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Vintage Muscle: 1968 Hurst/Olds

One of the greatest muscle cars of its generation
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He was right, too. Back then, Oldsmobile had a quality-car image that couldn’t be beat, and Hurst had a high-performance image that other aftermarket firms would kill for. Teaming up these two companies was a marriage made in heaven and produced one of the most legendary muscle machines.

For 1968, what had formerly been the largest Olds engine offering, at 425 cid, was punched out to a full 455 cid. GM brass would not permit the cramming of the new 455 into the 4-4-2 platform, but this didn’t stop George Hurst, of Hurst Performance Products, from trying it on his own. So successful was his effort that he — along with Olds officials — got entrepreneur and Oldsmobile supplier John Demmer of Lansing, Mich., to assemble clones of Hurst’s car in his own facility on a limited basis. This is how the first Hurst/Olds was born!

To power the Hurst/Olds, the 4-4-2’s standard 400-cid engine was replaced with a Force Air 455 with a 10.5:1 compression ratio that was beefed-up internally to develop 390 hp at 5,000 rpm and 500 ft.-lbs. of torque at 3,600 rpm. The big W45 motor was based on the Toronado engine, but built with a special crankshaft, a custom-curved distributor, special carburetor jets, a 308-degree camshaft with a .474-inch lift and hand-assembled Ram-Air cylinder heads. The powerplant was hooked to a modified Turbo Hydra-Matic with a Hurst Dual-Gate shifter that could be shifted like a manual transmission or used like an automatic.

A heavy-duty rear end incorporated a standard 3.91:1 rear axle. Also included as part of the package were specially calibrated power disc-drum brakes, a heavy-duty suspension, a heavy-duty cooling system with a high-capacity radiator and viscous-drive fan and G70-14 Goodyear polyglas tires. The entire car was dressed up in a special silver-and-black trim package that looked very distinctive.

A total of 515 Hurst/Olds were built for 1968. Of these, 451 were based on the 4-4-2 Holiday two-door hardtop, while the remaining 64 were originally 4-4-2 coupes. No Hurst/Olds were produced in convertible form. Super Stock magazine road tested the 4-4-2 and reported a top run of 12.9 seconds for the quarter-mile at 109 mph.

The Hurst/Olds partnership proved to be quite an image-boosting program for the GM division and the two companies went on to team up on other Hurst/Olds models for many years.


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