Have you ever heard of a Lightning Rods shift mechanism?
“1983 Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds 15th Anniversary Edition,” the listing begins. “What you will find here is a nice car that has been well cared for through the years as is evident by the photos. Highly documented, mostly original specimen of a rare automobile.”
The “Lightning Rods” shifter setup is one of automotive history’s most unique configurations. It’s largely a traditional automatic, but with two additional levers – one allowing the car to shift from first to second gear, and another allowing the car to shift from second to third gear.
To some, this feels like overkill since A) If someone wanted to shift their own gears so badly, they would probably buy a stick-shift car, and B) It could be considered redundant to do with three levers what could be done with just one. But in a sense, this was an ancestor of today’s “manual mode” automatics and paddle shift levers. Plus, it’s entertaining to watch in action, as seen in this YouTube video.
Oldsmobile and Hurst Performance were known to partner with one another as far back as the late 1960s with the 442 muscle car models. By the early 1980s, General Motors was revamping its platforms, and the Cutlass line was split between the front-wheel drive Cutlass Ciera (on the A-body) and the rear-wheel drive Cutlass Supreme (on the G-body).
A special 15th Anniversary version of the Cutlass Supreme – such as today’s example – was produced in 1983 called the Hurst/Olds. It was optioned with unique wheels, a muscular hood, a rear spoiler, a 307cid V8, and 3.73 gearing. Most importantly, it came with that unique Lightning Rods shifter. A total of 3,001 of these units were produced for 1983.
As for this specific Hurst/Olds, the seller states that it fits the perfect balance between a show-quality car and a driver-grade car. Some areas of the exterior have been repainted. The oil, oil filter, and air filter were changed within the last 50 miles, and the carburetor was rebuilt under prior ownership.
“The car drives, handles, shifts, and runs as if it were new. The Lightning Rods are smooth and are a blast to shift. The owner before me put a lot of money into mechanical items. This car is a time capsule in many ways, and there aren’t too many left out there in this condition,” the listing concludes.
The seller is asking $39,500 for this tri-shifter Hurst/Olds.