Hooniversal Car of the Year Nominee: Sebastian’s 1979 Hurst/Olds Cutlass Calais
Nominated By Mad_Science
As seen in: What Malaise? 6.6L Hurst/Olds and a followup, here.
We’ll get it out of the way ahead of time: this 1979 Hurst/Olds isn’t the best car nominated. It’s not even that great of a car in the first place: ill-handling, thirsty, awkwardly styled, and not all that fast, really. So why nominate it? Because it captures the essence of this site so perfectly.
Back in October I got this site going as a way to publish the ridiculous craigslist and ebay finds that I was otherwise inflicting upon The Missus or our own Braff. One of these days I’ll run a compilation of her responses, as they’re pretty hilarious. Jeff typically counters my oddball listings with selections from the Audi S or RS lines (aka $20k maintenance timebombs).
Anyway, back on topic: Right off the bat, Sebastian (the seller) earned points with a well written and awesomely photographed Craigslist ad. That English is his second language only shames the typical Craigstlist poster even more. ESL? Yup. Nothing like calling for info on one of the more white-trashy rides in existence, only to be greeted by a cheerful German accent. He was cool enough to run the car by my house on a Friday night for me to take a look at and test drive. (Did I mention I was seriously considering buying it?)
A brief review of the stats: swapped-in 6.6L (403ci) Olds V8 out of Trans Am, TH350 with the epic Hurst Dual-Gate Shifter, decent paint and T-Tops. In short, the best the US could muster at the height of the malaise era. Getting behind the wheel, it’s clear this thing was never going be a canyon carver. In fact, it was going to have a hard time if the run out on the drag strip had a curve to it. Power-wise, it had no problem getting out of its own way, but it was a tad underwhelming. My 390-powered ’67 Country Sedan could outrun it.
Turns out the 6.6L made 180hp in stock form, largely due to one of the shortest strokes in big V8 history. To wake one up, you either need to build it to take advantage of that short stoke and rev up to the 6-7-8k rpm range, install a stroker crank, or add forced induction. Totally do-able, but not for the cost in money and time that I was looking to spend. Also tricky to keep smog legal in California.
I decided to pass, but knew it could be the right car for someone, so I ran the second post on it. He was asking $4500 and needed to sell before he had to leave due to an expiring visa. Time went by and it came down to the wire, and he was stuck selling for $1000. You read that right. You may now begin kicking yourselves.
Summary aside, let’s get to why this deserves to be the Hooniversal Car of the Year. The other nominees have been great, really. But when it comes down to it, there’s no shortage of blogs, forums or magazines that’d be happy to salivate over any of the other nominees.
Hooniverse is the only place you’ll find a car like this. It’s the only place that’ll actually call up the seller and go for a test drive, and it’s the only place where you’ll actually find the authors trying in earnest to get you to buy it. (BringATrailer comes close, but they take themselves too seriously).
Hooniverse is dedicated to actually going out and buying those craigslist finds, to actually hitting “confirm bid”, to actually going for it on that LeMons team. Sebastian went for it. He found a car you can only get in America and drove it daily though his limited stay here, despite the availability of numerous more practical alternatives. Maybe a ’79 Hurst/Olds isn’t your thing, but for every one of these, there’s a rusty BMW e9, a Datsun 510, a Chevy 400-powered Triumph, or some other car out there begging to be put to use on the road.
A vote for Sebastian’s Hurst/Olds is a vote for all of those “too cheap to pass up” finds that, looking back 10 years on, you’ll be glad you picked up.
Here’s to 2010.