Oldsmobile’s Toronado debuted in autumn of 1966 as America’s first post-war front wheel drive automobile. Just a year later CBS Television introduced a new prime-time detective series; Mannix, featuring Mike Connors as Joe Mannix, an operative of the sophisticated Intertect Detective Agency in Los Angeles.
While Joe had a variety of company cars at his disposal, his personal daily driver was a 1967 Toronado modified by George Barris.
The use of customized cars was somewhat of a trend in 1960s Hollywood, occasionally in film and frequently in television.
The front of the Mannix Toronado featured a pair of slender vertical bumperettes, between which was a grill surrounded by a wraparound bumper. In lieu of the standard Toronado’s retractable headlamps, fixed rectangular lamps were set into the grille.
When the 1970 Toronado was unveiled in the fall of 1969, the front end bore an uncanny resemblance to the two-year old Mannix Roadster: vertical bumperettes, a near identically shaped grill opening; and for the first time on a Toronado, exposed fixed-position headlamps. The major difference was that Oldsmobile designers had to settle for round quad lighting units. It would be another five years before rectangular lamps would be allowed in the U.S.
Imitation: a most sincere form of flattery.