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Limousine Week--Jetway 707

Ladies and gentlemen, following up on yesterday's look at airport limos, we present to you the airport limo to end all airport limos, the sleekest and swankest jet age marvel ever to grace a terminal loading zone: the Jetway 707 built by American Quality Coach Corporation.

"The limousine of tomorrow--in 1968!"What was your first impression of this vehicle? Did you think, as I did, that it looked like an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser that had been caught in a taffy puller, or pumped full of growth hormones by mad scientists engaged in diabolical avant garde experiments previously performed only on insects and other small, meaningless creatures?

That's actually not too far off the mark.

UPPWhile the Jetway wasn't based on the Vista Cruiser, there was something most definitely Oldsmobilish about it. From the windshield forward, it's a genuine Oldsmobile--a 1968 Toronado, to be precise. To make a Jetway, American Quality Coach started with the Toronado's front suspension and sheetmetal and its unique "Unitized Power Package"--a 455 "Rocket" V-8 and Turbo Hydromatic 400 tranny specially adapted for front wheel drive.

This was mated to a 186" wheelbase frame that allowed for a flat floor from the dashboard all the way past the tandem rear axles to the license plate. The Toronado's mid-body character line, which started at the front of the original Oldsmobile quarter panel, continued straight across all four doors and the cargo bay and terminated 28 feet later at the back bumper. From the second row back, there was a raised clerestory/Vista Dome roof section with "skylight" windows. On some Jetways, the side windows continued all the way to the rear as in the photo below; on others, the row of windows terminated at the front of the immense rear cargo bay, which was accessed through a hinged rear door. A Jetway holds 12 passengers--actually, as many as 15 if they're not too husky and really like each other--in its four rows of seats, with luggage space more than sufficient for all of them.

You could probably fit a Smart Car in the back.AQC had plans for a full line of Toronado-derived commercial vehicles: ambulances, hearses, combination cars, and upscale executive stretch limos; but it was not to be. (There is also photographic evidence that at least one Toronado-derived car carrier was built which looks to be the same size as a Jetway, but it's unclear if this was done by AQC or someone else.) Though a capable design, and orders of magnitude groovier and more happenin'-now than the stodgy Aerobus, the Jetway did not sell well enough to survive. Depending on who you ask, there were somewhere between 52 and 150 Jetway 707s built between 1968 and 1970 before AQC went bust.

Green Jetway (SWF)Some sources claim that the Jetway's chassis ended up under the GMC Motorhome, which was introduced in 1973. The larger version of the Motorhome (the 26-footer) has a wheelbase two feet shorter than the Jetway, so it's not exactly the same chassis--but it's not implausible that GM acquired the rights to the Jetway's frame design in AQC's bankruptcy sale and used that as a starting point for the Motorhome's engineering.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

The promo image at the top comes from Dave's Classic Limousine Pictures. The rear quarter photo is from an article at Hooniverse that dubbed the Jetway "the ideal hell bus." (???) The bottom Jetway picture comes from Station Wagon Forum.

Comments

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My first impression was actually mirrored in the conclusion of the article: that the Jetway looked like the genetic missing link between the Toronado and the GMC. Interesting that the motorhome is actually shorter!

Awesome post.

One thing to note... the illustration at the top is actually using a 1967 Toronado front clip, not a 68. I suppose one explanation is that the 68 hadn't come out yet when the illustration was done, so they didn't know what it looked like yet.

As someone who absolutely adored the styling of the '66 Toronado, the changes to the car for the later years were horrifying.

Although AQC didn't start cranking these out until 1968 their first ones were built with the 1967 Toronado front end. I know of two that still exist.
My Jetway has the '68 front end.
The white one shown above is owned by Curtis who lives in San Diego. I've never been able to track down the owner of the green one.
Worldwide I know of about 15 of these vehicles. I've made contact with about 6 owners.
Hoping to have mine on the road sometime in 2014

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