When it came to American cars in 1970, size mattered and the bigger the better. The heavy, powerful machines carved up thousands of miles of American roadway from coast to coast, and the Toronado was known for its ride and powerful drive train, if not for its fuel efficiency. Not to be confused with Ford’s Grand Torino, of Starsky and Hutch fame, the Toronado was a luxury sedan that had many features in common with Cadillacs of the era.
A side view of the low profile Toronado motor home hybrid.
Rear view featuring two classic landscape tire covers.
This well known family sedan had a lesser known cousin that was a bit of a Frankenstein blend between land yacht and motorhome that looked roughly akin to an El Camino with a pickup top camper on the back. The one-of-a-kind Toronado GT RV conversion was built for a retired RV executive to tour in.
Built for a retired RV exec, the Toronado has full amenities.
The forward thinking design of the camper shell would later appear from 1973 – 1978 in the GMC motorhome lineup and is fondly remembered for its “spaceship” design. While it may seem antiquated to us here in the 21st Century, the front wheel drive and low profile was a revolutionary design at the time that pointed to things to come!
Classic 70s GM lines and styling.
This GMC classic featured a Cadillac front wheel drive transaxle, and a huge 455 cubic inch V8 that must have gotten about 10 gallons to the mile with the added weight and wind resistance of the big hollow camper shell up top.
A double bed over the cab of the Toronado sleeps two adults.
For you vintage RV aficianados looking for something to restore, bear this bit of trivia in mind: GMC motorhome designers were under a mandate to use as many corrosive resistant materials in their RV shells as possible, both to promote longevity and to reduce weight. So, keep your eyes open for the classic GMCs since they are among the best candidates for restoration.
This same camper shell profile graced GMC motor homes from ’73-’78.
The car was recently sold on eBay, although we could not find the actual sale price, the “buy now” tag was set at $15,000 which was probably a steal, considering the original vehicle only had 68,000 miles on it. The gas hog 455 had been replaced with a new Chevy shortblock just 4000 miles before it was put up for sale.
Convertible dinette and passage into the Toronado’s cab.
While the drive train is rugged, the interior of the camper itself is not short on amenities. It features a bathroom with a shower, a kitchen with a large sink and and room for a stove and fridge, which are currently original. It also has a decently sized wardrobe closet and enough room to sleep up to a family of four, or three adults comfortably.
Classic 70s interior featuring white leather and wood grains.
The bunks are situated over the cab and a dinette converts to sleep one adult or two children. The large windows on the sides and front give the interior an airy, roomy feel and the roof skylights allow for even more natural light, or night time star gazing.
Classic front view featuring “spaceship” front glass and custom tag.
The main entrance is found on the passenger side wall, while the kitchen and bath take up the rear, making the space as open as possible for the size. In the RVs cabin, luxurious white leather seats and coffee colored accents give this baby a fresh hip look that would make Mike and Carol Brady proud to park it in the driveway of their split level suburban home.