The cars we loved.
The mid seventies may not have been a bright spot for the Big Three in America, but there were a few interesting cars to have come out of this dreadful era. For Oldsmobile, its 442 had become wildly popular. So popular had the 442 become, that Oldsmobile would market the ultimate version of the Cutlass with Hurst Automotive, a supplier of performance parts for the 442. The new special editions simply called the Hurst Oldsmobile launched in 1968 with a 390 hp V8 engine.
Although there was no Hurst edition every year, they did appear with an almost regular occurrence. By 1975 the federal government’s new EPA restrictions were taking hold of the automotive industry. The Hurst car for 1975 would be a departure from previous 70’s era cars in that it had a formal roof line derived from the Cutlass Supreme as opposed to the sleeker Cutlass S model. 75’ would be the last of the ‘Colonnade era hard top cars, but with a twist due to a removable T Top roof called the Hurst Hatch.
The Hurst Hatch was GM’s first use of a T Top and as such was troublesome in the Hurst Olds. The seals around the removable smoked glass panels leaked but could be stored in a pocket in the trunk when the weather was nice. Pontiac would refine the T-Top later in cars like the Trans-Am. Another feature of the top was a vinyl covering that obscured the rear quarter panel window. The resulting look was somewhat elegant compared to the last Hurst car.
Elegant was just fine because many of the teens of the 60’s were now looking for more refined cars that still had some muscle car youth appeal, but were not as rough around the edges. Camaros and Firebirds remained popular, but sales sporty intermediates like the Cutlass were increasing and the Hurst offered the best of both worlds. The Cutlass provided an agreeable amount of comfort and near luxury (if so equipped), while the Hurst influence promised some level of performance. This delicate balance was maintained mostly by keeping as much of the Cutlass intact as possible to keep costs down.
One example of keeping cost down was in the interior. Although the Hurst models did have a unique color combination, its sport console dash was no different from any run of the mill Cutlass Supreme. The 75’ Hurst Oldsmobile however was available with a distinctive black and white interior vinyl and velour interior. The exterior also came in either black or white with gold stripes and accents. The b/w theme was continued with the half vinyl tops accented and are accented by an aluminum band. Like other “A” bodied GM cars, the Hurst Olds featured swivel seats that allowed for easy entry or exit.
As expected all cars came with the famous Hurst dual gate shifter managing a 3 speed automatic transmission. Depending on the engine choice your Hurst would come with GM’s smooth shifting Turbo Hydra-Matic 350 or 400. For a performance car, it might have seemed odd that these cars came with only an automatic transmission. Considering the more mature target market moving from older muscle cars, this made since.
Perhaps the biggest changes beyond the outwardly appearance was under the hood. The Hurst car was available with two V8 engine choices: a 350 or 455 (170 or 190 hp). Today this power range has become the norm for small four cylinder family cars. In 1975 it was considered high performance thanks to catalytic converters which were required for the first time. So emasculated was the V8’s power ratings, that it made do with a single exhaust. Forward thrust may have been hampered, but stopping was improved thanks to power front disc brakes vs. the standard car’s unassisted power brakes. Like all Cutlasses, the rear brakes consisted of drums.
Depending on the engine choice, your car was equipped with either the W-25 or W-30 handling package that consisted of a coil sprung suspension with unequal length upper and lower A arms all around. Both suspension packages featured front and rear anti-roll bars in varying thicknesses. That suspension rolled on special 15’ gold “Super Stock” rims that were large for the time.
Despite all the handicaps imposed by the EPA, the 1975 Hurst Olds was the bestselling Hurst up to that point. With sales over 2,500 units, it toppled even the highly revered 73’ model most sought after by collectors today. Even with the record sales, strangely, there would not be another Hurst Olds edition until 1979.