Car of the Week: 1969 Hurst Olds

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Story and photos by Brian Earnest

Whether you preferred your cars flashy or refined, hair-raising or classy, heart-attack fast or just smooth and sophisticated, it was hard to find much to criticize with the early Hurst/Olds.

It was simply one of those rare cars that didn’t have many critics. Pretty much everybody agreed: these were some awesome machines, packed with loads of muscle power and wrapped in a killer zoot suit that couldn’t be mistaken.

If the Hurst/Olds wasn’t the coolest kid in school during the height of the muscle car craze, it was at least on the prom court. Like a lot of guys at the time, Bob Blattler of Manitowoc, Wis., lusted after the 1969 Hurst/Olds — the second year Olds and Hurst partnered up to produce a tricked-out 4-4-2 — but he had no hope of shelling out the $4,500-plus that it took to bring one home. “I liked them, but really I didn’t have any money and my kids were young,” said Blattler, re-telling a tale that countless domesticated males could relate to at the time. “I always wanted one, but I didn’t have the money to buy one then.”

Even if he could have afforded one, only 906 of the white-and-gold beauties were built for the 1969 model year, and there was no guarantee Blattler could have found a Hurst/Olds to buy when they were new. Of course, it was easier to get a 1969 version that it was the debut 1968 Hurst/Olds. That was the original Hurst/Olds, born when George Hurst of Hurst Performance Products took a GM 425-cid V-8, turned it into a 455 that could kick out 390 hp, and, together with entrepreneur and Olds supplier John Demmer, produced 515 fancied-up silver-and-black cars that had critics and hi-po fans raving.

“Ah yes friends, there really is a supercar without lumps in it,” proclaimed Super Stock magazine in its July 1969 issue.

All 1969 Hurst/Olds were based on the 4-4-2 Holiday two-door hardtop body style. Under the twin-scoop hood was a 455-cid “Rocket” V-8. Magazine tests at the time found the cars could run sub-14-second quarter-miles right off the lot. Not only did this car look great and ride better than most cars of its genre, it was really fast!

Buyers had the choice of heavy-duty Turbo Hydra-Matic or a close- or wide-ratio four-speed manual transmission. The Forced-Air induction engine was known as the W-46 option in Olds nomenclature, and featured most of the important go-fast goodies from the famed Olds W-30 option, including the cam, heads and distributor.

The Hurst/Olds was based on the mid-sized Cutlass and it was altered only slightly for the 1969 model year. The quad headlight system was brought closer together, and the grille and bumper area were given a less-cluttered frontal appearance. The Cutlass taillights were recessed and more vertical than the 1968s.

The Hurst/Olds again rode a 112-inch wheelbase and had an overall length of 201.9 inches. With a shipping weight of 3,716 lbs., it was not the lightest muscle car on the market, but the awesome power train and refined ride and aesthetics seemed to make for a good trade-off.

The crowning touches, of course, were the stunning gold graphics over the white paint scheme topped off with a huge strut-mounted rear spoiler that actually provided some functional down force when the car really took flight. The striping was officially named “Firemist Gold,” and it matched the “H/O 455” graphics on the serious-looking dual snouts protruding from the hood.

Blattler admits he had his eyes on his current ’69 for a long time before he was able to pry it away from its previous owner, but the long wait has proven to be worth it. I chased the car for eight years before I was able to buy it. I saw the guy at a car show in 1995, and I bugged him to buy it starting then, until 2003 when he sold it to me. It took awhile, but I was persistent. I wanted a 69, because I have had other Hurst Olds, and this is one I didn’t have, and I woundn’t take ‘no’ for an answer …

“I put new tires and springs and shocks on it, and it had been damaged in the right rear quarter, and I had that fixed and painted below the doors, but other than that the top surfaces are all original. I don’t know how many miles are on it, but it shows 43,000 on the odometer. It’s a pretty nice original.”

Blattler believes he is about the fourth owner of the car. The original buyer opted for the automatic transmission with no air-conditioning. About the only other options on the car are a three-spoke sport steering wheel and a rear-window defogger, “which is basically just a fan,” he said.

Values for nice examples of the 1969 Hurst/Olds have soared well above $50,000 on the collector market, but that hasn’t stopped Blattler from occasionally winding up his car and letting the 455 cubes make some smoke and noise. “It’s a blast. I had it on the drag strip, which is the first time I’ve ever done that, and it’s a blast,” Blattler said. “That’s what they were made for, to go in a straight line

“Sure, I watch out where I drive it. I drive it in the summertime and maybe put 500 miles a year on it, but it’s fun to get into the throttle … That’s what it’s for. You can’t hurt this car.”

SUGGESTED READING

Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942
Standard Guide to American Muscle Cars, 4th Edition
Nothin’ But Muscle: 199 Radical Rides

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