The Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds didn’t begin as an Oldsmobile model, but rather developed from George Hurst’s relationship with Pontiac. The whole thing began when Pontiac installed Hurst shifters in the 1964 GTO. The shifters did not have the iconic HURST branding on the side that first year, but did beginning in 1965. Outside of tires, it was the first time an outside manufacturer’s name appeared so prominently on any GM car.
George Hurst came to Pontiac with the idea for a performance package that would be an option on the Firebird. Hurst suggested Pontiac send Firebird rollers, or cars that were complete less drivetrain, and Hurst would stuff them full of Big Block goodness, and send the cars back to Pontiac. This would allow Pontiac a way around GM’s internal edict limiting engine displacement to 400 cubic inches in small and mid-size cars (this rule didn’t apply to the Corvette). Chevrolet objected, afraid the hot new Firebird would eat into Camaro sales. GM stopped the project before it was put into motion. Hurst then approached Oldsmobile with the scheme, but with the idea to install the Big Block in the Olds Cutlass. The Cutlass was a Pontiac GTO competitor, but Pontiac didn’t object, and the Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds was born.
The Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds was powered by a 455 cubic-inch Big Block Rocket V8 installed at Demmer Engineering. The engine made 390 horsepower and a pavement-wrinkling 500 pound-feet of torque. The Hurst/Olds had a ram-air intake beneath the front bumper, and was finished in Toronado Peruvian Silver with a black trunk lid, black stripes with white pinstripes. Inside the H/O were bucket seats, a walnut instrument panel, and a console featuring Hurst’s unique dual gate ratcheting shifter. Oldsmobile was overrun with orders, but produced only 515 Hurst/Olds for the 1968 model year.
The Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds returned for the 1969 model year. Gone was 1968’s Peruvian Silver and black paint scheme, replaced by Cameo White with Firefrost Gold stripes, accents, hand-laid black pinstripes, and blacked-out grilles. The ram air intakes that had been located beneath the front bumper had morphed into a pair of mail slot-style hood inlets that had “H/O 455” printed on either side. There were also stylized “H/O” emblems on the front fenders and rear deck lid. 913 copies of the H/O left the factory. The Hurst/Olds would not return until 1972.
The 1972 Hurst/Olds was developed not by the factory, but by Hurst Performance. Because of an accident with the pace car at the 1971 Indy 500, the Big Three American car manufacturers were hesitant to provide any pace cars for the 1972 race. Hurst Performance came through with the 1972 Hurst/Olds, the first time a supplier’s name was included in a Pace Car’s title, and the only time a supplier other than a manufacturer has provided an Indy Pace Car. A total of 629 Hurst/Olds were built in both coupes, convertibles, and six station wagons for press and ambulance use, all of which are considered Pace Cars. They were powered by the 455 rated at 255 horsepower, or an optional L77 455 that came as part of the W-30 option and was rated at 300 horsepower. All H/O Pace Cars were equipped with the Turbo-Hydramatic three-speed automatic transmission with the iconic Hurst dual gate shifter. The ’72 Hurst/Olds was finished in Cameo White as before, but the stripes were gold decals.
Our feature 1972 Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds Pace car is a two-owner example. It is a coupe, one of 220 equipped with a sunroof. The Hurst/Olds has been the subject of recent mechanical refurbishment. It is finished in Cameo White with correct gold stripes, and Indy Pace Car livery decals. The coupe is equipped with the 455 cubic-inch V8 backed by the TH400 three-speed automatic transmission, 3.23 rear differential, power steering, power brakes, air conditioning that has been updated to R134A, cruise control, and SS II wheels wrapped in raised white-letter BFGoodrich Radial T/A rubber.
Included in the sale of this rare 1972 Oldsmobile Hurst/Olds Pace Car are the original sales documents. It will cross the Mecum Auctions block at their Kissimmee Summer Special event taking place July 6th through the 8th.