How’s That Shifter Work? Lightning Rods 1984 Hurst/Olds

Sometimes I wonder what the younger generation thinks of these ‘80s collectibles, especially compared with the cars we treasure from the 1960s. When those come up at auctions, or as barn finds, they’re often totally rusty or trashed. Cars like this 1984 Hurst/Oldsmobile, by contrast, are often preserved like they were in a time capsule. It’s as if somebody magically came along in the 1980s-90s and taught first owners how to treat cars that would have a legacy. This beauty, by the way, in available here on craigslist, coming out of Tumwater, Washington. The asking price is $24,500, and thanks to Matt H for the tip.

The Hurst and Oldsmobile relationship goes back to the 1960s, with the first Hurst/Olds available in 1968 and in ten total model years between then and 1988, including 1968, 1969, 1972-75, 1979, 1983-84, and 1988 (limited to a handful of cars produced for the collaboration’s 20th anniversary). The first such models were 455-CID engine swaps which displaced the factory-installed 400s in the newly styled Cutlass two-door. They also featured the installation of the famous Hurst Dual-Gate shifter. Exterior enhancements were also part of the package, a tradition carried on throughout the life of this collaboration.

The 1984 Hurst/Olds, built on the Cutlass Calais, came only in silver over black, a reversal of the previous year’s color combination. Other changes for this model year included cosmetic revisions to the grille and the taillights. The muscle credentials continued, with a power bulge hood and rear spoiler and a 307-CID Oldsmobile engine in place. The power might not have been ’60-like, at just 180hp, but you could shift the automatic transmission manually using the whacky-looking, three-lever Lightning Rods shifter. How does that work? The left rod is for standard “PRNDL” duties. The rightward stick shifts from gear one to two. The middle stick takes you from second gear to third. Perhaps as important was that the engine produced 245 ft-lbs. of torque, and that’s the fast that you feel when you mash the gas. Use of a 3.73:1 gear set enhanced the car’s quickness as well.

The mid-1980s had a number of competing muscle offerings in the marketplace, including the Monte Carlo SS and Buick Grand National, so you have choices even amongst corporate cousins if you’re looking for something from this era. Is this car worthy of your consideration?  The miles are described as low, but they total over 55K. Then again, the car is said to be like new and, indeed, inside and out, it appears to be spotless. The ad indicates that maintenance is up to date and that the car even has had the A/C serviced, but it appears that the next owner could add value with a factory-spec under-hood detailing.


  1. Tony Primo

    Averaging 1,450 miles per year is low mileage in my book.

    Like 5
  2. Holly Birge Member

    I saw this car on Saturday at the Greenwood Car Show in Seattle. It’s stunning in person.

    Like 11
    • FireAxeGXP

      Lucky you Holly! Seattle and this Oldsmobile must have made a good weekend.

      Like 1
  3. MLM

    It’s not as fast as the Buick GN but the 83-84 Hurst Olds are my favorites amongst the Cutlass.

    Like 4
  4. Bob

    Is it okay to use muscle car and 80’s in the same sentence? 😂😂

    Like 1
  5. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Still a little confused on the shifter? After manually shifting do you have to return the 2 shift levers back to there original position before you can use the auto mode?

    Like 4
    • Joe Padavano

      Yeah, but the Lightning Rods are really a gimmicky shifter. Keep in mind that there is still only a single gear selector shaft into the transmission operated by a single cable from the shifter. The trans neither knows nor cares if that selector shaft is operated by a single column shift lever, a single floor shift lever, or a dozen levers with a bunch of monkey motion. The Lightning Rods were supposed to evoke the multi-lever shifter on the Lenco trans in Warren Johnson’s Hurst/Olds Pro Stock racer. In that application, it really is one stick connected to one gear in a manual trans. Here it’s just a gimmick. The Dual Gate does exactly the same thing with a lot less complexity and gimmickry.

      Like 1
  6. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Thanks Joe. Great term, monkey motion!

    Like 1
  7. trav66

    55k miles, T-tops, Hurst/Olds, Lightning rods, A/C serviced recently, $24,500! Can’t believe this is still listed! Sweet looking Olds! A lot of years left on this baby.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.