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Magna Torrero Rides into Automotive History: An Insider’s Look

When the Magna Torrero concept vehicle debuted in 1989, it rocked the automotive – and movie – world, as designers rushed to copy it and Hollywood called, with an offer to showcase the futuristic creation in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

As a Magna prototype technician, it was Rocky Taylor’s task get the Torrero ready to ship to California for the automotive version of a screen test. His assignment included test-driving the Torrero – in a parking lot and under 30 mph.

“The movie producers were looking for vehicles that were advanced and previewed the future,” recalled Taylor, now a Magna plant manager in Troy, Michigan. “The Torrero was unlike any other vehicle. Designers would look at it and say, ‘This thing looks cool.’”

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He adds: “It was exhilarating to get in it, start it up and feel the rumble of that 8.1-liter V8, but with a vehicle that expensive, you don’t go hot-dogging around. I just made sure it went straight and started up every time.”

While the 532-hp Torrero never made it onto the silver screen, supposedly due to budget cuts at the studio, it is riding into the Canadian Automotive Museum in August, as part of its history collection.

When it debuted at the 1989 Geneva Auto Show, the Torrero was heralded as Magna’s bold step into the business of designing and manufacturing cars, as the company expanded its capabilities.

The vehicle, which previewed today’s sport/luxury all-terrain vehicles, was “wild enough to stand out among the numerous concept cars at auto shows” and exemplifies “what is possible when a sport-utility vehicle goes upscale,” raved reviewers.

At the time, the Torrero featured styling cues that are common today on SUVs and crossovers, including beefy fenders, a large grille and a sharply raked windshield. The interior is swathed in buffalo hide and is equipped with a full array of electronic gadgets, include a fax machine and video player. Pivoting front seats round out the package.

While some described the Torrero as “revolutionary” and “unforgettable,” the vehicle never made it into production and had fallen off the radar in recent years, residing in a back corner of a Magna facility in Concord, Ontario. Today, it is something of a “barn find,” a classic car that has been stashed away and protected, until the wraps come off it once again for the public to admire and recall.

Those memories have come into sharp focus for Taylor, who remembers watching a movie on the Torrero’s rear seat video screen.

It was Blade Runner,” he said. “You could also play the very first Atari video game in the Torrero. Technicians like me were fascinated by the vehicle. We would pop in there on our lunch hour and play Pong. I would love to take my grandkids to the museum when it goes on display. I would tell them this was part of my life. I got it running, moved it around and babysat it for 15 years.”

 

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