1967 Oldsmobile Mannix Tornado Roadster
425 cid V-8 engine
Turbo-Hydramatic three-speed automatic transmission
Independent front suspension with transverse links
Crime, drama, and cars have always gone hand-in-hand, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned. Whether it was Tom Selleck pounding the pavement in his Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS as “Magnum PI” or Bruce Wayne driving the Batmobile, the secret to success for a Hollywood crime drama was a good detective and a great car. Such was the case in 1967 when Desilu productions cast Mike Conners as “Joe Mannix,” a hardnosed detective who worked for a detective agency called Intertech, a company that employed the use of a new thing called a computer to help solve crimes. The show got off to a rocky start, but Desilu’s owner Lucille Ball thought the show had potential. She took out the computers and Mannix’s mundane Mercury Comet and then put him behind the wheel of an Oldsmobile Toronado customized by George Barris. With the computers gone and Mannix now behind the wheel of a flashy roadster, the stage was now set for eight successful seasons as millions of Americans tuned in every week to watch the crime fighting antics of one of television’s most successful crime shows.
Considered by many to be one of Barris’s finest work, it set the pace for success of the show. Barris was hired to create the Mannix Roadster in 1967 when he took delivery of a brand-new Oldsmobile Toronado. Introduced by General Motors for the 1966 model year, the Toronado was aimed squarely at the Buick Riviera and Ford Thunderbird as a personal luxury car but used a unique front-wheel drive platform. Barris went to work by cutting the roof off and then replacing the back seat with a custom made tonneau cover that turned the Toronado into a two-seater roadster.
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