Dave North was Studio Chief in the mid 1980s when I was in Oldsmobile II Studio, and Ed Welburn his assistant. Dave was involved with the design of the 1966 Tornado. One example of this car that has gotten a lot of attention is the one that Jay Leno restored. Actually the car is a resto-mod. Looks stock on the outside—but there stock abruptly ends.

According to Dave, “Jay got a hold of me and invited my son and me to the NBC studios and a day at his “Big Dog” garage in Burbank. He has a very spectacular collection of cars. He had a wall of photos of me working on the Toro that he got from Ed Welburn. He is a real enthusiast and nice guy.”



David North with Jay Leno

David North with Jay Leno


David North in Oldsmobile Studio in the early ’60s.


This isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile.

  1. The second video is fun, but the accounts I’ve heard, in Bill Mitchell’s 1985 interview with Dave Crippen, indicate that the building-up-the-other-fin trick was something that Mitchell did to Jack Gordon on the original ’48 Cadillac design, not the ’59s. Mitchell said:

    “Well, Gordon never liked them, and he’d sit in the wastebasket in the studio, and he was head of Cadillac, and Cole was chief engineer. Cole and I wanted to raise him, and we pulled a trick on him. We took the drawing, and instead of saying we’d raise the other drawing every day, and it looked like we were lowering it. And, Gordon heard of that later. He said, ‘You bastards you.’”


    I wonder which version is true….

  2. Keith

    Hi David North,

    I recently purchased a 1952 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 Convertible, the most beautiful tail section ever created.

    Can you tell me who was responsible for the design and detail of that beautiful rear fender, side chrome accent piece, and elegant rocket stylized chrome tail light?
    The trim on the door handle matches the chrome indents detail on the tail light, just before it merges with the red rocket exhaust tail light.
    Than that stunning oversized Shamuu type trunk lid, that rises, bulges, and protrudes between the twin rocket tail lights. Breathtaking !!

    Anything you could add about how he or she came up with the design, would be very helpful. It is truly a work of art, and a Masterpiece.

    As I stated, its the most beautiful designed tail section of any car, any year, any country.


  3. David R.North

    Keith. That was way before my time as Olds Chief Designer!
    I also had a 52 Hot-Rod Olds with a Cadillac Motor when I Was in High school in Montana. A good Friend just paid $50,000.00
    For a 52Olds88 . Loved that car when a kid. I sold mine for $250.00

  4. David R.North

    Keith,the only name I came up with is Art Ross,who was Olds
    Studio chief. You might try Orv Selders who is our “go to guy”
    For info on design facts.

  5. Bob Joiner


    Do you know who was the designer for the 1970 Olds Delta Eighty Eight Royale Coupe and the 1970 442?


  6. Steven Wilen

    Dave North is a fraud. Stanley Wilen designed the toronado.

  7. Steven, there is no need for hateful language on Deans Garage. This is not Facebook but a respectful forum for professional designers. If you believe that Stan designed the car, then state your opinion and back it up with facts. Anyone who knows Dave North knows him to be a man of integrity (and freely shares the accolades with others who were involved with the Toro, including Stan). Having been there at the time, Dave’s initial sketches and the Flame Red airbrush were the genesis of the car. But it takes a team of designers and a studio manager to complete the design. The final word and design responsibility was Bill Mitchell (without whom this car would not exsist). Roy

  8. David north

    Thanks Roy,Steve should talk to his mother in Florida!
    Stan wrote me an Email just before he died, David some
    Guy is writing a book about your Toro design,
    “Stan your ground, and plant your flag” ,I will always back you,

  9. David north

    That is Chuck Masion with me touching up my “red Rendering”
    To be used in mag story, Masion was a great friend, and died
    Way too early,

  10. David north

    Just learned another valued member of the Toronado
    Designers Frank Munoz has died! Great friend and multi
    Talented. Beside his art and design skills Frank was a jazz

  11. Adam


    I love your Toronado design, but was also curious who designed the full size Olds cars during the mid/late 60s era and who was the studio chief?

  12. David R North


    Stan Wilen was chief designer for Oldsmobile in 1960s, I was his assistant until 1964 when I was promoted to Assistant Chief Designer in Cadillac Studio to work on FWD Cadillac Eldorado for 1967.

    Stan was later promoted to head Cadillac studio, and then Director of Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile studios.

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