One of the Automotive World’s Greatest Brands
George Hurst was an inventor who made a fortune with his rugged shifters. They proved so durable and reliable that they became original factory equipment in top performance cars from all four American manufacturers during the muscle car era. The product’s reputation was cemented by the famous exploits of drag racing stars like Ronnie Sox, Herb McCandless, and Bill Jenkins, all of whom had great success in the first few years of Pro Stock.
Pro Stock was all the rage in the early seventies as the cars were more like what the fans drove than other classes, it was heads-up competition, and there were intriguing rivalries among the manufacturers and the drivers. The cars were also equipped with 4-speed manual transmissions, another aspect of the class to which fans could relate. In addition, NASCAR Grand National stock cars also had four speeds equipped with Hurst shifters. These four-speed virtuosos could execute their shifts without even disengaging the clutch, further elevating the importance of a precise shifter.
The shifter became a legend. And it would have been enough to make the Hurst name legendary as well, but there’s more. Hurst and his partners were extraordinary promotors. The hall of fame list of beloved Hurst promotions includes such icons as the Hurst Hemi Under Glass wheelstander, the Hurst Hairy Oldsmobile exhibition car, and the most revered promotion of all, the First Lady of Motorsports, the Lovely Linda Vaughn. Linda is still active today, and as this is being written she is attending the Motorsports Hall of Fame ceremony in Daytona Beach. She built her reputation as Miss Hurst Golden Shifter, or “Miss Hurst,” and has toured non-stop as a motorsports ambassador for more than 50 years.
Even with all that history, perhaps George Hurst’s greatest contribution to motor racing and indeed the world is the Jaws of Life. Originally designed to extract race drivers from mangled race cars, the Hurst Jaws of Life is a key asset of hundreds of rescue crews and fire departments across the country.
Another major part of the Hurst legacy is special edition performance cars including one of the greatest Oldsmobiles of all time, a car whose name said it all, the Hurst/Olds. Hurst also developed relationships with Pontiac, Ford, Dodge, Plymouth, and AMC. All the brands featured Hurst shifters during the heyday of muscle. Hurst also was involved in the creation of the Dodge and Plymouth factory Super Stocks in 1968 and worked with Mr. Norm’s Dodge to market some of his wild Mopar concoctions.
The Hurst/Dodge legacy continues with the striking Hurst Hellcat GSS found on the MaxMotive Pittsburgh Showroom Floor. GSS stands for Grand Spaulding Special, a historic moniker dating back to the 1970s. Only 50 GSS Hellcats are to be built, and each one is guaranteed to be “one of one.” You’ll also find the amazing Hurst Viper ACR at the Boca Raton FL store. George Hurst himself didn’t get to see all that he had accomplished, as he passed in an untimely manner at the age of 59. But beyond question, the Hurst name lives on as one of the most respected and trusted brands in not just high performance, but the entire automotive world.