did in previous years. Not sure why. Olds wasn't planning to discontinue the model as they planned the third generation for 1979. Maybe they figured that, with the gas shortage-plagued '70s underway and the not very good mileage of these leftover dinosaurs, it was better to hold their advertising budget until they could start bragging about a newly-designed, downsized, gets-better-gas-mileage personal luxury car. The B and C bodies went first in 1977, the A bodies were next in 1978, and the E-body Toro and Eldorado finally followed in 1979. But for the last two years of the second generation, the Toros were old news, body size and styling wise. The XS (and, for a short while, the XSR) package was meant to spur interest in the model. The Toros as a whole sold pretty well for '77 and '78 compared to previous years, but the XS package never accounted for more than about 10% of sales both years.
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Old March 12th, 2019, 08:33 AM
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Yes, acceleration was adequate. I was just expecting more. It was about as fast as my 73 Custom Cruiser but I'm sure not quite as thirsty. re: The XSR. I've never seen one except in that famous P51 picture, and from what I understand none were actually produced for the consumer market. They don't even get a sniff in the product information guides either. I do love the B/C cars; mostly because I enjoyed driving sofas down the highway and arriving in style They always got me to my destination feeling considerably less tired than other models. In 1985 a local dealer offered me 13K for my 83 Regency Brougham as trade on an 84 Cadillac Sedan 'd Elegance Brougham. The car was really sweet, but what soured my interest was the notorious 8-6-4 engine. The asking price on the Caddy? 14,5K I'm glad I kept the Ninety Eight even though it had that 307 and weak 200 4R from the factory. After replacing the sun and planetary gears though with the upgraded ones, it ran flawlessly to the end of my ownership.

1972/73 seem to be the highlight of Toro production with numbers falling off significantly thereafter. I'm a little surprised that you claim Toros sold pretty well for 77/78 as those production numbers really fell off. Perhaps you're suggesting that of all the Toros produced in those years they were not hard to sell? Possibly that's because of the change to 403 engine from the thirstier 455 of previous years.
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Old March 12th, 2019, 09:01 AM
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Toro production held reasonably constant through 1978. 1978 was higher than 1976 or 1975, and 1977 was the third highest of the 8-year second generation. So, yes, I'd say that Toronados sold pretty well for '77 and '78. Not like hotcakes, but then Toro sales were never like hotcakes.

1971: 28,980
1972: 48,900
1973: 55,921
1974: 27,582
1975: 23,301
1976: 24,304
1977: 34,084 (2,713 were XS)
1978: 24,885 (2,453 were XS)

1973 was the high water mark for Toronado production for any year of the entire 1966 to 1992 run, so that's almost an anomaly. If wonder if sales rose dramatically for 1977 because a certain fraction of Oldsmobile big-car buyers didn't like the downsized 88s and 98s and decided that, if they wanted to stay with Oldsmobile, their only option was a Toro.

Looking at the first generation, in spite of those cars getting most of the Toronado attention now, they didn't sell any better than the second generations. The first year, '66, sales were about 40,000. But that dropped by almost half for 1967 to about 22,000. For '68, '69, and '70, sales hovered right around the 25,000 mark each year, about the same as most of the second-gen model years.
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Old May 15th, 2019, 06:18 AM
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Hi

I have a 1974 Custom Coupe. I would like to get more info from the GM Heritage Center. Did you send them a mail?


-Glenn
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Old May 15th, 2019, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Panda81 View Post
I have a 1974 Custom Coupe. I would like to get more info from the GM Heritage Center. Did you send them a mail?
I did it all at their website. You can request information right there.

But if I were you, I wouldn't bother. Oldsmobile is infamous for the fact that it did not keep records like I showed above for my car until the 1977 model year. For your car, all they would have would be the same information you can find in the dealer showroom brochure plus general production figures (number built, engine specs, base price, dimensions and weight) that you can find in other references, including
Setting the Pace. Setting the Pace.


They will not have a dealer invoice like they did for my car, and that's the only thing, in my opinion, that's worth the $50.
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