Unusual Gear Shifting Solutions in Hurst/Olds Сars

Unusual Gear Shifting Solutions in Hurst/Olds Сars

Today, it may be hard to believe today, but in the 80s, GM amazed the automotive market with cars with remarkable gear shifting mechanisms. These remarkable shifters allowed drivers of automatic cars to shift gears manually.

In 1968, Oldsmobile, in cooperation with Hurst Performance, produced a special version of the Olds Cutlass Supreme, named the Hurst/Olds. The most remarkable feature of this car was neither the paint job nor its powerful engine, but a Hurst dual-gate shifter that offered two algorithms of gear shifting. Before this unique project, George Hurst offered his remarkable gear shifting solution in 1963. It was supposed to make it possible for muscle-car drivers to shift gears more rapidly than with standard automatics.

Hurst dual-gate shifter

The Hurst shifting technology was based on a simple engineering concept - a shifter with 2 paths. The main left shift pattern was a conventional PRNDL (automatic) mechanism where you shift the lever in D gear and let the gearbox do the trick. It operated with medium line pressure and quite low shift points for comfortable driving. The other gate was intended for a synchronized manual control.

It implies that drivers of that time had a genuine choice. They could drive comfortably without troubling themselves with shifting gears (automatic mode) or to be more involved in the inner workings of their vehicle (manual mode). They could rely on the control system to do the job for them or to trust their own reflexes. It was also known as "His 'n' Her" shifter, as female drivers preferred to drive automatically, while men more often opted for the manual control.

In 1983 GM released the car with even more unusual gear shifting mechanism named Hurst Lightning Rods Triple Shifter. This technology has found application on the special Cutlass Supreme version.

Hurst Lightning Rods Triple Shifter

For futuristic gear shifter design, Hurst engineers took inspiration from the Lenco gear shifting technology that gained popularity in the world of drag racing. The design of Lenco unit comprises a series of planetary gear assemblies with a modular arrangement. The engineering structure of this transmission included a shift lever for each gear set. Hurst used this race-only setup as a basis and adjusted it to conventional automatics, making it possible for common auto enthusiasts to feel like a professional racer.

Lenco 4-speed drag racing transmission

The Lightning Rods solution was conceived to operate like any standard automatic gear shifter, with a well-known PRND pattern. The most peculiar part of its design lied in 2 extra levers. No wonder that such unusual design solution frequently confused young drivers, so Hurst made sure the system had a means of being driven even by inexperienced drivers: it was necessary to push the center and right lever forward to switch the gear shifting process into automatic mode.

Designed to be visually fascinating as Lenco, at the same time allowing manual shifting in the automatic car, the Lightning Rods system became a truly unique technology. These shifters sold in limited quantities by Hurst at speed shops throughout the US, but their expensiveness kept volume low. Moreover, this miracle of automotive engineering also found application in ’83-84 Oldsmobiles.

Check out this 3 lever shifter in action

Unfortunately, these 3-lever shifters turned out to be commercially unviable, and after ’83-84 Olds, this technology became a part of the automotive history. Hurst tried to revive this technology introducing aftermarket kits, but this idea also had poor success. Eventually Hurst shifting technology was replaced by more efficient shifters (Ratchet, Manu-Matic).

Finding quality transmission insights and reliable information is not an easy task for transmission specialists who are often either busy with transmission repairs or have their hands covered in oil after a transmission fluid change. All in all, we may be exaggerating a bit but finding these materials is a timely process indeed. We at go4trans.com have got it covered for you! There is a lot you can learn about transmission problem solutions and new transmission models being launched, we also try to interview transmission industry professionals so they can share some of their experience and stories with our readers. We have also included what we find to be events of interest for anyone related to the transmission industry: you check dates, venues, profile and more details on the upcoming industry events. We have got food for thought that you need!

You can add your own material at go4trans.com. If you want to share a story related to your business or if you want to highlight some industry news and introduce it to fellow specialists, we encourage you to submit your material to us by contacting us through the contact form or this email: info@go4trans.com.

Latest articles

There are so many problems with electrification development. No infrastructure, no stations to charge the batteries. And charging takes too long. Also, many cars don’t match the charger, many vehicles have to

In the last couple of articles, we used terminology relating to pressure control solenoids such as PWM, Frequency, and Duty Cycle. In this article I thought I would go into depth on what these terms really mean and how they relate to

As far as I know, we are the only company that manufactures frictions clutch plates, steel clutch plates, and similar products, that is vertically integrated. In other words, not only can we test new designs, we also develop our own resins, and we can design and make our paper.

Share this page with your friends