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

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


Caddy215 said...

Any body kno where its at? Contact me at

buckhead said...

I know where a black and gold t-top 53,000 original mile farmfresh everything there including the window sticker waiting to be cleaned up one is for sale

Anonymous said...

"black and gold" I am interested - please email @

Anonymous said...

Iown a 79 hurst cutlass body in good condition. The body in good condition.Been covered in shed. Not going to refurbish.Want to sell.

Anonymous said...

What are these worth.... I have a gold/ white with 43,000. Birch61&

Rcbreezy said...

I have 79 w-30 how else can I tell if its a real w-30

Anonymous said...

How much u want for it

Unknown said...

I have a Dual gate shifter with console. Text me at 214-554-3810

Anonymous said...

Still have the dual gate & console?

Anonymous said...

Fuck off, stop being greedy.

Unknown said...

I am interested in the two front grills

Anonymous said...

White/gold? With moon roof?

Tim FOrd said...

The 1979 Olds L34 “R” code 350 was a much stronger block, even with windowed man webs, then the 403. The 403 has a number of issues. The cylinder walls are thin with no water jackets running in between each cylinder. Because of this the max bore you can do to the 403 block is .40 over. Boring it .40 over with thin cylinder walls and no water jackets, will cause the likely hood of over heating. The 403, like the 350, is also windowed man webs which means that the block cant handle repeated high RPM’s. The 403 also has a hard time dealing with high cylinder pressure.

Rumor has it that if you can find a 403 out of a Buick with the factory tow option or a T/A with the factory tow option, those 403 blocks are solid man webs.

When I bought my original unrestored survivor 79 Hurst/Olds W-30 In December of 1999 at the age of 17, for several years I use to wonder why they didnt go with the 403 since GM was telling Olds to get rid of them. But knowing what I know about the 403, Im glad Olds went with the L34 “R” code 350 and not the Olds 403.

And one other thing to note. The 1979 Hurst/Olds W-30 was Technically an “A” body. The 1978 - 1980 Cutlass was an “A” body car. The 1981 Cutlass is when Oldsmobile went from the A body to a G body. Dont get me wrong, the ‘78 - ‘80 Cutlass has been lumped in to the G body classification since for ever but technically by the books, Olds still called it an A body. The Olds 1979 Cutlass shop mechanics Manuel even refers to the Cutlass as an A body.

Tim Ford said...

The factory 14” Olds Aluminum Sport Wheels where introduced in 1978. Painted argent silver, the 14” factory Aluminum Sport Wheel was the top Cutlass wheel option as well as the highest priced wheel option available. The 14” Aluminum Sport Wheel option was not a popular option due to it being the highest price wheel option available from Oldsmobile. For 1979, the 14” Olds Aluminum Sport Wheel was panted Gold and used on the ‘79 Hurst/Olds W-30. For 1980, the 14” Olds Aluminum Sport Wheel kept the same gold paint used the previous year on the Hurst/Olds W-30 and was used on the ‘80 442 W-30. For 1981, the Olds 14” Aluminum Sport Wheels that Oldsmobile still had remaining in there wheel inventory, were painted back to the standard Argent Silver and was again the top factory wheel option for the ‘81 Cutlass until inventory stock ran out.

The 14” Olds Aluminum Sport Wheel was very expansive for Oldsmobile to produce. Oldsmobile lost money on ever 14” Aluminum Sport Wheel they produced. With these wheels being the top and most expansive factory option for the ‘78 Cutlass and selling far less then Olds had expected, the wheel was only a one year production and what Olds had in inventory found there way onto the ‘79 H/O W-30 and ‘80 442 W-30. And the wheels that were still available, were used as the top wheel option for the 1981 Cutlass until there were no more 14” Olds Aluminum Sport Wheels available.

In saying all of that, they are a pretty rare factory wheel. Finding a compleat set of Gold wheels with center caps is do able if you know the right channels to go through and know where to look but even still, they are pretty rare. Iv seen several times people paying over $1000 for a compleat set of the Gold painted Aluminum Sport Wheel. Any time I come across either the standard Argent Silver or the Gold painted 14” Aluminum Sport Wheel that someone is either selling or just getting rid of, I try to at least make a fair offer for it. Sooner then later the day will come where theres no more of these wheels available for sale and the ones that do have them are not willing to give them up.

Theres a lot of history, even though its short history, theres still history with these factory Aluminum Sport Wheels and the fact that they were part of the ‘79 H/O W-30 package makes them that much more special. You cant have a full dollar if your missing a couple of pennies. Just the same, you cant have a compleat 79 Hurst/Olds if its got after market wheels on it.

Anonymous said...

They weren't being greedy but you're definitely being an ass.

Anonymous said...

I just picked up a set of complete 1979 H/O W-30 gold aluminum sport wheels if anyone is interested. I live in Pittsburgh PA.