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.

  13. Steven Wilen

    Dave North did not design the 66 Toronado. The little he did contribute was directed by Stan Wilen. Stan’s black sketch predates the red rendering.

    Dick Ruzzin was a designer in the studio for the entire design of the ’66 Toronado. Dick exposes North’s inaccurate story in an article entitled “The Art of the Automobile” published by Old Cars Weekly.

    Look for the 2025 hardcover publication by Veloce. This may be the most detailed accounting about the design of a car EVER!

  14. DAVE,
    Frank sent me an email that he was very upset that you claimed authorship of the design of the Toronado without giving anyone else in the studio credit. He found that terrible. I still have it. Stan Wilen should get credit for the design. It was his responsibility and he contributed more than anyone.

    Stan Wilen was responsible for the design. He gave you direction for the sketch that you did for the front. Other than that, your participation in the design was minimal. You were the assistant, chief designer, and did as expected, busy with work on the Delta 88 and 98..
    By the way, you just don’t remember things correctly. Frank was not a jazz guitarist. He played the trumpet and we all went to see him play many times, including you and your wife Pat. I don’t know how you can confuse a guitar with a trumpet.

    The story that you read on the OldCars.com website is a story for publication on the Internet. It is the shortest version.
    Apparently, Oldsmobile felt that they had an opportunity for publicity because the design was so unique. The Eldorado. was coming the following year and the Riviera was a descendent of the previous car. So the Toronado story would be of fresh interest to the press. The story given to the GM press people by Bill Mitchell was made up or altered, it does not make sense. Nothing was ever done in the advance studio before we started the car in Oldsmobile studio. That was false. Also, you do not mention the scale model in Chuck Jordan’s office that we were all asked to go and take a look at. That’s where the front fender came and a suggestion of the body side wheel flares.

    The red rendering that you made with Don does not have the big wheel flares on it. Don Logerquist is the one who should get the greatest credit because he’s the one that came up with the Toronado body side that included the big wheel flares. We tested that on the passenger side of the 1965 Delta 88 before we started modeling the Toronado. Irv Rybicki, then Chief Designer of Chevrolet was brought in to look at it by Chuck Jordan, and Irv said that the design made the car look small and that it should be saved for a future special Oldsmobile.

    We didn’t have time to do it, but we started a full-size model on the Oldsmobile Chief Engineers proposal for a car based on a Camaro platform. We didn’t have time to work on it and Chuck wanted to keep it going so he sent it down to Don Hoag’s advanced studio, where Ed Taylor was working with him as his assistant. They didn’t have sculptors so it sat there for seven weeks with hardly anything done. The new E-Car platform was then ready for us to start and we brought it back, and finished it. That was the small car. So we had the whole design front, side, rear and upper, but the car was too small so we tore it apart enlarged the armature and did it all over again.
    The story is on that Old Cars Weekly website.

    I will say it again, Don Logerquist created the body side for the Toronado the most unique part of the car. Stan Wilen not only was responsible for the design, but he also was one of the designers, giving direction to Dave North, Don Logerquist, Frank Munoz and Dick Ruzzin.

    Knowing Stan very well, I would say that he didn’t want to blow his own horn and take credit. He was above that. the GM press corps was notorious for taking information and then just writing a story. They were not at all concerned with reality, that is pretty obvious to anyone that worked on the car.

    By the way, Deans garage.com published another story about the design of the Toronado 12 years ago. I was the author of that story too and it is the genesis of this new one.

    I also have the letter that your wife wrote me when I sent you a note 12 years ago for your thoughts on the design of the car. You would not answer. A lot of other people did, George Gadda and Orville Selders did. And Stan Wilen did.

    If you read my story about the design of the Toronado, you’ll see that it is filled with detail that just could not be made up. That’s because I told the story as it happened.

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