1979 Hurst/Olds W30

‘Malaise-Era’ cars made up for their lack of power in other ways; this one got two-tone paint, the obligatory Hurst Dual Gate shifter, and became one of the more memorable muscle cars of that unmemorable period
By Imran Malik, Features Writer
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March 22, 2017
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When Oldsmobile introduced the new Cutlass in 1968 and then George Hurst stuck a great big 7.5-litre V8 under the bonnet of the 442 along with his obligatory Hurst dual gate shifter, the Hurst Performance and Oldsmobile association was born. That year, 515 units of the special edition Hurst/Olds muscle car were built and enthusiasts immediately snapped them up. The duo had another go at it in ’69 and the outcome was the same — people loved it.

Those early cars are well known for their tyre-shredding power, but with stringent new emissions regulations and the rising cost of oil in the early seventies, those fire-breathing monsters became a less common sight on the road in the US. However, even during the ‘Malaise Era’ there was hope.

1979 was the sixth time Hurst and Olds collaborated and although the Cutlass Calais-fettled version was half as powerful as the ’69 model (it made 170 horses — back then that was as exciting as 500 horses is today...) but it was one of the more potent cars on sale at the time.

When you ticked the W30 option package it got you a 350 cubic inch (5.7-litre) V8 (it was the first H/O not to have a 455 engine) with a four-barrel 700cfm Rochester Quadrajet carburetor, a 2.73 rear end, a TH-350 three-speed automatic transmission with Hurst Dual Gate shifter and power brakes. You could have it in either two-tone black and gold or white and gold and it rode on 14in wheels wrapped with extra fat tyres. Other goodies included reclining bucket seats, Rallye gauge package and power steering. It wasn’t exactly a speed demon like its predecessors but by ’79 standards, it was a powerhouse. They didn’t exactly grow on trees either; in ’79 just 2,499 Hurst/Olds W30s were built (1,334 had the favourable black and gold treatment and only 537 received factory T-tops).

If you want one today you’ll find that prices tend to vary from Dh25,000 for average condition models to around Dh75,000 for well-maintained low mileage cars.