The Malaise Era was the period between the Seventies and Eighties when America made some pretty poor automobiles. Changing government regulations meant customers were suddenly shopping for cars that were fuel efficient rather than fast and fun. It wasn’t a particularly memorable period for enthusiasts but ironically some of the most iconic cars emerged during this time such as the 1978 Trans Am, 1982 Mustang GT and this 1983 Hurst/Olds Cutlass.
The black over silver model marked the 15th anniversary of the original 1968 edition H/O but by the Eighties the big engines were a distant memory. It didn’t have a 6.6-litre under the power bulge bonnet — instead it made do with a four-barrel 180bhp, 332Nm 5.0-litre V8 breathing through dual exhausts with rumbling mufflers. Not exactly heady numbers today but back then it was one of the hottest things around. The 3.73 rear end ensured tyre-smoking getaways and it sure had the show to match the (relative) go thanks to the 15in chrome wheels wrapped with sticky Goodyear Eagle GT tyres, rear spoiler and red pin stripes. You could spec the car with a sunroof or t-tops but the main talking point was the Hurst Lightning Rod shifter. It allowed drivers to use a separate shifter for each upshift. It was basically a mechanical version of the electronically controlled, manual-shift automatic used in many cars today and though it looked weird, the demand was so high that all 3,001 cars built that year with the three levers sprouting from the transmission tunnel were snapped up. The following year the paint scheme was reversed and an even stronger rear was made available.
Malaise Era cars gets a bad wrap but there were plenty made then that are sought after now, this being one. If you want to stand out from those Pontiacs and Fords then Dh50,000 can make it happen — if you can find one of these rare collectibles first.