When Marc Jungerman bought a 1969 Hurst/Olds Cutlass a little over a year ago, little did he know that this car would lead him on a journey that has been the automotive equivalent of an archeological dig. What he found, after uncovering several layers of ownership, is a car that is truly unique.
By TOM STRONGMAN
The Hurst/Olds was a limited-production Cutlass modified by Hurst Performance Research, an aftermarket company known primarily for it high-performance transmission shifters. The 1969 had a slightly hotter 455-cubic-inch V-8 with 380 horsepower, special hood and trunk spoilers and white paint with gold stripes. About 913 were built in 1969.
Jungerman, of Independence, bought this Olds because he has always been a fan of the Hurst/Olds and he figured it would be a good investment. The first thing that made him curious was this car’s VIN number that indicated it was built in January. All of the factory-produced Hurst/Olds cars had VIN numbers indicating they were built in March or later. The car’s Protect-O-Plate warranty card listed Hurst Performance Research as the car’s first owner, so that also piqued his interest.
Gary Cox, of Janesville, Wis., was one of the car’s early owners. He bought the car late in 1972 when he worked for Swede Clark’s Courtesy Oldsmobile in Janesville. Cox said the car had white pearl paint, gold wheels, Hurst shock absorbers, Hooker headers and line locks for drag racing. Line locks apply the front brakes independent of the rear and are used on the starting line of a drag strip. Cox had an 8mm movie of his wedding that showed the car’s pearl paint, and that was an important part of unlocking the car’s provenance. Cox took the car to Oregon when he moved, and sold it there.
Jungerman tried a title search but ran into several dead ends, so he hired an attorney to search Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicle records. That unlocked the car’s title history, and Jungerman began trying to locate former owners. Dozens of phone calls finally led him to many of the people who had been in contact with the car, and each one filled in some details about the car’s history. Many questions remained, however.
Jungerman’s research led him to Jack (Doc) Watson. Watson confirmed that the car was a Hurst exhibition model used to promote Hurst products, and it was raced on drag strips. He said that Chuck Miller, a well-known Detroit custom car guy, painted the car.
Jungerman tracked down Miller, and he confirmed what Jungerman suspected: This car was the prototype 1969 Hurst/Olds, and it was built for George Hurst, company founder. Talk about striking gold.
Miller described how the car went through various permutations as a prototype. At one time it had an unusual rear spoiler with tusk-like extensions mounted to the rear fenders and a gold stripe painted on the rear glass. Jungerman looked inside the trunk of his car and found evidence of holes in the rear fenders that had been welded shut. Close examination of the rear window revealed scrapings of gold paint around the edge where the paint had been removed.
Jungerman decided to put the car back in its original livery since it was the first 1969 prototype. He paid Gary Cox, one of the early owners and a body man, to come to Independence to repaint the car in its original pearl finish. Cox lived there for six weeks, and his paintwork is flawless.
The interior is unrestored and in quite good shape. The headrests have gold stripes that are another clue to the car’s prototype status. The 455-cubic-inch engine is like the one that would have been in the car when new.
Jungerman’s work has paid off and he now owns a documented piece of automotive history.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail address is email@example.com. To read other Gallery stories, go to tomstrongman.com.