Sunday, April 24, 2011

1979 Hurst Olds W-30 Cutlass, it's a supreme G-Body junkyard find of the rarest kind


Striking junkyard gold with a 1979 W-30 Hurst/Olds. What's an unmistakable Oldsmobile beauty doing in a place like this? It's like seeing a tramp stamp (lower back tattoo) peeking out above the skirt on the preacher's daughter. On Easter Sunday, no less. Somebody needs to respect this car's rare lineage, made possible by 'Doc' Watson, "father" of the Hurst/Oldsmobile. I know it's hard to look away when you see things you shouldn't see, especially in certain places. I'm not talking about the tattoo.


The crown jewel in this 1979 H/O Hurst is the Dual/Gate, his and hers shifter mounted in the Oldsmobile sport console. 1979 was the last year for the Hurst Dual/Gate shifter.

Linda Vaughn, where are you?
Linda Vaughn
  This rare rocket, one of 1,165 in Cameo white, is a W-30 Cutlass that landed in a Woodstock, Alabama junkyard sans two gold 14x6 wheels and missing most of its dignity. If you squint your eyes, can you imagine Linda Vaughn, the legendary Miss Hurst Shifter, of tight, gold jumpsuit fame, strolling around this junkyard W-30? The golden-haired, former Hurst spokesmodel would be stomping mad. "How dare someone deface a Hurst shifter knob!" an indignant Vaughn might say, after seeing the stripped Dual/Gate shifter handle protruding through the crusty center console
  Thirty-two years and an untold number of abusive owners rode roughshod in this '79 Hurst/Olds. Looking at the aftermath of such neglect is shameful to H/O owners everywhere.


1979 Hurst/Olds rocket has landed in an Alabama junkyard.

Hurst gold is expensive 
  In 1979, the Hurst/Olds edition Cutlass, tattooed with W-30 decals and H/O emblems, was anything but cheap. A $2,054 option, or a 34% markup, was added to the Oldsmobile Cutlass coupe’s base $5,800 sticker price. The W-30, Hurst/Olds option price was a lot to chew on at the end of the disco decade. Well-heeled, H/O title holders stacked the option list even higher, exceeding the '79 Corvette's hefty $10,220 sticker price. Some Cutlass H/Os left dealerships with astounding $11,000-plus sticker prices.

W-30 Olds contour reclining front bucket seats have spilled their guts.

Why limited production of Hurst/Olds?
  Due to stringent EPA regulations, which required certifying engine/transmissions combos with specific models, Oldsmobile couldn't mass produce H/Os with Oldsmobile's largest engine – the 403-cubic inch V8, since it wasn't certified for the Cutlass. This marked the end for 455-cubic inch H/Os (I know, the 455 was already gone) but Oldsmobile found a loophole in the EPA’s plan, which also kept the GM bean counters happy.  
  As long as fewer than 2,500 vehicles were built, any engine/transmissions combo currently built by Olds could be used in the Cutlass. Oldsmobile decided to equip all Hurst/Olds with their 170hp 350 V-8 engines and Turbo 350 automatic transmissions. Not stout by today’s standards but no slouch for late-’70s V-8s. 
  The Olds 403-cubic inch engine, used in Olds Eighty-Eights, Olds Ninety-Eights and  ‘79 Pontiac Trans Ams would have been a better choice for upholding the Hurst/Olds biggest factory cubic inch tradition. The down-sized Cutlass on the G-body platform seemed destined for a small block from the beginning.  


537 H/O Cutlasses were equipped with Hurst Hatch roof panels in 1979. This one was not.

How rare are Hurst/Olds?
   Production of the ‘79 Hurst/Olds was limited to 2,499 buyers. The special edition H/Os were offered in Ebony black with gold trim (1,334 produced) and Cameo white with gold trim (1,165 produced). The rarest '79 H/Os were three built by Hurst Performance with gold-anodized Hurst Hatch roof panels. A total of 537 H/Os had the non-anodized Hurst Hatches. Our junkyard H/O is a solid roof survivor with solid floor pans to match.
  Less than 16,000 Hurst/Olds were built between 1968 and 1988. The H/O option was available on '68, '69, '72-'75, '79, '83 and '84 model Olds Cutlasses. In 1988, four H/Os were special ordered and built by 'Doc' Watson to salute the last production year of the rear wheel drive Cutlass. This is the first Hurst/Olds I've seen at a junkyard. It's a rare find that likely won't last long before it meets the crusher.

  If you see a rare car at the junkyard send photos and info to junkyardlife, email junkyardbull@gmail.com

Squared-off Cutlass header panel remained until a redesign in 1981 introduced the shovel-nosed grille.

Junkyard scavengers, Ron Kidd and Anthony Powell, bench race the specs of the battered '79 W-30 Hurst/Olds.

97,081 miles on the odometer of this junkyard 1979 Hurst/Olds. Dig the push button cruise control switch (lower left) on the dash?


1979 Hurst/Olds were factory equipped with Goodyear 205/70R14 tires.


Rallye cluster gauge option found on all 1979 Hurst/Olds.

Would-be drag racers hammered away on the right lane of the Hurst/Olds Dual Gate automatic shifter without fear of slamming the tranny into reverse at 50 MPH. Been there, done that.

W-30 is the engine option code for Hurst equipped Oldsmobiles.

Hurst/Olds "H/O" sail panel emblems have been peeled away.

1979 Hurst/Olds featured 14 X 6 inch (N78 option) gold painted cast aluminum sport wheels. These wheels were offered in 1978 but weren't gold.

Rocket emblems were black on all 1979 Hurst/Olds, red on all other Cutlasses. This detail may confirm your Olds is in fact a W-30 Hurst/Olds.
  If you see a rare car at the junkyard send photos and info to junkyardlife, email junkyardbull@gmail.com