Definitely Not Your Father’s Olds        

15th Anniversary Special

John Gunnell - July 14, 2014 03:32 PM


The ’83 Hurst Olds was also a 15th anniversary edition.

Courtesy of John Gunnell

Black with silver accents was the 1983 color scheme. A total of 3,001 Hurst Olds were built in 1983.

Courtesy of John Gunnell

The loud interior is a typical 1980s design

Courtesy of John Gunnell

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      “I swear I actually heard my father having an aneurysm,” said Chris DeBaker.
      It was 1999. Chris had just asked his father for $2,000 to purchase a 1983 Hurst Olds. “First, he asked what kind of car it was and I said an Oldsmobile and he said Oldsmobiles are nice cars,” DeBaker recalled. “But when I told him it was a ‘83 model, he told me ‘there ain’t no car that old worth that much money!’”
      Chris had first spotted the car during a charity motorcycle ride just north of Pulaski, Wisconsin. It was sitting in the front yard of a multi-family dwelling on Highway 32. “I didn’t know what door to knock on, so I just picked one,” DeBaker explained. “Behind it was someone that I had worked with and he was the seller.”
His friend Tony told him he owned the car and they went to look at it together. As he usually would, DeBaker began picking the car apart as to what was wrong with it. “Don’t do that,” said Tony. “We bought a house and we need a down payment, so we have to get $6,000 for the car or we aren’t selling it.”
      Chris was a little short of that number, so he called his father and it wasn’t going well at first. “I told Dad it was a collector’s item and convinced him to loan me the money. I bought the car and I’ve had it ever since. It has a 307 V-8 and it was a ‘smog dog’ when I bought it, but it isn’t like that any more.”
DeBaker has a company called C & S Cylinder Head and Machine. He had been redoing cylinder heads as a sideline since 1977 and went to full time in 2000. “I moved to an agricultural area and noticed a need for a cylinder head service,” he said. “I do only headwork, but I have a surface grinder with enough capacity to take a Cummins 350 and I can resurface heads, blocks, manifolds and anything else.”
      We told DeBaker about the time we ran into Oldsmobile historian Helen Early and her sister driving a 1983 Hurst Olds at a car show. They had driven the Oldsmobile press car over from Lansing, Michigan, but really had no idea how to properly work the unique Lightning Rod gear shifters. “Yes, they are impressive to see and nice looking,” said DeBaker. “But, you have to be an octopus to work the darn things.”
      DeBaker belongs to the Hurst Olds Club ( but only takes his car out to local shows. “I use it mainly to promote my cylinder head business,” he noted. “I had put a sign out by the biggest highway near my business, but the state made me take it down, so I rely on my 15th Anniversary Hurst Olds to find new customers. It’s really just about identical to the 1984 model, but mine is black with silver trim and the ’84 is silver with black trim.”