Take a look at this absolute wonderment of American automotive engineering, note the obscure features and cartoonish proportions, bask in the glory that is the 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado AQC Jetway 707! These were built at a time in American history when traveling to the airport was a momentous occasion. Sometimes only for the wealthy. It was an experience. You dressed up, and you wanted to arrive in style, but also with an eye towards a budget and saving time. These were made to carry 15 passengers on individual seats in comfort, but also while being able to handle the luggage of the aforementioned 15 riders.
This wild creation was built by the now defunct American Quality and Coach Company that was located in northeast Arkansas. AQC used the front wheel drive Toronado platform to build only 52 of these magnificent 8 door, 6 wheel, 15 passenger airport shuttles. The behemoth of a vehicle, whose name pays homage to the Boeing 707, had a very short production run. The company invested heavily in their shop and tooling, and had goals and plans of building custom hearse’s, ambulances, and the shown airport transporters. Unfortunately the cost of business shut down their builds before the company could ever get off the ground.
Some have speculated how many may still be around hiding in hangers or barns, but no true record exists. Regardless of that number, this is most certainly a rarity from the golden age of American automotive manufacturing. We know there are 2 in southern Ohio, 3 in Wisconsin, 1 in California, 1 in Canada, and one at a museum overseas. So going by those numbers, this number 8 of 52 known to be left in existence from the original production. We have tracked down another potential 3, but they ended in a dead end. We can not confirm whether they are awaiting restoration, or if they have met their demise at the crusher. There is unfortunately not a ton documentation left on these.
Ours is production number 12 as shown on the plaque. The vin numbering process started at 100. All of these built were titled as 1968s, even though some were not completed until 1969 or 1970. The early production runs had steel roofs. The later built ones had fiberglass roofs. From what we can tell ours is the last steel roof Jetway ever built.
The doors were custom made, and are not sourced from a GM 4 door vehicle. The roof was raised for extra headroom and comfort. The sunroof and windows were for the passengers to enjoy the marvel of the airplanes, and to be able to see when being ferried on the runway. These beautiful behemoths are front wheel drive. This was to ensure a flat floor for maximum comfort for the passengers. There were other airport courier vehicles manufactured back in the day. These were the only built ones with dual rear beam axles, and custom built roofs. When AQC went out of business, Stageway was one of a few companies to carry on the airport courier torch, but they did not add an extra axle, or modify the roof on their builds. The Jetways are one of the last truly custom built automotive pieces of history.
Ours after being completed in Arkansas, made it’s way home to the great motor city of Detroit. She was used in the late 60’s to the mid 70’s to ferry executives and some higher ups from GM to Detroit Metro Airport. She hung around and was used for the same role, but also transported passengers from hotels. She was used by the airport until roughly the early 80’s, where she moved to owner #2. Owner #2 owned a limousine company, and she worked until the late 90’s as service limousine. While in possession of owner #2, she took on the “centipede” moniker on her side. We have no idea the significance or insignificance of her picking that name up. Owner #3 (and the family we purchased her from) used to work for the owner of the limo company. He owned the beautiful and elegant Jetway from right around 1999 until his passing recently. The Jetway was last on the road in the mid 2000’s. There is a picture of her at Woodward dream cruise reported to be from 2009. The family we purchased her from said the date online is incorrect, and the Jetway has been broken and non drivable since 2004 roughly. We worked with the estate of the family, and his brother handled the title and sale of this beauty.
So Cleveland Power & Performance is proud to be owner #4 of a very important piece of Americana. We strongly believe in all aspects of automotive past and present, but with this girl having such a deep history rooted in Detroit, we knew it was time for us to step in with the preservation and resurrection of a forgotten time in American automotive history.
We purchased this 28 foot long beast, powered by a 455 cubic inch V8 engine, to save from being reclaimed by mother nature. At this point, we are still not 100% sure how far we will take the restoration as we have to dig in and see what is really going on under the paint and floor pans.
Stay tuned to see what the Power and Performance crew does with this automotive oddity.
We look forward to hearing and learning more about the other Jetways in existence and their history. If anyone has any pictures of her growing up in the Detroit area, we would love to hear from you.
Please let us know your thoughts on what her next steps in the build should be.