The Ideal Hell Bus

Q: Why did Helen Keller’s dog kill itself? 
A: You would too, if your name was “mmmmrrrrggghhh!”

Now that you’ve laughed at this incredibly offensive joke, you’ll be headed straight to hell. And what better way to travel to an eternity of fire and brimstone than in this?

Hard to imagine now, what with its parent company gone to that great used-car lot in the sky, but the Oldsmobile Toronado was one of the most innovative automobiles ever produced. Touted as “proof of Oldsmobile engineering leadership,” FWD was the wave of the future, and the Rocket Division was proudly leading the charge. Forcing the front wheels to cope with a massive 425 cu. in. V8 and a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic transmission on 17 feet of “personal luxury” might seem downright suicidal today, but in 1966 it was called American ingenuity, dammit! After all, what would those know-it-all GM engineers think would be more appropriate? A wimpy Saab Viggen motor or something?
GM made sure to get it right the first time, spending 7 years overengineering the bejezus out of its unique platform before presenting it as the company’s technological masterpiece. Coupled with its packaging efficiency and ease of assembly, the Toronado was an easy choice for all sorts of wacky platform-sharing, such as GMC’s Motorhome and, well, this.

Looking like the unholy combination of a flathead trout and a meatpacking plant, this would be the inspiringly-named AQC Jetway 707: a six-wheeled, 25-windowed beast designed to ferry lower-level accountants from Mississauga, Ontario to their awaiting TWA flights for corporate planning initiatives. Think your stretched-out Town Car limo you rented out for prom was something special? This could seat 12 to 15 jaded airline passengers, whisking them across the tarmac in relative driveshaft-free comfort. It was the “limousine of tomorrow” in 1968, with enough room to reenact the naumachia of Augustus within its eight (yes, count ‘em, eight) doors.

Built by Cotner & Bevington, it was the first in a series of Oldsmobile professional cars with hearses, ambulances, funeral cars and more conventional limousines planned to follow. Unfortunately, sales of the oddball Jetway tanked with only 52 built, and the enterprise was soon shuttered.
I can’t imagine why, though. What a great family truckster this could have been! The Jackson Five’s custom Cadillac wagon has got nothing on this: it didn’t even have twin rear axles. Turn the back into a rumpus room and fill it up with brightly-colored plastic balls, or a bunkbed, or a slot car track—it almost makes headrest-mounted DVD players look passé. Who needs Stow-N’-Go? If Jon and Kate had one of these for their Plus 8, then its inherent coolness could almost make up for Jon’s current status as the most worthless mouth-breathing shit stain on the planet.

And it still looks better than a BMW X6.
Sadly, there’s a greater chance of witnessing Batboy riding a Chinese satellite across the troposphere than seeing one of these on the road. But today it would serve rather well as our metaphorical Bus to Hell, ferrying passengers to the underworld rather than to a mind-numbing flight out of LaGuardia: a mission not far removed from its original purpose. Could it be any surprise that the preferred ride to an eternity of damnation is via public transportation?
[Pictures from: Flickr (1, 2), Dave’s Classic Limousine Pictures]

22 Comments

  1. think of the joy of restoring one.. and lining up all those doors for perfect gaps….. that hell alone would be well worth it for the awesomeness that would ensue

    1. right.. forgot to mention that i love bad jokes (both lame jokes & those in bad taste).. thanks for the helen keller joke… i know a lot of them.. but won't share….

    2. Not to mention that every single airport limo I ever find on craigslist is usually rusted to oblivion. It's like everyone bought them up 30 years ago and promptly left them out in the field to rot. And parts? forget it. Still awesome though.

  2. Perhaps the wildest Toro offshoot was the Hurst Hairy Olds, which was a '66 4-4-2 with two Toronado drivetrains, turning it into a 4WD dragstrip special. Crazy…
    There is a persistent rumor that at some point late in the Toronado's development history, GM discovered that Ford had patented the split torque converter layout several years earlier, forcing Olds and Cadillac to pay royalties to Ford. I'm still not certain that's true, although Ford engineer Fred Hooven did strongly advocate a similar FWD setup for the 1961 Thunderbird. Hooven once wrote a memo saying that if FWD were the norm and he were to write a proposal outlining the pros and cons of RWD, it would be laughed off as absurd.
    The origins of the Toronado:http://ateupwithmotor.com/luxury-and-personal-lux

  3. This is the unholy union between the '69 Toronado we had as a kid and a Vista Cruiser, two of my favorite cars. Awesome. The only mega wagon that comes close to this is the Checker Aerobus.

    1. Sorry I've never seen a 69 Jetway mine's the white one in the two pictures and it's a 68.

  4. What, nobody? "Long Oldsmobile is loooooooong." One O for each door, naturally.
    I would actually really love a two- or four-door, two-axle version of this. More practical, if I'm honest, and nearly as cool.

  5. Just imagine a fully loaded one pulling up to a traffic light and doing an eight doored Chinese fire drill.

  6. Could you imagine the pain in the ass this would be to tint!?! How many windows?? Goddamn 25! If someone pulled up in this at my tint-shop, I would tell them to get some Krylon.

  7. 1) I'd would buy one of these, they are awesome.
    2) Weekly World News reference! Can you imagine their staff-"we need to fill a couple pages, let's photoshop batboy going to a starbucks and call it a day"

  8. There used to be one of these parked outside a nightclub in the late 80's-early 90's. When the club opened, they used to drive it around, but a few years later it stayed parked in front on flat tires, and one of the windows was broken out. It had 5 rows of seating (15 passengers), exposed headlights, and a roof rack. I think the skylight windows did not go all the way back–more like the blue car in the top picture than the white car two pictures down.

  9. This website is impressive I am gonna put this in the bookmarks before I lose the address I don’t think I’ll ever make it back again otherwise!

  10. Built by Cotner Bevington, really? Maybe its time to get the facts since you even mentioned it in the writing, AND posted a factory sales picture that had the coachbuilder on it. To make it easy for you its AQC= American Quality Coach. Yes, this company was formed by the founders of C/B, but they are NOT the same company.

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