Junkyard Find: 1988 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1988 oldsmobile toronado trofeo

The General spent the 1980s experiencing a burning desire to sell high-profit-margin personal luxury coupes that combined the irresistible sales appeal of the 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with the technological sophistication of the latest high-end German machinery. This decade gave us such fascinating GM machines as the Cadillac Allanté, the Buick Reatta, the Pontiac 6000 STE, and the Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo. You won’t find many Troféos today, but I’m always on the lookout during my junkyard travels. Here’s a clean ’88 in a Denver-area self-serve yard.

Because I’m somewhat obsessed with these cars, I’ve managed to find a few junked examples over the years, including this ’88, this ’89, this ’89, this ’90, and this ’92. The Troféo hasn’t retained much value at age 30+, so it takes a real devotee to keep one on the road.

This one appears to have been a well-cared-for car, with clean interior and nice paint. A fender-bending incident involving the right rear knocked its value to scrap levels in an instant, though, and we can assume that this bent metal is the reason the car ended up in this sad place.

The owner’s manual, Oldsmobile Road Atlas, and original salesman’s calling cards were still in the glovebox, suggesting that this may have been a one-owner car. Sold in Pennsylvania, crushed in Colorado.

This car once had GM’s futuristic touchscreen-based Graphics Control Center (optional in Rivieras, Reattas, and Troféos), a feature that no European or Japanese car could match in 1988. Someone grabbed the touchscreen (which was adapted from hardware used in late-1980s ATMs and ran on 120 volts AC provided by a power supply bolted to the firewall), but left behind most of the remaining hardware associated with the GCC.

Unfortunately, the effect of dropping such science-fictiony stuff into the dashboard got undercut by the primitive pushrod V6 driving the front wheels, at a time when BMW and Mercedes-Benz had been running overhead-cam engines for decades. The young, tech-savvy target audience for flashy European-style sporty coupes didn’t get very enthusiastic about the ancient running gear in the Troféo, and most of the older Oldsmobile shoppers didn’t want to squander their pensions on confusingly newfangled gizmos. The lack of an available manual transmission weakened the car’s high-performance image as well, though the Full Slushboxization of the American driving public was well underway by 1988.

Still, it’s a good-looking car, with some of the design touches that once made Oldsmobile the Youngmobile.

Deborah Moore, daughter of Roger Moore, did some secret-agent-type stuff with the Troféo for 1989.

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3 of 54 comments
  • SoCalMikester SoCalMikester on Jul 22, 2019

    Frank D. Trabucco, 86, of Delmont, died Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. He was born March 20, 1932, in Export, a son of the late Dessee and Elizabeth (Dimuzio) Trabucco. Frank was a car salesman for Watson Chevrolet for 60 years. same job for 60 years. you dont see that too often!

    • SoCalMikester SoCalMikester on Jul 22, 2019

      his house just sold in june for $130k, and he kept the same home phone number since the 80s. nice looking house in a nice looking suburban area. malibu maxx in the driveway, too.

  • Millmech Millmech on Jul 22, 2019

    SAAB 99 had engine in backwards. Automatic trans had Morse Hy-Vo chain driving transmission. Backwards from Toronado, with chain in the rear, engine mounted regular way. No driveshafts through any oil pans. Haven't seen a SAAB 99 for years.

  • SCE to AUX Love it, and the price is a bargain, actually. The clean exterior is nice.Also, this caught my attention: "105mm throttle body"... that's a lot of air flow.
  • Tassos I predict this will be a big hit and conquer new markets. Housewives will be lining up to grab them, and the dealers will charge $200k a unit. Why? Because they already buy SUVs and crossovers they never needed, which have much less interior space than their minivans. So they will sacrifice a bit more of that space, but at least they will not drive identical looking crossovers with their accursed neighbor's wife.I also predict the Tesla Plaid and even lesses Teslas will beat the living daylights of this idiotic vehicle, and without even breaking a sweat.
  • Bobbysirhan I fully expect to be reading about the last-of-the-line Challenger Demon 170 Redeye Widebody three years from now.
  • Dougjp Finally, luxury/strong performance in a compact size car. Unlike the Civic R, the market for this segment has predominantly automatics buyers. Yet year after year, it appears Acura can't make such a car. They did have a 10 speed with torque (Accord), which counters the thought that they can't make a torque capable automatic.Oh well, look elsewhere I guess.
  • Analoggrotto The real question, how many years or months after the end of production will this vehicle be completely eliminated from the street? Neon lights, yellow spoiler covers, idiotic stripes, brazzers license plate frames, obnoxious exhausts and all.