Volume VIII, Number 4
The Hurst Cars as Toy Cars
by Doug Breithaupt
Hurst International is a name that is still recognized by racing fans, especially if they came of age in the 1960's and 1970's. Best known for their 'golden shift' stick shifts, Hurst was actually involved in a variety of automotive-related products. They even teamed up with companies like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Chrysler and American Motors to produce Hurst models in limited numbers.

Hurst also created an unforgettable marketing image with the hiring of Linda Vaughn, a Georgia beauty who turned out to be a talented spokes-person as well as an impressive sight to see. For the 1972 Indy 500, Hurst became the first non-automotive marque to have their name associated with the official pace car, the Hurst-Olds 442. A special pace car was even designed for Miss Vaughn with a huge stick shift on a platform over the trunk, from which Linda was shown to best advantage. A second Hurst-Olds Indy Pace Car was selected for 1974 as well.

Hurst sponsored a variety of drag racers over this same period. The Hurst Hairy Olds became a fixture at NHRA events in the late 1960's. The well-known 'H' shaped Hurst logo was seen on a variety of racing cars over the years from GM, AMC and Chrysler.

Until recently, Hurst production specials of race cars did not exist in small-scale. Thanks primarily to Johnny Lightning, that has changed. JL has done examples of the Indy Pace Cars, drag racers and production specials. Racing Champions and Hot Wheels have also offered models in Hurst colors. HW painted their '70 Oldsmobile 442 in the well-known white and gold Hurst colors although no connection to Hurst is noted. Racing Champions painted their '69 Oldsmobile 442 in correct Hurst colors as part of their 'budget' Street Wheels range. JL has even gone as far as offering a full series of Hurst models. The latest Hurst model from JL is a beautiful replica of the 1971 Pontiac Grand Prix Hurst/SSJ. Jl deserves credit for offering these interesting models. In future, it would be great to see the 1970 Chrysler Hurst/300. They could even convert their 1972 Hurst/Olds Indy Pace Car into the 'giant shifter' model made famous by Linda Vaughn. Here are the Hurst models in my collection.

Linda Vaughn makes a bold marketing statement at the 1972 Indy 500.

Hurst Hairy Oldsmobile 442 (1967) - Johnny Lightning

Hurst Hemi Under Glass ('67 Plymouth Barracuda)
Johnny Lightning

AMC Hurst/AMX (1971) - Johnny Lightning

Hurst SCrambler Rebel - Johnny Lightning

1969 Hurst/Oldsmobile 442 - Johnny Lightning

1971 Pontiac Grand Prix Hurst/SSJ - Johnny Lightning

1972 Oldsmobile 442 Indy Pace Car - Johnny Lightning

1974 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Indy Pace Car - Johnny Lightning

1969 Oldsmobile 442 - Racing Champions