George Hurst and the Hurst Olds

HURST WITHOUT HURST

By almost any standard, Hurst-Campbell had been extraordinarily successful throughout the sixties. Aside from his automotive business, Hurst also invented the Jaws of Life, a hydraulic rescue tool that remains standard equipment for firefighters and emergency workers. Profits were outstanding and in 1968, Hurst took the company public.

In 1970, Bill Campbell sold his share of the company to Sunbeam Products, the appliance manufacturer. With Campbell’s departure, Hurst no longer had a controlling interest and soon had no real operational control; he finally departed a few years later. It was a harsh blow — after spending 15 years tirelessly promoting his own name, Hurst lost the right to use it commercially in the field he loved.

The company went on without him. Hurst continued to develop new products throughout the seventies, although most were more like J.C. Whitney gimmicks than serious performance hardware: pointless accessories like custom mud flaps and gimmicky digital tachometers.

1979 Hurst Olds T-tops
With the near-demise of convertibles in the mid-seventies, sunroofs, moonroofs, and lift-off T-top roof panels became very popular. Hurst offered T-top conversions of a variety of cars, not just the H/O.

THE HURST OLDS PACE CARS

Hurst and Oldsmobile went their separate ways until 1972, when Hurst built a new H/O as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500. The Indy Pace Car program had nearly collapsed in 1971 after the previous entry, a Dodge Challenger driven by dealer Eldon Palmer, had crashed into the photographer’s grandstand, causing many injuries. Nonetheless, the program was still good publicity, so Hurst Performance decided to sponsor an Indy Pace Car for 1972: a souped-up Cutlass Supreme convertible with the now-obligatory white paint, gold stripes, and gold-painted wheels, driven by Jim Rathmann.

Hurst and Oldsmobile subsequently offered a new production Hurst Olds late in the 1972 model year. It once again had a 455 cu. in. (7,450 cc) V8, now rated at 270 net horsepower (201 kW). The W-30 Force-Air package was optional, boosting output to 300 net horsepower (224 kW), but it was rarely ordered. Production totaled either 624 or 629 units, fewer than 50 of which had the W-30 engine.

1972 Hurst Olds Pace Car front 3q © 2007 1969ho at English Wikipedia
The actual 1972 Indy Pace Car and its back-up (seen here at Oldsmobile’s 90th Anniversary celebration in 1987) were convertibles, but most of the ’72 production H/Os were hardtops. Hurst built a few Vista Cruiser station wagons in Pace Car trim for use by Indy 500 emergency crews, but it’s unclear if any H/O wagons were sold to the public. (Photo: “1972 Hurst Olds Pace Car” © 1987 1969ho at English Wikipedia; resized and used under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.5 Generic license)

Although the 1973 Indy Pace Car was a Cadillac Eldorado, there was again a production Hurst Olds for 1973, this time based on the newly restyled Cutlass “Colonnade” coupe. Mechanically, it was much like the ’72, with a 455 engine with either 275 or 300 horsepower (201 or 224 kW). Hurst built 1,097 of them.

A custom-built Hurst Olds convertible paced the 1974 Indy 500, leading to yet another production H/O. This time, the small-block 350 cu. in. (5,737 cc) V8 was standard, although the 455 was still optional. Hurst built 1,903 of the ’74s along with 92 full-size Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight convertibles with H/O badges.

The Cutlass-based Hurst Olds returned in 1975, now equipped with removable T-tops and various tacky cosmetic details, including a padded vinyl top with blind rear quarter panels. Perversely, the 1975 H/O was the most popular H/O yet, selling 2,535 units.

There were no H/Os in 1976 or 1977, although the Cutlass Supreme offered an optional Hurst-installed T-top roof, which included Hurst Olds emblems. By 1976, Oldsmobile no longer needed the image boost. The Cutlass was enjoying record sales and the factory couldn’t spare any cars for Hurst.

THE FINAL HURST OLDS

Like the 442, which lingered well after most of its direct rivals had disappeared, the Hurst Olds made several unexpected encore appearances, first in 1979 and again in 1983 and 1984. These latter-day Hurst Olds were a far cry from their tire-smoking predecessors, but they were the most popular of the breed. Oldsmobile sold 2,499 of the ’79s, 3,000 of the ’83s, and about 3,500 of the final 1984 models. There would have been an 1985 model as well, but Oldsmobile decided to revive the 442 instead, allegedly because Hurst wanted too much money for the use of the Hurst name.

1979 Hurst Olds
The 1979 Hurst Olds was based on the downsized Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais coupe, powered by the 350 cu. in. (5,737 cc) W30 engine with 160 net horsepower (119 kW). The ’79 was the only H/O built entirely by Oldsmobile; it was also the last hurrah for the Hurst Dual-Gate Shifter. Production totaled 2,499 units. This is one of only 537 equipped with the Hurst T-top roof.

George Hurst had reportedly become increasingly despondent over the past decade and on May 13, 1986, he was found dead in his garage in Redlands, California, an apparent suicide. He was 59 years old.

In 1987, about a year after Hurst’s death, Sunbeam sold the company to Mr. Gasket, Inc. Former “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter” Linda Vaughn returned to the fold, becoming Mr. Gasket’s vice president of public relations. For a while, Mr. Gasket even honored the original lifetime warranty on Hurst shifters, although they added a $45 handling charge.

The Hurst Olds name surfaced once last time in 1988. It was not a complete car, but an aftermarket kit, developed by Doc Watson and Tempe, Arizona-based Action Products. The kits were purely cosmetic and had to be installed by the customer, which was not a simple task. Fewer than two dozen were sold.

In 2007, Mr. Gasket sold Hurst Performance Products to B&M Racing. Now based in California, Hurst continues to manufacture shifters for manual and automatic transmissions, although McLeod Industries, another B&M subsidiary, now apparently make its shift linkages.

In November 2008, Hurst launched Hurst Performance Vehicles, offering special editions in the mold of the original Hurst Olds. To date, Hurst’s modified cars have included the Dodge Viper, the Ford Mustang, and the new Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro. In the summer of 2009, Doc Watson lent his name to Hurst’s final collaboration with Pontiac: a limited run of 52 supercharged Pontiac G8 sedans.

AFTERWORD

It’s easy to criticize GM for restrictive and arbitrary policies like its mid-sixties displacement limits, but we don’t know that they ultimately made much difference. Even if it had been possible to order a 428 Firebird or an SS427 Camaro or Chevelle without resorting to engine swaps and chicanery, we suspect that sales would have been very limited. Few customers appreciated the virtues of the big engines and fewer still could afford them — Chrysler’s experience with the 426 Hemi and 440 makes that clear enough.

Viewed in that light, offering the big engines in special editions like the Hurst Olds probably made a lot more sense. The H/O was still a car of narrowly focused appeal, but the limited production made it seem exclusive rather than just unpopular.

The original Hurst Olds is not really our sort of car, but it does arouse a certain curious nostalgia. It was the product of a more innocent era of marketing and product planning, when cross-promotion and co-branding were new and exciting concepts. In 1968, the idea that a former shade-tree hot-rodder like George Hurst could get his name on a production car — and an Oldsmobile, at that — was a novelty, an event. Within a few years, it had become all too ordinary, an increasingly calculated (if not cynical) exercise. It’s hard to imagine the average observer today feeling much frisson at the sight of an L.L. Bean Edition Subaru or the ubiquitous Eddie Bauer editions of Ford trucks and SUVs. We assume that if these branding mash-ups weren’t profitable, manufacturers wouldn’t bother, but the thrill is gone — cast off and long forgotten, not unlike George Hurst himself.

# # #


NOTES ON SOURCES

Our sources for the history of the Hurst Olds included “1966-1985 Oldsmobile Toronado,” Automotive Mileposts, n.d., automotivemileposts. com, accessed 10 November 2010; David E. Davis, Jr., “Modern Muscle: Grab your Frankie Valli cassettes and we’ll see you at the beach,” Car and Driver Vol. 31, No. 1 (July 1985), pp. 38-43; Helen Jones Earley and James R. Walkinshaw, Setting the Pace: Oldsmobile’s First 100 Years (Lansing, MI: Oldsmobile Division of General Motors Corporation, 1996); John Heilig, “Cutlass Supremacy: The Story of Oldsmobile’s 1973-77 Intermediates,” Collectible Automobile Vol. 22, No. 2 (August 2005), pp. 8–21; Hurtst-Campbell Inc., “Believe It” [1968 Hurst/Olds brochure] and “Muscle: 1969 Hurst/Olds” [1969 Hurst/Olds brochure]; Indypacecars.com, 1999, accessed 14 February 2010; John F. Katz, “1968 Hurst Olds: Catch-455,” Special Interest Autos #164 (March-April 1968), reprinted in The Hemmings Book of Oldsmobiles: driveReports from Hemmings Special Interest Autos magazine, ed. Terry Ehrich (Bennington, VT: Hemmings Motor News, 2001), pp. 108-115; the Old Car Brochures website (oldcarbrochures.org); C. Van Tune, “Retrospect: ’68 Hurst/Oldsmobile: The Day the Image Changed,” Motor Trend Vol. 44, No. 4 (April 1992), pp. 100-102; B.T. Van Kirk, “1968-84 Hurst/Oldsmobile: Executive Hot Rod,” Collectible Automobile Vol. 17, No. 3 (October 2000), pp. 8-21; and Oldsmobile Mail List Server Community, “Olds FAQ — Hurst Olds” (10 April 2000, The Olds FAQ, www.442. com/ oldsfaq/ofhos.htm, accessed 11 February 2009). Additional information on the life of George Hurst came from Jim Donnelly, “George Hurst: From garage rat to marketing genius,” Hemmings Muscle Machines September 2006; and Brian Lohnes, “Gearhead Guys You Should Know: George Hurst” (7 January 2009, Bangshift. com, accessed 12 February 2010).

We also consulted the following period road tests: Steve Kelly, “Mix in talent (Olds), a dash of ideas (Hurst), and blend thoroughly with endless strings of enthusiasm. Result: Hurst-Olds,” Hot Rod July 1968; Eugene Martin, “Tune Out the Feds,” Cars August 1968; “Hurst-Olds: An H/O Hauler: Another GM division pushed closer to the racing pits,” Road Test July 1969; and “Car Life Road Test: Oldsmobile Rallye 350: Beneath that gaudy paint and wing lurk bargains in performance and handling,” Car Life May 1970, reprinted in Oldsmobile Muscle Portfolio 1964-1971 (Muscle Portfolios), ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 1999); Bill Sanders, “H-O doesn’t stand for ‘Hairy-Olds,’ but maybe it should,” Motor Trend September 1968; Eric Dahlquist, “The Hairest Oldsmobile: Mr. Hurst and Dr. Oldsmobile build the mind shatterer, or, why Lucille will never be the same again,” Motor Trend June 1969); Karl Ludvigsen, “Bridging the Insurance Gap,” Motor Trend February 1970; “Car Life Road Test: Dr. Oldsmobile – Meet Dr. Hurst,” Car Life July 1969; John Pashdag, “73½ Hurst Olds: The Super-Car Still Lives!” Motor Trend June 1973; Jim McCraw, “HO Locomotive on a Grand Scale: A look at the street-legal version of the 1974 Hurst Olds that will lead 33 cars to the green flag at Indy this year,” Hot Rod May 1974; and Paul Garson, “Fine Lines: Oldsmobile 442, 1964-74,” Car Craft April 1988, reprinted in Cutlass And 442: Muscle Portfolio 1964-1974, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 1998).

Some details on the modern Hurst cars, including the 2009 Hurst-Pontiac G8, came from the Hurst Performance website and their 29 June 2009 press release (www.hurst-performance. com, accessed 12 February 2010).


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  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. My great-grandmother was a Hurst and before my grandmother passed, she told me that we were related to the Hurst’s of the Hurst Engines. Joe Hurst, would it be possible to contact you for more information about our family?

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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. MY DAD TOM HOEPFL ACTUALLY WORKED WITH GEORGE AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE SHIFTER ..THE BASE COMMANDERS WANTED FASTER CARS AND DAD AND GEORGE USED WILLOW GROVER NAS MACHINE SHOP ALSO SUPERCHARPERS OFF OF P 38 .. HAVE NAVY PICTURES OF THEM BOTH COUPLES HUNG OUT ON AND OFF DUTY ..LINCOLN CONTINENTAL 41 BALLS FAST FIRST LONG THROW THAN SHORT SHIFTERS ..DAD’S 87

  18. 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.
    Regards,
    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?

  19. Mcsilver, Karl is the authority, but I found lots of good info at http://www.hurstolds.com/ and http://www.442.com/oldsfaq/ofhos.htm.
    According to the first site, 153 were equipped with A/C and thus the W-46 engine: http://www.hurstolds.com/numbers/numbers_01.pdf

    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!

  20. 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!

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