The Build - 1973 Hurst Oldsmobile

The Build - 1973 Hurst Oldsmobile

The Build 1973 Hurst Olds

"Since I was 17 I always have had a cutlass or 442 as my daily driver or later in life my “fun” car.

About 12 years ago I got a hankering for a Hurst Olds, the rarest of the breed, and thought that the 1973 Hurst Olds was a bit of a sleeper, rare and under appreciated for its performance and style, and relatively affordable. I purchased a White one and that’s when the trouble started.

6 years later a gentlemen was put in contact with me who saw my car in the Sanders Street Rods shop. “I’ve got one of those in black, bought it new locally when I was 18. I disassembled it about 10 years later with 36 thousand original miles but never put it back together. I want you to have it” he says to me. “I will give it to you if you put it back on the road. I have felt guilty about the state of the car for over 30 years.”

Now I’m in big trouble. This 73 Hurst Olds was a “V code” car that came with a higher performance 455 and Posi traction. V code Hurst Olds could only be ordered on non AC cars due to idling characteristics of the cam. Out of 1,100 Hurst Olds, 450 are black, and maybe 15% ordered without AC? Of those 60 or so V code cars, how many are left?

Given this HO rarity, access to the original owner and documentation, low miles and nearly perfect sheetmetal, there was no turning back. I had to rebuild it , better than before. (Pics of car condition prior to work beginning)

The Build…..This is your Part Josh. – Gus Simonds, Car Owner

View Build Gallery Specs on Olds 442

The Build Details by Josh Sanders:

"Street Rods by Denny started this project and about half way through the job Denny Olson retired. I took over Denny's business Jan of 2021 under the new name Sanders Street Rods and brought the project to the finish line the Summer of 2021.

The goal of this project was to restore the former beauty of this colonnade classic but make some modest upgrades to performance, handling and appearance. Things like coil over shocks, rack and pinion, bored cylinders and painted Hurst graphics buried in clear are examples of the upgrades to come.

We received the Hurst Olds completely disassembled and in boxes. The body was in primer, piles and piles of trim, interior and engine parts filled the car. We immediately began sorting through the parts and organizing. We could tell right away that there were some important missing pieces and even parts from other cars that had made their way into the mix over the years. Later a donor car was purchased to provide some of the missing pieces. After that the engine was taken to Stewart machine for Gus's wish list of upgrades and the body and frame were off to the sandblaster.

Body and paint:
The body came back from the sandblaster in pretty good shape, it was clear that this was a low miles car that had been kept under cover for most of its life. I had to shape up a lower quarter panel patch and some other small parts. The odd part was at some point they decided to cut a hole in the roof for a sunroof. This was one of the young Dave's ideas when the car was taken apart years ago. Gus wanted to eliminate it and return it back to stock. I wheeled up a sheet metal panel and welded it into the roof. The trim also presented some challenges. Particularly the piece for the half landau that was missing. This was a unique feature to the Hurst olds that finished out the leading edge of the soft top that also created the unique "opera" window. After searching deep in the internet for a guru that possessed the missing piece and was willing to part with it, we decided it would have to be built from scratch using only pictures. Looking at the pictures I realized the shape was very similar to the rear vinyl top trim at the trunk lid of a Chevelle. I pulled the part from my car and sure enough it was very close. I had to cut the ends, bend them to the roof contour, weld and polish them. Doug expertly fit all the body panels with attention to the gaps, levels and lines. After several rounds of priming and blocking he laid the base coat black, then painted the gold graphics, and clear coated over everything. A full cut and buff followed to eliminate orange peel and sand the clear over the graphics flat. The bumpers would later be moved closer to the body, eliminating the big factory shocks from the factory and creating a cleaner look.

The stock chassis was used with upgrades in suspension and steering. We fit the front and rear with adjustable coil overs to achieve that perfect rake look that Gus was after. All new bushings and bearings of course. The most unique part was the one off rack and pinion steering. Gus had always felt like the steering fell short in these cars. The problem is, nobody made a bolt in set up for the 73'. After measuring and sorting out the geometry of the tie rods, bump steer and clearance of the surrounding components. I felt that I could make a rack and pinion kit from a Chevelle work in Gus's car. I built new brackets, flipped the travel bar, re-drilled it to accept the larger tie rods that came on the 73' and up model year and it worked! This dramatically changed the handling characteristics of the car and tightened the steering. The old steering gear was no match to a modern rack and pinion set up from Flaming river.

Engine is bored to 471 Cubic Inches, compression increased from 8.5:1 stock to 10:1 now. Stock heads reworked with larger valves and high lift roller cam and roller rockers. The Trans is still the same numbers matching from the factory as well as the torque converter which was special compared to a base cutlass. Posi rear end from the factory would put the power to the ground. Custom built stainless tig welded exhaust brought the deep rumble to the back of the car and provided optimal ground clearance for the new and improved stance. Upgraded dual electric fans would cool the monster and a programmable MSD box would control the timing and eliminate any detonation with the added horsepower. Matt and I built a harness for the car with an American Autowire fuse panel. This gave us the versatility of wiring the new ignition system and all the extra lights and power windows that came in the Olds.

The hurst dual gate shifter and the swivel seats screams 70's Olds. Overall the interior remained stock with improvements in fit and finish. Mcfarland upholstery did the upholstery, wrapped the seats and created a headliner that would work after filling in the sun roof holes. The half landau top and opera window presented its challenges. With everything disassembled when we received the car, we relied on pictures to get everything put back together properly. The stock gauges were repaired and reused along with the console and most of the dash. An upgraded stereo was fitted in the factory opening.This was a very fun project that resulted in a great vehicle. I hope you guys can see the story and put this well deserved car in print. Everyone that has seen the car at shows over the last couple years have expressed excitement and even memories of these cars and the significance of its time. Thanks.

"My first trip in the completed Black Colonnade Rocket was to the original owner, David Ballestrasse, so we could go the maiden cruise together. Bursting with a smile David walked around the car while memories of his youth flooded in.

I handed him the keys and the fresh Rocket 455, now 471Ci and 10:1 compression, rumbled to life. We went for a spirited cruise on the same roads the car had traveled 35 years prior. David had stories of races, girls and misadventures, that added to the mystique of this now beautiful piece of history. At the end of our drive David shared one more story - evidently at only 18yrs old, the Oldsmobile Salesman didn’t want to sell him such an exquisite car.

David bet him the Oldsmobile ring on the salesman finger that he would bring that car back in 2 years in perfect condition. David then reached in his pocket and handed me the ring – “the ring goes with the car” he said. I was speechless, what a cool way to finish a full restoration and share it with the original owner. (Pic of ring)

I hope other Colonnades get the respect they deserve as a piece of American Muscle. I have fallen in love with the unique lines of this car and she scoots! Big tires and big engines make for a sexy ride!" – Gus Simonds

Got a classic build you'd like help you with?

Josh Sanders; Owner
Sanders Street Rods Inc.
(253) 350-8593

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