The Ideal Hell Bus

Q: Why did Helen Keller’s dog kill itself?  A: You would too, if your name was “mmmmrrrrggghhh!”

Now that you’ve laughed at this incredibly offensive joke, you’ll be headed straight to hell. And what better way to travel to an eternity of fire and brimstone than in this?

Hard to imagine now, what with its parent company gone to that great used-car lot in the sky, but the Oldsmobile Toronado was one of the most innovative automobiles ever produced. Touted as “proof of Oldsmobile engineering leadership,” FWD was the wave of the future, and the Rocket Division was proudly leading the charge. Forcing the front wheels to cope with a massive 425 cu. in. V8 and a three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic transmission on 17 feet of “personal luxury” might seem downright suicidal today, but in 1966 it was called American ingenuity, dammit! After all, what would those know-it-all GM engineers think would be more appropriate? A wimpy Saab Viggen motor or something? GM made sure to get it right the first time, spending 7 years overengineering the bejezus out of its unique platform before presenting it as the company’s technological masterpiece. Coupled with its packaging efficiency and ease of assembly, the Toronado was an easy choice for all sorts of wacky platform-sharing, such as GMC’s Motorhome and, well, this.

Looking like the unholy combination of a flathead trout and a meatpacking plant, this would be the inspiringly-named AQC Jetway 707: a six-wheeled, 25-windowed beast designed to ferry lower-level accountants from Mississauga, Ontario to their awaiting TWA flights for corporate planning initiatives. Think your stretched-out Town Car limo you rented out for prom was something special? This could seat 12 to 15 jaded airline passengers, whisking them across the tarmac in relative driveshaft-free comfort. It was the “limousine of tomorrow” in 1968, with enough room to reenact the naumachia of Augustus within its eight (yes, count ‘em, eight) doors.

Built by Cotner & Bevington, it was the first in a series of Oldsmobile professional cars with hearses, ambulances, funeral cars and more conventional limousines planned to follow. Unfortunately, sales of the oddball Jetway tanked with only 52 built, and the enterprise was soon shuttered. I can’t imagine why, though. What a great family truckster this could have been! The Jackson Five’s custom Cadillac wagon has got nothing on this: it didn’t even have twin rear axles. Turn the back into a rumpus room and fill it up with brightly-colored plastic balls, or a bunkbed, or a slot car track—it almost makes headrest-mounted DVD players look passé. Who needs Stow-N’-Go? If Jon and Kate had one of these for their Plus 8, then its inherent coolness could almost make up for Jon’s current status as the most worthless mouth-breathing shit stain on the planet.

And it still looks better than a BMW X6. Sadly, there’s a greater chance of witnessing Batboy riding a Chinese satellite across the troposphere than seeing one of these on the road. But today it would serve rather well as our metaphorical Bus to Hell, ferrying passengers to the underworld rather than to a mind-numbing flight out of LaGuardia: a mission not far removed from its original purpose. Could it be any surprise that the preferred ride to an eternity of damnation is via public transportation? [Pictures from: Flickr (1, 2), Dave’s Classic Limousine Pictures]

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