Photos by author.
A guy walks into a car show’s invitational display building with a pocket full of cash and a craving to buy a Hurst/Olds. He’s immediately greeted by a pristine example of a ’72, a ’74, and an ’84 that represent three different eras of the H/O’s production run…but he can only afford one of them. Which one should he buy? Which one would you buy if you had the opportunity?
This is a hypothetical situation, as the cars aren’t for sale, the guy walking into the Carlisle Expo Center (the location of the inaugural Hurst Nationals this past July 15 and 16) was me, and I likely had just enough money in my pocket to cover lunch at a fast-food joint. The H/Os, however, are quite real.
That thought of which one I’d buy if I could only have one stayed with me through the whole show. Luckily, Jack Hooks of Eastern, Pennsylvania, doesn’t have to make that choice, since he owns all three of these H/Os. In fact, he has an example of each year in his collection that also includes 4-4-2s and other Oldsmobiles.
Though an original G60-14 Goodyear Polysteel tire on an SS-III wheel remains in the trunk, the tires currently on the ’72 are reproduction Firestone Wide Ovals. The ’74 and the ’84 have non-stock tires.
The A-body Cutlass Supreme-based 1972 Hurst/Olds paced Indy, and vehicles sold to the public were Cameo White hardtops or convertibles. The W-45 Hurst/Olds package featured reflective Custom Laser Stripes in Hurst Gold, black accents on the headlamp and taillamp bezels, W25 Force-Air hood and induction system, Hurst/Olds emblems inside and out, and sport mirrors. Hardtops got a landau-style vinyl roof. A 270-hp 455 engine, Turbo-400 and 3.23-geared rear were included, as was dual exhaust with trumpets and cutout rear bumper, console with Hurst Dual Gate shifter, power disc brakes, Rallye suspension, and G60-14 Goodyear Polysteel tires on Hurst Gold painted 14 x 7 Olds SS-III wheels.
Checking off W-46 instead of W-45 got the buyer all the above-mentioned items, except the drivetrain was replaced with the 300-hp W-30 (L-77) 455 engine, HD cooling, recalibrated Turbo-400 and a 3.42 Anti-Spin differential. A/C wasn’t available with the W-46.
Additional options included a Hurst digital performance computer, auto security alarm system, Wheel-Guard Sentry, Indianapolis 500 pace car replica decal set, and an electric sunroof with integral wind deflector.
Jack’s ’72 has just 9,500 miles on its odometer and retains its original paint, interior, 270-hp 455, Turbo-400 and 3.23-geared differential with optional Anti-Spin. Of the 629 1972 H/Os produced, 130 were convertibles and 499 were hardtops. This H/O is one of just 220 hardtops with the optional sunroof.
In this comparison, the ’74 has the most prominent Hurst-added visual elements.
His ’74 H/O has accumulated 22,000 miles, still has its original paint, optional pace car decal kit and interior, and is one-of-380 with the W-30 455. It also sports the extra-cost Hurst digital tach, Loc/Lugs and Splash Guards.
The 1974 Hurst/Olds was built on the Colonnade-design A-body, which was introduced in 1973. Also like the ’73 Hurst/Olds, it was based the semi-fastback Cutlass S instead of the formal roof Supreme.
For the second time in three years, an H/O paced the Indy 500. Actual pace cars were modified for removable roof sections, which resulted in a “specially-styled rollbar effect,” according to the Hurst news release. Versions sold to the public were solid-roof coupes.
Each Cutlass S destined to become a Hurst/Olds was painted Cameo White or Ebony Black and equipped with 442 grilles and louvered hood, tinted windows, styled sports mirrors, white or black upholstery, swivel bucket seats, and a Custom Sports steering wheel. One of two drivetrain choices were installed.
The W-30 option package included an L-76 455 engine with HEI, low-restriction dual exhaust with chrome tips, specially calibrated Turbo-400, a 3.23 rear with A/C or 3.42 Anti-Spin rear without A/C, Rallye suspension, 15 x 7 SS-III wheels with H70-15 RWL tires, instrument panel gauges, and a console with a Hurst Dual Gate shifter. A “W-30” grille emblem and fender decals were also added.
The Y-77 option package instead provided the L-34 350 engine (180-hp with single exhaust, 200-hp with dual), Turbo-350 transmission, 2.73 rear gear, Rallye suspension, 14 x 7 SS-III wheels with G70-14 RWL tires, and a console with the standard Oldsmobile shifter.
Hurst’s conversion package added a fully padded vinyl roof in black or white with a contrasting-color padded vinyl simulated roll bar insert featuring recessed Hurst/Olds emblems, modified rear quarter windows, color-coordinated body accents and stripes, custom hood ornament with “Oldsmobile” script, and a Hurst/Olds interior emblem.
Additional Hurst options not already mentioned above included a Motor Minder Economy gauge, license plates, and auto alarm system.
Of the 1,800 Cutlass S based 1974 Hurst/Olds built, 1,420 were Y-77s, and the 350 was the only engine choice for California-bound H/Os.
The ’84 is the trimmest of this group and the ’74 is the largest and heaviest.
Jack’s ’84 Hurst/Olds is one of a precious few equipped an optional sunroof. There’s 40,000 miles on the odometer and the original paint, interior, and drivetrain with extra-cost limited-slip remain.
Based on the G-body Cutlass Calais, the 1984 H/O featured a 108.1 wheelbase, was 200 inches long and was 71.6 inches wide. That’s a 3.9-inch reduction in wheelbase compared to the ’72 and ’74. It’s also 3.6 inches shorter and 5.2 inches narrower than the 1972 H/O and considerably smaller and lighter than the ’74.
The W40 Hurst/Olds package included a 180-hp 307 with special cam and carburation, dual-outlet exhaust (not true dual exhaust), THM 200-4R four-speed overdrive automatic, 3.73 rear end, silver metallic over a black painted lower body and bumpers, red and black stripes, Hurst/Olds callouts and emblem, a front air dam, non-functional scooped hood, rear spoiler, black-accented grille and headlamp and rear lamp bezels, Hurst Lightning Rod shifter, F41 firm ride and handling package, and chrome and silver 15 x 7 Super Stock wheels with red stripes and RWOL 215/65R15 Eagle GT steel-belted radial tires. There were 3,500 1984 Hurst/Olds built.
An eye-catching appearance is part-and-parcel of a Hurst/Olds, thus in this comparison the ’74 goes the extra visual mile with pace car decals and the padded top with contrasting simulated roll bar effect. Given the power-to-weight ratios, the ’72 would be the quickest. With the 307, overdrive, and lighter weight, the ’84 would offer the best fuel mileage and low rpm highway cruising. If you like semi-open-air cruising, the ’72 and ’84 have a sunroof. If you want to stay cool, keep in mind that only the ’84 has A/C in this comparison. All three of these H/Os have power steering and power front disc brakes. The best handler would probably be the ’84 given its size, weight, and suspension components.
If, however, you plan to only show your H/O and never drive it, none of what was discussed in the previous paragraph really matters. Your decision will more likely be based on styling preference, nostalgia, and/or collectability. The first two points are subjective, and regarding the third, selling prices vary widely, but generally the ’72 usually exceeds the values of the ’74 and ’84 if all are in the same condition. The ’74 is probably the most seldom seen of this group at shows today, so that’s yet another consideration to mull over.
I get nostalgic for the ’72 and ’74, because we had a 1970 Cutlass Supreme in the family and I’ve owned a ’73 Hurst/Olds since the early 1990s. I’ve also been a fan of the ’83 and ’84 editions since they were introduced, so after all this discussion I still can’t pick one. Hopefully you are more decisive than I am. Which one of these three H/Os would you buy and why?