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A Look Back at The Hurst Lightning Rods Shifter

The ’80s was a crazy time for fashion, hairstyles, and automotive accessories. Here’s an awkward moment in aftermarket shifters, the Hurst Lightning Rods.

Part of the fun in looking through old scrapbooks is having a good laugh with ourselves for the fads and styles of times past. Jeez, what we were thinking? Such could be the case in automotive fashions, too. Take the Hurst Lightning Rods, an aftermarket performance shifter marketed in the 1980s. This gadget employed three shift levers to accomplish everything that a single lever could do.

Hurst’s inspiration for the Lightning Rods was the Lenco transmission used in drag racing in those years, notably in the NHRA Pro Stock category. A highly specialized, purpose-built piece of straight-line racing equipment, the Lenco employed a series of planetary gear assemblies that stacked together in modular fashion, with an individual shift lever for each gearset—simple, positive, and utterly foolproof. Hurst took this race-only setup and adapted it to production automatic transmissions, allowing road drivers to emulate their drag strip heroes, grabbing a separate lever for each upshift… read more >

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