Not Just Decals: 1983 Hurst Oldsmobile

Believe it or not, there are some really cool early eighties collectible cars floating around out there.  Take for example this 1983 Hurst Oldsmobile currently for sale on eBay in Demopolis, Alabama.  While many “special” cars of this era were nothing more than decal packages, it seems that Oldsmobile went all out on these cars.  Packing a special transmission, beefier suspension parts, a stronger engine, and the famous Hurst “Lightning Rod” shifter, these distinctive coupes were certainly different from a run of the mill grandma’s Oldsmobuick.  However, if you want to play with this one then you will have to pay.  The bidding is at $3,550, and you’ll have to drop a fair amount of coin to get this one ready for the show circuit.

Oldsmobile was celebrating a 15 year affiliation with Hurst Performance.  Their first pairing was on the 1968 Hurst/Olds, which was based on an Oldsmobile Cutlass body.  These cars had special paint, a modified 455 cubic inch engine, and the then popular Hurst Dual Gate shifter for the three speed automatic transmission.   The two companies reunited occasionally over the next 15 years to produce special Oldsmobiles of this type.  By 1983, performance was lacking for nearly every domestic car, but things were looking up.

For the time, these Hurst/Olds would be very special indeed.  Starting with a black over silver color scheme, the exterior of the cars was spiffed up with special striping and decals, a trunk mounted spoiler, chrome wheels with Goodyear Eagle GT tires sporting raised white letters, and a power bulge in the hood.  Many of the cars were also equipped with T-tops.

The internal parts were also a step above normal.  The folks over at have an awesome page that lays out how to tell if you have one of these special Oldsmobiles.  While their page is more comprehensive, the list of enhancements to these cars include a modified version of the Olds 307 V-8, a 200-4R automatic with higher shift points and a 2400 RPM stall speed torque converter, 3.73 gears in the rear end with Positraction as an option, a heavy duty suspension, dual exhaust, and the Lightning Rod shifter.  Not bad for an early eighties car.  Ultimately, only 3,001 were produced that year, with Cars and Concepts doing the final assembly.

While this particular car hasn’t held up well, the odometer lists just 78,467 miles.  We are not given any information to verify that this is the true mileage, or if you need to add another 100,000 to that number.  These early rear wheel driven Oldsmobiles are tough cars mechanically.  However, the paint and upholstery on GM cars of this era don’t hold up very well.  Whatever the final bid is, the winner is also looking at the cost of a complete interior and an all over paint job before any mechanical issues are addressed.  The owner does tell us that there is no sign of accident damage anywhere on the car.

The picture above shows the Lightning Rod shifter for the automatic transmission.  While it certainly looks cool and could befuddle any prospective car thieves eying the car, most of your shifting would probably consist of putting it into either park, reverse, or drive.  Try as they might, this didn’t turn out to be a lightning fast car.  It is doubtful that any  advantage a shifter like this might impart would make much difference in the quarter mile.  Looking cool, however, is half the job.

Under the hood rests Oldsmobile’s reliable but fairly weak 307 cubic inch V-8.  Mainor enhancements netted 180 horsepower.  While we have Kias running around today with a lot more juice than this, the early eighties was a time where we were crawling out of the malaise era of weak, smog choked cars.  Paired with a four speed transmission and the 3.73 gears, this car was one of the stronger runners in GMs fleet.  Only the Buick Regal T-Type eclipsed it in horsepower among GMs personal luxury coupes of that year (the Grand National inexplicably took a year off in 1983).

It will be interesting to see where this car ends up at the close of the auction.  While distinctive and undeniably interesting, this one is not quite in showroom condition.  These personal luxury coupes were beloved by owners for their comfortable ride, good handling, reliability, and good looks.  Having a special edition of any car is a bonus, and these actually were very much improved from the run of the mill models.

Would this car be worth what you would have to put into it, or would it be a hole to throw money down?

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  1. JP

    I don’t know, I owned an 80 Cutlass…I just don’t trust them rear bumpers.

  2. 2cool2say

    “Hearse Olds” is more like it. My favorite thing about cars like this is that it makes the earlier versions look even better!

  3. Nick

    They’re nice looking cars when in good shape, but this one is pretty beat. It’ll be a huge headache for the next owner because they’re not made well. I had an 87 442 and an 86 Monte Carlo SS, and not only are they badly made, but they’re embarrassingly under powered. Whenever I’m tempted to look at a nice one of these, even well cared for with low mileage, the poorly made and under powered aspects remind me that it’s not worth the aggravation, no matter how nice it may look.

  4. Max

    I have small collection of different classic vehicles. Back in 2016 I bought ALL original 1979 Cutlass Hurst /Olds with white/gold color combo has 6900 original miles since new with all ducumentation and manuals! Been in storage since 84 could be one of the cleanest original examples left ! has 350 4v , tilt, beige cloth interior , PS, PB , Hurst shifter , power windows , rear defrost , rally wheels just a beautiful classic Olds these were limited production cars at time. I paid 22K for it . No its Not for sale just sharing my passion for classic car hobby!

  5. Troy s

    To keep it all Olds, and smog were a none issue, it would be much more exciting with a ram rod 350 swapped in. W31 power underneath that 80’s hood would surprise a few folks. Of course those engines are far and few in between.
    My favorite Hurst/Olds is the ’69, very rare both the ’68 and ’69 models, those two cars gave a hint to what was coming in all 442’s in the early seventies…massive torque. This car is nothing at all like those early ones no matter how many shift levers it has.

    • scottymac

      I like your idea, but would a 403 be easier to find? And were the ones installed in Trans Ams any stronger/different than the ones in a Delta 88?

      • Troy s

        403 would be a whole lot easier to find, but with emissions controls killing these engines from day 1, I don’t know how much stronger the ones in the TA could actually be, I mean legitimately stronger performance wise.
        You’re idea is probably ten times more practical then my W/31 dream machine.😀

      • ACZ

        Pretty much a 403 is a 403. You build one like you build an Olds 350, you just get a few more cubic inches. The 403 was cammed to produce low rpm torque, not RPM. Some cleanup of the heads, a slight bump compression and a good cam will make one a tire roaster.

  6. Ken

    All I collect are hurst olds and I am sure this is a part car only . Already bid to high and will cause the buyer plenty of grief to bring back . Been there and know . Buyer beware

  7. Coventrycat

    Looks like every other Regal / Monte / Cutlass / Gran Prix you see an 18 year old driving.

  8. Suttree

    That orange powder on the console and passenger seat is formerly the foam that held the cloth headliner in place.

    • Bingo

      Lol, been there.

      • ACZ

        This had an 8.5 inch rear end. I’d love to have that for my El Camino. The rest ……..not so much.

  9. John m leyshon

    No matter how you use that shifter it’s a sorry tribute to the 442 Legacy. Buick was just introducing the GN, Camaro & Mustang going to 4 BBL. Oldsmobile brought out a marketing package. Appreciate the folks who love their cars and this thing has unlimited potential.

  10. John m leyshon

    I think the “mullet” hair style was inspired by the roof lines of Cutlass, Monte Carlo, Gran Prix

  11. Superdessucke

    Up to nearly $5,000 for this malaise era dreck. We live in some very interesting times indeed. Lot of money floating around out there.

    • Bingo


      • Superdessucke

        That definitely would be my guess. How much is a really nice one though? You might be better off just paying a little bit more for one that you can just enjoy.

  12. JimmyJ

    A gutless car with a cool shifter is a gutless car with a cool shifter

  13. theGasHole

    Seems like a lot of these popping up lately. As said, they are disappointing in the performance category. While that can be remedied to some extent, it’s not going to be a speed demon with the 307.
    This one is in sad shape. Better to get some more money collected and get a nicer one. I sold mine in 2014 for $8500. It was extremely clean and had a lot of work done (new exhaust, bunch of other stuff I forget at this point).
    The Lightening rod shifter, while cool looking lose their novelty quick, and you end up just shifting through the gears as you would with any regular automatic.

  14. treg forsyth

    I like the fact that being a g body platform you can use all the performance parts from other g body models, monte carlo, regal, grand prix, I’m using the quick ratio steering box, inner fender x bracing from a 84 monte carlo s/s, the clutch pedals, floor hump & shifter boot from 80’s el camino, a few 81-86 cutlass came with aluminum hoods, some had aluminum bumper reinforcements, half the weight of steel ones, I got the front alum one, Mine car is 1981 with all poly bushings and has the F41 heavy duty suspension, 350 alum heads, muncie 4spd, great car as far as the 80’s go.

  15. treg forsyth

    350 bored .060

  16. treg forsyth

    muncie 4spd.


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