Junkyard Find: 1988 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • 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.

  • Mia Hey there!I recently stumbled upon the Crack Eraser DIY Windshield Repair Kit (check it out here: https://crackeraser.com/collections/diy-windshield-repair-kits) and decided to give it a shot on a small chip in my windshield. I have to say, it worked like a charm! Super easy to use, and it saved me a trip to the professionals. If you're dealing with a similar issue, this kit is definitely worth considering. 😊
  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.
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