George Hurst and the Hurst Olds


Watson already knew John Beltz quite well; Ed Cole, then GM’s executive vice president, had introduced them back in 1965. Beltz, who turned 40 in 1966, was then on the corporate fast track. As Oldsmobile’s assistant chief engineer, he had been one of the principal architects of the innovative front-wheel-drive Toronado. He became chief engineer in July 1964 and Cole was already grooming him to succeed Harold Metzel as the division’s general manager.

Beltz was unusual for a GM executive: witty, outspoken, and fearless, with a reputation for saying whatever was on his mind, however impolitic. Beltz and Watson hit it off immediately, in part because Beltz was eager to cultivate the kind of sporty image that was making Pontiac such a success with younger buyers.

By mid-1967, Beltz had been campaigning for about a year for an Oldsmobile pony car to match the new Camaro and Firebird, knowing that Oldsmobile still had a long way to go in shaking off the conservative image the division had cultivated under former general manager Jack Wolfram. Cole, concerned about the likelihood of cannibalizing Camaro and Firebird sales, repeatedly refused, but Beltz was not one to take no for an answer.

Part of the reason Beltz was so determined was that Oldsmobile’s 442, a performance-oriented version of the A-body Cutlass, was still struggling to find its place in the sporty car firmament. Despite good reviews and steadily improving performance, 442 sales still hovered around 25,000 units a year, well short of the popular and aggressively merchandised GTO.

At the time of Hurst and DeLorean’s meeting with Pete Estes, Oldsmobile was preparing to roll out a restyled 1968 A-body with sleek fastback styling that made the Cutlass look rather like an overinflated Firebird. The problem, from a performance standpoint, was that for 1968, Oldsmobile had opted to lengthen the stroke of its big V8 engines in search of more torque. That was fine for the full-size cars and Toronado, which would now have a 455 cu. in. (7,450 cc) engine, second-largest in the industry, but the displacement limit for the A-bodies meant the 442 would be stuck with a de-bored 400 cu. in. (6,554 cc) version with at best mid-pack muscle. As was the case at Pontiac, Oldsmobile’s bigger engine had the same exterior dimensions as the 400 (and actually weighed a bit less), so it would be straightforward to install the 455 in the 442, but corporate policy expressly forbade doing so.

1969 Oldsmobile 442 front 3q
The 1968-1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass was much more curvaceous than were its predecessors, although we find it rather bulky-looking from some angles. This is a 1969 442 Holiday Coupe, identifiable by the lack of vent windows.

Watson and Hurst met with Beltz and Oldsmobile engineer Bob Dorshimer in November and laid out the latest version of the engine swap idea: Hurst would install the 455 cu. in. (7,450 cc) engine in a limited number of specially trimmed Cutlasses, which would be sold through Oldsmobile dealers. The sales would be minimal by GM standards, but the Hurst-modified cars would generate a lot of buzz in the enthusiast press and give Oldsmobile’s image a much-needed boost.

Of course, this proposal presented the same logistical problems for Oldsmobile that it had at Pontiac. The difference this time was that senior management, having already shot down Beltz’s requests for an F-body, was in more of a mood to make concessions — or at least look the other way.


Beltz was amenable to the Hurst proposal, particularly since the cost to Oldsmobile would be relatively modest. However, neither Metzel nor assistant chief engineer Howard Kehrl saw the point, so the project stalled for months while Beltz maneuvered his way through the internal politics. In the meantime, Watson left Hurst-Campbell, although he agreed to remain involved with the Oldsmobile project on a consulting basis.

The Hurst deal finally went forward in March 1968, with divisional authorization for a limited run of 500 455-powered Cutlasses. Since the modified cars would inevitably be more expensive than a standard 442, Watson proposed marketing them as “executive hot rods,” aimed not at teenagers, but at affluent enthusiasts who didn’t want to sacrifice comfort for performance. Rather than being a stripped-out drag-racing special, like the new Plymouth Road Runner, the Hurst car would have a full load of convenience options, including air conditioning — a rare feature for serious performance cars of the era.

There would actually be two engines for the special cars, which were eventually christened “Hurst Olds.” Cars with air conditioning got the W-46 engine, which used the same “C” cylinder heads as the 455 cu. in. (7,450 cc) engines in the Olds Eighty-Eight and Toronado, but with the 442 exhaust manifold, distributor, valve covers and the camshaft specified for 400 cu. in. (6,554 cc) 442s with automatic transmission. Cars without air had the W-45 engine, which used the freer-breathing “D” heads from the 442’s optional W-30 engine along with a hotter camshaft and richer carburetor jets. Both the W-45 and W-46 used the W-30’s cold air intake system, breathing through snorkels below the front bumper, and had heavy-duty cooling systems. Oldsmobile quoted the same rated output for both engines — 390 gross horsepower (291 kW) and 500 lb-ft (675 N-m) of torque — but the W-45 was clearly more powerful.

All but one of the original cars had GM’s three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic, which was fitted for the purpose with Hurst’s Dual-Gate shifter. W-45 cars had a 3.91 axle for better dragstrip performance while air conditioned cars had a 3.08 axle to keep revs down and give the A/C compressor a fighting chance of survival. The chassis, meanwhile, was the same as the 442’s, with a heavy-duty frame, stiffer springs and shocks, and anti-roll bars both front and rear.

Aside from the engines and 442 equipment, the H/O was distinguished from lesser Cutlasses with unique paint and trim. The original plan was for the cars to be painted Firefrost Gold, Hurst’s signature color, but Oldsmobile was initially unable to replicate the color to George Hurst’s satisfaction, so he opted instead for a Toronado color called Peruvian Silver, complemented with black stripes and white pinstripes. The H/O’s interior was basically stock Cutlass, but the dash got walnut trim along with the tachometer/clock combination that was optional on the 442.


Thanks to the early delays, production of the Hurst Olds didn’t begin until early April, barely two months before the end of the 1968 model year. Officially, each H/O began life on the Oldsmobile production lines in Lansing as an engineless but otherwise complete Cutlass before being shipped to Demmer Engineering, a nearby contractor, for installation of the 455 cu. in. (7,450 cc) engine and special Hurst Olds trim. In reality, the engines were installed by Oldsmobile on the regular assembly line; Demmer’s main function was to add the paint stripes and other cosmetic touches.

1968 Oldsmobile Hurst Olds front 3q
Like the ’68 Cutlass, the 1968 Hurst/Olds was 201.6 inches (5,121 mm) long on a 112-inch (2,845mm) wheelbase; curb weight was about 3,800 lb (1,725 kg). Most 1968 Hurst Olds were pillarless Holiday Coupes, like this one, but 56 cars were stiffer pillared Sports Coupes. Just barely visible in this shot are one of the H/O’s distinctive styling features: its red plastic wheel-well liners. (Photo: “1968 Hurst Olds Cutlass” © 2008 Dominick DePaolo; used with permission)

The reason the big engine was not actually installed by Demmer was that Beltz and Metzel were concerned about the potential liability issues; the idea of Oldsmobile being on the hook for warranty claims on engines installed by an outside contractor was uncomfortable, to say the least. Beltz finally concluded that it would be simpler and safer for Olds to install the engines at the factory and say Demmer had done it. We’re not sure to what extent this stratagem really fooled GM’s senior management — we imagine Ed Cole, at least, had a pretty good idea of what was actually going on — but it was a convenient fiction that provided Oldsmobile (and the corporation) with what the CIA once dubbed plausible deniability. Everyone involved stuck to the original story well into the eighties, although even in 1968 some outside observers were suspicious.

The Hurst Olds was not technically a 442, although except for the ostentatious paint job and insignia, the H/O looked much like a 442 and shared many of the same components. With all the “mandatory options” required with the H/O package, the starting price tag was around $4,200, some $400 more than a comparably equipped 442. That was expensive, but not unreasonably so; the H/O package cost more than Oldsmobile probably would have charged for the big engine as a regular production option, but less than the cost of a competent aftermarket engine swap.

At first, the Oldsmobile sales organization wanted no part of the Hurst Olds and tried to kill it; the 442 had hardly been a runaway hit and the prospect of a similar model costing nearly $500 more was not appetizing. General sales manager Mack Worden changed his tune after receiving more than 900 dealer orders within the first 48 hours. Oldsmobile eventually got more than 2,000 orders, but all Demmer had time to complete were 515 cars, all but 64 of them hardtops. Even finishing that many cars was a struggle; Watson had to pay a painter named Paul Hatton more than $10,000 just to finish all the pinstripes in time.

1967 Pontiac GTO Hurst Dual-Gate Shifter
All but one (or possibly two) of the early Hurst Olds had the three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic, equipped with Hurst’s “His and Hers” Dual-Gate Shifter. The Dual-Gate, which Hurst had introduced the previous year in the Pontiac GTO, allowed either normal automatic operation or a modicum of manual control — not unlike Jaguar’s later J-gate shifter.

The Hurst Olds was one of the hotter factory offerings for 1968 and, as expected, garnered a great deal of press attention. Testers from the enthusiast magazines found that W-45 H/Os could run the standing quarter mile (402 meters) in just under 14 seconds with a good launch; air conditioning added about a half second to the ET. Handling and braking were much like the 442’s, viz, better than average for a big American car. Fuel economy was predictably awful, dipping below 10 mpg (23.5 L/100 km) in brisk driving, although it wasn’t that much worse than a regular 442 or GTO.

Despite Worden’s fears, Oldsmobile dealers had little trouble selling out the limited run of Hurst Olds, which was successful enough to earn an encore for 1969.


Add a Comment
  1. When I was young I couldn’t afford one… and by time time I could I was a family man with more need for a station wagon than a pseudo-sporty coupe. I remember seeing one of the last Hurst/Olds Cutlasses on the showroom floor of Thompson Cadillac-Olds in Raleigh, North Carolina when I was looking for a replacement for my totalled ’68 Caprice Estate in November 1983. It got a passing glance while I was waiting for a salesman to see if his boss would accept my offer on an ’81 Custom Cruiser with a diesel engine (fortunately, in retrospect, he didn’t, and I went on to buy a ’78 Country Squire elsewhere).

    But they were interesting cars nonetheless… thanks for the memories.

  2. Thanks for a nicely written and terrifically researched piece. The factories in Lansing, Michigan where many of the H/Os were built have been torn down in the last couple years. Demmer Manufacturing is still in business doing a lot of military work. Story Olds became a Chrysler dealership with the demise of the Olds brand and closed last year.

  3. Reading about George Hurst in this article made me curious about the advent of the four speed manual transmission in American cars.

    I’d love to see a history of the 4-speed on this site, from the Warner T-10 to the Ford and Muncie and the Chrysler A-833.

    You have a very interesting site here, thanks!

  4. [quote]I’d love to see a history of the 4-speed on this site, from the Warner T-10 to the Ford and Muncie and the Chrysler A-833. [/quote]

    That’s a very interesting idea. Let me think about that.

  5. nothing like the executive super car. I grew up with a friend who had a 69 Judge and he hated me in the 1/4 mile I could always bet him, but any thing more and he had me.
    but for some reason we both agreed mine felt like it was more powerful nothing like the big 455cid and all that torque. still my favorite car.

  6. As a 17 year old Indiana farm boy in 1977 I was BIG into going fast, read ALL the big Car magazines I could read and afford, and after having had a 1965 Impala SS since Id gotten my license at 16 I bought a 1972 Chevy Nova SS with a 350 4 bbl, 10 bolt positrac, and Muncie M21 4speed tranny with the prerequisite for racers and go fasters like me Hurst Competition Plus shifter with a polished Hurst embossed “T” handle on top.

    It didnt take me long to install headers, a hotter cam,and traction bars.But I was proud of that chrome plated Hurst Shifter and even sported a big ol “Hurst” sticker on the dash with the 4 speed shift pattern on the four corners of the H behind the Hurst lettering (you old timers like me :) will remember that decal too). The ONLY thing I ever did to that shifter after many years of abuse and hard shifts was replace the worn out shifter bushings in 1978 and I LOVED it.

    After Graduation in 1978 I moved to Cheyenne WY with my folks and started going to Wyoming Technical Inst. (now WyoTech) in Laramie about 50 miles away west on I-80. Going back to school one Monday morning I heard a voice asking for assistance, no one answered and the voice got louder as I got closer to it and I saw a motorhome broken down along the road so I stopped. An older (50+ was a LOT older then)gentleman came up and thanked me for stopping, told me his tranny was acting up and asked if I could give hima ride back to Cheyenne so he could call AAA to come tow him.
    I said “[i]Sure! Hop in[/i]”

    Drove him about 25 miles back to Cheyenne and as we were driving he asked about me and what i was doing with my life, I told him and then he said “[i]Nice car!” [/i]I said thanks and he asked about it, said,”[i]it sounds real good[/i]” and asked what id done to it and so on, making small talk and then asked ,[i]”How do ya like that Hurst shifter?”[/i] Which, I thought was a kinda strange thing to ask about but I told him I liked it a LOT and that Id only changed the shifter bushings after they got kinda sloppy and it was good as new.

    Nice guy and a nice talk (but I thought to myself “Boy! This old dude SURE does like cars!”), and we shortly ended up back in Cheyenne and he asked me to drop him off at a local restaurant and “[i]What do I owe you?”. [/i]I did and I said “[i]Oh?, Nothing at all[/i]!” and as he got out he said [i]”Thanks a lot” [/i] and extended his hand to shake mine (no one older had EVER done that to me and I was floored) and asked my name so I told him, and I said “[i]No problem at all Good luck!” [/i]and I asked him what his name was as we shook hands and he replied, “[b][i]Im George Hurst[/i][/b]”,
    Then he turned and walked inside as my mouth was hanging open!
    I was simply floored, In MY car I was talking to THE guy that designed MY shifter! THE shifter!”Miss Hurst” and Hurst Oldsmobiles [b]MR. [/b][b]Hurst[/b] [i]himself[/i]!!

    I drove away saying “[i]I will NEVER forget THIS!MAN[/i]!” and as I did I looked down at that Hurst shifter in awe, and there, on the pasenger floorboard laid a $50 bill.

    R.I.P. Mr.Hurst

    1. Its been a day since I came across this website & indeed was impressed enuff 2 even leave a slobberknocky kind of post.
      While generally aware of the storie’s highlights previously, Aaron’s style,& presentation, coupled with wormhole type (little known insider information) revelations, definitely sucked me all in….
      And my point is… upon reflection, it was you’re long & entertaining comment that inspired my post.
      I found a lot of common ground for 1 thing,close in age,country boys,Cheyenne was the last big town for my harvest crew.. ect..
      That’s all well n good I spose, but all that pales next 2 your experience with Mr.Hurst. What an amazing story inspired by coincidental random events!
      It left me with a purely symbolic thought not unlike what Saul might have felt when struck by the blinding light on the road 2 Damascus. …
      (Maybe Saul wouldn’t have been walking if he’d had a Hurst Shifter on the floor.)

  7. In 1972, the 300 hp net 445ci, which came with the W-30 option, was called the L77 in an Oldsmobile advertisement.

    According to a 1973 Hurst/Olds advertisement, the base engine was the L75 (air conditioning was not available with this engine) and the optional engine was the L77.

    Was the L77 offered in the 1973 Hurst/Olds a 300 hp net engine (as in 1972) and the L75 a 270 hp net engine?

    In 1973, Oldsmobile did not offer the 300 hp net engine in Oldsmobile cars.

    1. Oldsmobile never produced a 445 Cubic Inch Engine.

      1. I’m assuming that was a typographical error.

    2. We have had our 1972 Hurst/Olds since 1975 (second owners). It came with a 455 (blueprinted at the factory), but I don’t think the 300 HP rating is right. That was for insurance purposes and only an estimate. It does about 108 in the quarter mile, and about 7.2 sec in 0-60 (but you spend about 4 sec with the tires spinning). The red finder wells were up front like the original Hurst/Olds in 1968. Because the 1972 Indy 500 was not corporate sponsored there were lots of fake badges applied at dealerships for U-coded Olds. The Hurst/Olds at the race track in May 1972 are the right ones to compare. At Indy 500 in 1972, there were the pace cars (which had all the badges that you see), ones driven by the judges for the race, and some on display (by the gates). We have the one on display at Gate 4, and it never had the big stickers on the door or finder. The Hurst/Olds badges were all metal and the only stickers on it were the reflective gold 3M. So, yes there were 455s in the Hurst/Olds, but the dealership stuck stickers on whatever they could in 1972 (including lots of 350s). The HP is about 400 (like the older 455s).

      1. Thomas,

        I can certainly understand the sticker game, particularly given the climate of the time, but I’m very skeptical of the 400 hp estimate. Even pre-smog, very few stock engines had more than 400 net horsepower and even the hottest W30 455s were not nearly that quick. I certainly don’t doubt that one can get 400 real horsepower from an Olds 455 and I could see the actual pace car engines (not replicas) being that powerful, but I can’t easily see Oldsmobile going to the expense of blueprinting all the engines or being able to EPA certify them if they did. Pontiac was only able to top the 300 net hp mark with its well-massaged Super Duty 455 by disabling EGR after warmup in a way that subsequently drew a cease-and-desist order from the feds.

        If your car is indeed that fast, more power to you (literally) — I’m not going to argue with someone about the timing slip in their hand! I just don’t know that such speed or power is either stock or typical for these cars.

  8. From what I could determine, it looks like the 1973 L77 optional engine was similar, if not identical, to the ’72 L75 engine — which would mean probably 270 net horsepower, rather than 300. I’ll send you an e-mail with more about my reasoning.

  9. I own the first hurst shifter bracket. It came out of a mercury i believe.

  10. In 1976 and 1977 there were 1 1976 Hurst Olds in white,in 1977 there was 1 made in Black.I have all the documents on the 1976.My neighbor,was Bill Barto sr. director of Hurst performance in Warminister,Pa.,that is whom i purchased my car from.

  11. George Hurst was born in upstate NY in 1927 and his mother forged his fahers signature to enlist in the Navy. After he served in the Navy he settled down in PA. Just wanted to clarify this information. George Hurst was my fathers(James Hurst)cousin. James Hurst was born in 1927 and also enlisted in the US Marines at the age of 15.

    1. Thanks! I appreciate the correction — I’ve amended the text.

    2. Joe Hurst, I once heard many years ago that the Hurst Tool (Jaws Of Life ), Were developed after George Hurst daughter died in a car accident. Apparently they were not able to get her out of the car. Is this fact or fiction? I’m 50 and lived in Warminster,Pa back in High School. I’d pass the plant every day to school. I often wonder were the large sign is today that once graced the outside of the building. I still live in the area. I remember fondly seeing the 1983 Hurst Olds parked in the lot on the Street Rd side of the plant. I even attended the last car show before the plant was sold. I’m glad to of had the privilege to have walked those sacred grounds. Many thanks to the Hurst family for a still fabulous product.

      1. Don’t believe the rumors Gary Kleppe. I’m very much alive and well. I think it’s time for a few of the former Hurst Campbell, Hurst Performance employees to stop fantasizing about their role in the company. Since May of 1986 some of these people have gotten out of hand and I’m tired of sitting back while they do this, times are going to change.

        1. Hello Laurie Hurst. My Mother was Sherry Jean Hurst. I was given up for adoption and found my real Father recently. Richard P. Baker. They were married in 1969 but gave me up for adoption in 1966. Forrest Lamar was her dad and Jean Hurst was her mom. I was told that her Uncle was George Hurst. I was wondering if there is any of the family left alive? Sherry died in 2008 and never got to meet her. My 1st car was a 68 Camero with a Hurst shifter…this was 1986…wow what a trip

          Let me know Lisa Mckearney

    3. Joe, my father was born in New York City. My grandparents lived in a suburb of NYC. You are close but no cigar and that only counts in horseshoes. And My cousins will back me up.

      1. Thanks for the clarification, Laurie! If you or your cousins have any other factual corrections, let me know and I will incorporate them.

        1. (You can always feel free to contact me directly via the contact form if you have any concerns or clarifications.)

      2. your grandparents lived in Little Ferry N.J I knew them well. I also know your mom and Billy and Bobby Zimmerman. I was your fathers partner and helped get the company started. We built Capt. Smarts 46 Lincoln Continental. Ask your mom and while your at it give her my Best regards. Jim Rahm

    4. Sorry Joe my dad, George Hurst was born in New York City. And other than my aunt Dolores, my father never spoke of any relatives outside the immediate family. Please don’t cloud the issues on things you know nothing about. Since my fathers death, there have been enough people making statements that are not entirely true.

    5. I was raised in PA.. born in 1927, we had a neighbor George Hurst , he went in to the service, I think it was the Army. He and his brother bill and their father and a housekeeper Lena. lived close to us. we went to their house on Sat. nights to listen to the top ten. he was my friend while growing up a good friend no hanky panky just a friend . If any one reading this know if he is still living and know him My nick name was Jane Evans. I’d like to hear from him. Janet Laury Ho, TX.

  12. During my Sr. year in HS (78) I bought a 1973 HO black with a 455. Today; I would leave it stock. In 78 and 79 I added Hurst Hatch T-Tops, side-pipes and Western Wheel cyclone mags. She was a pretty thing.

  13. very interesting picture of the back up 1972 hurst pace car .does anybody have the vin numbers of those 2 cars ? or any history of there location ? thank you !

    1. I do not — sorry!

  14. Really interesting story start to finish. Much appreciated Aaron. In my opinion, George Hurst will always be a legendary icon & find myself truly saddened regarding the circumstances of his later years.
    I discovered H/O in 1974 @ age 16. It was late summer & I was finished with wheat harvest. My dad had sold me a ’67 F-85. It had a 330cid,automatic, & it was a 4 door. I became friends with 1 of the other harvest drivers whose dad ran a repair shop in the tiny town of Burdett Ks. Man,I was gonna drop this, chop that,& turn it into a real street demon. A few days after I’d brought the F-85 with me to start the transformation, my friends’s dad ran sum $numbers by me,telling me it was way too expensive ect. Besides he said, with all you want to do, “Why don’t you just get a Hurst/Olds”. My exact words were, “Get a what?”
    Naturally after a little research I was impressed. Later that day I headed for Wichita & the Holy Grail. I actually found a couple of ’68’s & test drove them,but they were really in bad shape. Next stop was KCity & the same thing. I recall being in a run down part of KC & stopped @ 1 of many hole in the wall used dealerships. By now I was just going thru the motions but I had to ask,”Sir do you have any Hurst / Olds?” This man was a polite elderly black gentleman & his reply was priceless. “What you want a Hearse for? They ain’t good for nuthn cept hauling around dead people!”
    Disappointed, I returned to the home place but gave it 1 more shot by placing an ad in the classifieds. “Wanted to buy. Hurst / Oldsmobile.”
    Low & behold a few days later I got a phone call. The guy was a cameraman for WIBW,didn’t want to sell but was curious about the ad. So me & dad arranged to meet him @ work & check out the car ect. It turned out to be a real sweet ’68 that he raced on weekends down @ Lawrence Speedway. I still remember the big old slicks he had in the trunk. We chatted a bit, then he asked me if I’d like to take it for a spin. Hah. The old WIBW/Menniger complex was extremely hilly with wicked curves. The guy was beside me, dad in the back seat. Before we took off he mentioned not to let the RPM’s get below such n such. I said sure, but I didn’t know what I was getting into. Almost right away the guy started freaking out, screaming about keeping the RPM’s up! I’m like wow,ok then,& punched the tar out of it… flattening the hills, straightening the curves. Later, on the way back home, dad finally said something, “Where’d you learn to drive like that?”
    I would go to 1988 before I realized my dream. A 1984 w 23K miles. I still own it w 56K now. I joined the HOCA in 2014 & realized another dream when I got to meet “The Doc” in Indianapolis. Very sad to hear he passed last year.

  15. The story of Hurst and GM is a fascinating story. It is really as much of a story about Pontiac. What most people don’t realize is that the Hurst M/T shifter/linkage,the Dual gate shifter or for that matter the Hurst built Oldsmobile’s. or any other aftermarket at GM product owe their existence to Pontiac division Knudsen/Estes/Delorean and advertising agency’s Jim Wangers. It was this foursome that finally convinced the corporation to approve using a popular outside product on GM cars as a adjunct to selling cars. All manufacturers today use this technique in selling cars.


  17. Hello,
    One minor correction in the article needs to be pointed out. The W-46 mentioned in the article was actually the air conditioned version of the 1968 Hurst/Olds. Essentially it was the same as an Oldsmobile 98 455 engine, but with the 4-4-2 exhaust manifolds & heat shroud, the Outside Air Induction Air cleaner assembly, notched 4-4-2 valve covers, a Police Apprehender 1111469 distributor,and the 400165 camshaft. This version was rated at 380 H. P.

    The non air conditioned W-45 455 was much more of a performance engine. Using the same 455 block a W-31 Ram Rod 350 camshaft (308 degrees duration, 88 degree overlap, and .474 lift) was used in conjunction with the 7028255 W-31 Quadra-Jet carburetor (.075 main jets vs the .072 in the W-46, plus calibration changes). W-30 400370 D casting heads were added along with the forementioned 4-4-2 exhaust manifolds and notched valve covers. A 4-4-2 automatic transmission and W-30 use 1111468 distributor rounded out the package.Both versions had the W-30, Turbo-Systematic OR code transmission, shifted by the Hurst Dual Gate shifter. A/C W-46 cars had 3.08 to one limited slip differentials, code S5 while non air W-45 cars received 3.91 limited slip gears. Both cars had heavy duty cooling; VO1 for the W-45, and Y72 for the W-46 version. Also, there were 64 Sport Coupe post cars and 451 Holiday Coupe hard top cars. This figure is in accordance with the Demmer Shipping Control list, which I have a copy of.
    Karl D. Sarpolis.
    Advisor, 1968 model year Hurst/Olds
    H/O Club of America

    1. The transmission was a Turbo-Hydra-matic OW coded W-30 400 type .

    2. Thanks for the clarifications. The one point about which I have to quibble is on the horsepower rating of the ’68 engine. Every source I’ve seen, including the 1968 Hurst/Olds brochure, lists output as 390 hp, although for 1969, the W-46 was indeed rated 380 hp. In either case, the rating is pretty clearly a nominal one and probably dictated by GM’s 10 lb/hp rule more than any technical point.

    3. Great details Karl. So how many 1968 cars had air conditioning?

      Are you able to provide similar enlightenment on the 1969 engine pair?

  18. Mcsilver, Karl is the authority, but I found lots of good info at and
    According to the first site, 153 were equipped with A/C and thus the W-46 engine:

    Aaron, awesome site with great, well-researched articles. One typo: “W-46 cars had a 3.91 axle for better dragstrip performance while air conditioned cars had a 3.08 axle to keep revs down and give the A/C compressor a fighting chance of survival.” Should say “W-45” that had the 3.91 rear.

    1. Whoops, you’re absolutely right — I fixed that in the text.

      Your comment had originally ended up in spam because it had links. This happens automatically; I don’t necessarily even see it at all unless I make a point of looking through the filtered comments, which usually amount to 100+ pieces of obvious junk a day. (This is why I have the filter set so aggressively — spammers keep finding new ways to go around whatever precautions I set.) Sorry about that!

  19. Aaron, one other omission I think worth correcting is the Lightning Rods shifters in the 1983 and 1984 Hurst/Olds. Although kind of a gimmick, as a young teen at the time I thought they were pretty cool!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments may be moderated. Submitting a comment signifies your acceptance of our Comment Policy — please read it first! You must be at least 18 to comment. PLEASE DON'T SUBMIT COPYRIGHTED CONTENT YOU AREN'T AUTHORIZED TO USE!