The most famous car of the 1980s pro street era has a new owner

Pro street legend takes custodianship of the Dobbertin J2000 Pontiac


American car builder Rick Dobbertin is one of the most famous names in the annals of pro street history.

Rick rocked the car scene for the first time when his 1965 Chevy II debuted in 1982. The Nova was named Hot Rod’s Street Machine of the Year in 1982 and scooped the top gongs at the Car Craft Street Machine Nationals in 1982 and 1983. Rick’s formula was to combine an outrageous twin-turbocharged, supercharged and nitrous-injected big-block powerplant with cool graphics, massive rubber and insane detail. The car’s success kicked the pro street scene into orbit, inspiring other builders to craft wilder and crazier creations.

Rick’s next build was even wilder, but it also signalled the beginning of the end of the pro street era itself, as the scene moved back to more streetable builds.

The car in question was based on a tiny J2000 Pontiac econocar. We go into more detail about the J2000 in our interview we did with Rick in 2022. Suffice to say, the J2000 was insane, featuring a flip-top body and an aluminium small-bock that ran twin blowers, twin turbos and nitrous, backed by a Lenco.

The car won Hot Rod’s Hot Rod of the Year in 1986 and won hundreds of trophies. Australian car fans of a certain age have a particular affection for Rick and the J2000, thanks to Chic Henry bringing the car to Australia for the very first Street Machine Summernats in 1988.

Rick sold the car over a decade ago, and it has since been hidden from view – until now. Enter Matt and Debbie Hay, who are big names in the pro street history books thanks to their pink Ford Thunderbird. This car debuted in 1988 to great acclaim, but was later sold.

Matt and Debbie eventually bought the car back, restored it and got it back in the public eye in 2014. The car even starred in a Doritos TV advert during the Super Bowl.

And now, Matt and Debbie have acquired Rick’s Pontiac after years of trying and now have two of the most famous pro street cars ever built in their shed. Both the Pontiac and the T-bird were immortalised as Revell models.

As with the Thunderbird, the plan is to give the Pontiac a birthday and give a whole new generation the chance to see the most famous pro streeter of all time in the metal. And Rick has been tipped to appear alongside the car at selected events. Love it!

Matt and Rick are mates, and both blokes has impressive resumes that go far beyond their iconic pro street cars.

Rick’s most famous project after the J2000 was the astounding and amphibious Dobbertin Surface Orbiter, otherwise known as the DSO. The DSO was designed to circumnavigate the globe in one hit. While the project generated massive publicity, the journey was never completed, and the DSO was sold 1999. You can read more about it here. It is a fascinating tale!

Matt’s car history is just as colourful, and includes restoring and collecting a bunch of Indy racers, including one of only two turbine cars built by Carroll Shelby. Check out the video below for the skinny on that one.