John Henricks, courtesy of Mecum Auctions

A refined street brawler

  • Sold new by Minyard Motors Inc., Anderson, SC
  • Documented with Hurst Performance Research papers, original build sheet and factory warranty books
  • Completely frame-off restored from late 1990s to early 2000s
  • Completed by Nyle Wing, Wings Auto Art in Ionia, MI
  • Restoration completely documented with photos start to finish
  • Matching-numbers engine
  • 455/380-hp V8 (#396021F) code QE, Ram Air hood
  • Turbo 400 transmission (#69OH1352)
  • Posi rear end (SH-3.23 ratio)
  • Power steering and disc brakes
  • Tilt steering column
  • Factory tach, gauges and AM/FM radio
  • Factory 15-inch wheels with Goodyear tires
  • Factory air conditioning

SCM Analysis


This car, Lot F244, sold for $80,250, including buyer’s premium, at the Mecum Original Spring Classic in Indianapolis, IN, on May 14, 2013.

The Hurst/Olds was one of the first American supercars. It was groundbreaking for GM — this project broke the corporate rules on engine size in an intermediate A-body car, and that made it a hot performer on the streets. And it looked great, too.

A new performance Olds

The H/O was the result of a collaboration between Hurst’s “Doc” Watson and Oldsmobile Division chief engineer John Beltz. In the mid-1960s, Oldsmobile was left behind in the sales race in spite of good, solid muscle cars like the 442, which had powerful options such as the 400-ci triple-carb L69 and W-30.

Beltz complained to Watson about how much press Pontiac’s GTO got whenever something new came out. Watson replied, “You’ve got a 455 V8 going into the big cars; why don’t we do a special car and put a 455 into an A-body?” Beltz liked the idea and got management to buy into a special concept car, provided the engine was installed off-premises, skirting around the GM corporate limitations that kept engines at or under 400 cubic inches in anything other than Corvettes, full-size cars and trucks. The vision was to create an executive muscle car and forever kill the “Menopause Manor” impression that performance fans had of Oldsmobile.

At the same time, Watson realized that the young kids who had dreamed about 1957 J2s and the original Rocket 88s had grown up. They were now at their peak spending power and could afford a luxurious hot rod. So the Hurst/Olds was designed as a loaded machine with most luxury options included in the price. Only a few items such as air conditioning and 8-track player were optional.

From 442 to H/O

Starting in 1968, John Demmer Engineering handled the cars’ transition from factory 442s to Hurst/Olds. The cars were shipped to a facility in Michigan, where the Peruvian Silver and black paints were applied along with a special Hurst Dual Gate shifter, walnut dash appliqués, badges, Hurst wheels and other goodies. Interestingly, the production cars’ 455 engines were installed at the Oldsmobile plant, not at the special Hurst facility. This broke GM’s strict rules concerning engine size limitations, but the story that Hurst dropped in the motors kept the GM high-ups content, even if it wasn’t true. Only 515 units were built in ’68, but the package worked, and those cars sold like wildfire.

Oldsmobile ramped up the excitement for 1969. They added an aluminum intake manifold, D-code cylinder heads, recurved the distributor, fitted a W-30 camshaft, installed a vacuum-operated Outside Air Induction system with two large scoops sticking out of the hood, and fitted a large rear spoiler on the trunk lid.

A total of 914 examples were built in ’69, including two convertibles. All were finished in Cameo White with Firefrost metallic gold accents and 455 HO callouts on the scoops. Imported sports mirrors, a special rear spoiler and unique SSII wheels with gold inserts and solid chrome rim were added, along with F60x15-inch Goodyear Polyglas tires. The overall look screamed performance.

And the Hurst/Olds had the power to back it up, too. These 455 engines were rated at 380 hp, but the big news was the massive 500 ft-lbs of torque, which pushed the car to low 14-second ETs. Super tuning, a set of headers and slicks whittled that time down to low 12s. This was phenomenal performance for 1969, and that, along with the overstated looks and low production, made them into icons.

Rarities, rivalries and values

Only a few other midsize cars were available with limited-production big-block engines in 1969; the Camaro ZL1 and GM COPO variants, Mustang Boss 429, Shelby GT500 and ’Cuda 440. All of these except the Shelby GT were stripped cars. Performance-wise, an H/O compares with a Shelby GT500 automatic or Boss 429. There were lots of faster muscle cars available. A Super Bee 440 Six Pack was faster, but none had the aura of a limited-production, loaded car. In the luxury muscle car class, the H/O’s closest rival was the Shelby GT500.

Among those cars, in terms of bang for the buck, the H/O ranks near the top of the list. Today, Boss 429s are in the $250,000 range for restored examples with low miles; very expensive compared with a Hurst/Olds. A COPO Camaro or Chevelle is in nosebleed territory. The Shelby GT500 is a $100,000-plus car in comparable condition to our subject car — you can find some nice GT500 examples for the same price as this H/O, but they’ll need work before they’re the same quality. When you consider that most muscle cars lacked features such as air conditioning and plush interiors, the Hurst/Olds starts to look even better.

Best of the best

Many of these cars have survived, but quite a few are missing their original engines or other crucial parts such as cylinder heads or intake. For many years these were just used cars, and once they left the original owners’ hands, were modified extensively. Examples like this often sell in the high $30k to mid-$40k range, depending on the quality of restoration and which parts are missing. Since Oldsmobile added a partial VIN to the engine in ’69, a nice numbers-matching example with documentation and extras like air conditioning is a real bonus.

Where’s the top of the market for these cars? A fantastic example is the Hurst Heritage cover car with its numbers-matching drivetrain and desirable options such as air conditioning and 8-track player. It was fully restored and listed in the Hurst Registry — as good as it gets for quality and provenance. It sold for $91,690 at Mecum’s Kissimmee sale in January 2012.

Our subject car was also a matching-numbers example that had been given a complete photo-documented, frame-off restoration. It featured a bunch of original paperwork as well, which helped boost its value even further.

Considering what you’d have to pay to restore one to the level of our subject car, or what you’d have to pay to buy a competitive make, $80,250 doesn’t seem out of line. In fact, I’d call it a good deal for what the car was — and once the market for American muscle heats up a little more, this car at this price will seem cheap. Call it well bought and decently sold.

(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.)

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