While Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers plus scrappy independent AMC were already well underway with cutting their respective high-performance offerings by 1973-1974, Oldsmobile held the line with its renowned Cutlass-based 4-4-2 option, now based on the “Colonnade” style A-Body platform. Both 455ci and 350ci Olds 4-barrel V8 engines were available, plus all the handling, braking, comfort, and appearance upgrades buyers had come to expect from GM’s renowned “engineering” division. For its part, aftermarket supplier Hurst Performance, Inc. applied its own suite of high-end features to the Cutlass, resulting in the limited-production Hurst/Olds, now enjoying its 5th model year in 1974. As the designated supplier of the two Official Pace Cars and the various intermediate and full-size Festival cars for the 1974 Indianapolis 500, Hurst celebrated its second year in this high-profile capacity since 1972. In particular, Hurst’s rise to prominence at the Speedway during the early 1970s was largely due to the various automakers’ reluctance to risk another mishap like that caused in 1971 by a dealer-driven Dodge Challenger while exiting to pit lane after the race start. Stepping into the breech for 1972 and again in 1974, Hurst delighted legions of performance enthusiasts and, by extension, GM’s Oldsmobile division, while solidifying its strong brand presence with a worldwide audience.
In addition to the 2 special Pace Cars featuring removed roof panels and padded roll bars, Hurst supplied 42 Delta 88s, 1 Cutlass 4-door, and 6 Custom Cruiser station wagons for Press and Indianapolis 500 Festival use. At the request of Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Tony Hulman, Oldsmobile also built a specially modified Cutlass Salon 4-door performance sedan with H/O graphics applied. In all, 1,800 examples of the Cutlass-based Hurst/Olds were produced for 1974, including 1,420 W-25 350ci cars rated at 180 hp (also the only engine available for California) and 380 that were powered by the 230 hp W-30 455ci powerplant. Featuring cleaner frontal styling than the year before, the 1974 Hurst/Olds is arguably the best-looking expression of the concept on the GM “Colonnade” body style, available in Cameo White with Gold stripes or Black with Gold stripes.
Originally a 350ci W-25 car, this 1974 Hurst/Olds Indianapolis Pace Car Edition was sold new from the Bonenblust & Buckman Inc. dealership in Rochester, New York. As offered, it has been upgraded to a 230hp 455ci engine driving a Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission with Hurst floor shifter and Positraction limited-slip rear end. Finished in beautifully preserved Cameo White/Gold livery, this H/O also features the Code AN7 option including swiveling front bucket seats in Black and White vinyl, a floor console, and special two-tone vinyl roof covering yielding the appearance of the “targa” tops of the actual Indy pace cars. Offered with just 19,190 seller-stated miles, this rare and highly equipped 1974 Hurst/Olds rides on a set of Gold 14-inch Super Stock III wheels with matching full-size spare and includes excellent original documents like the window sticker, warranty card, owner’s manual, maintenance schedule booklet, and other paperwork.
Rare when new and even more so today, the 1974 Hurst/Olds remains a very desirable performer from the end of the original muscle car era. If anybody doubts the potency of a 230hp 4-barrel Olds 455-powered car, this seasoned Zero260 contributor can still recall they had some pretty good poke – sufficient to smoke the tires on command and provide plenty of late-night thrills beyond 100mph on a nice stretch of open road. They look great and they are comfortable to match, with a decidedly upscale look and feel. According to Hagerty’s current price guide, the 455ci/230hp 1974 Hurst/Olds coupe should be valued from $17.5k for a “good” condition #3 to $26.3k for an “excellent” #2, and $36.4k for a concours-level #1 specimen. Bring a Trailer has offered numerous examples of the Cutlass, 442, and Hurst/Olds over the past few years, but none were 1973-1974 Colonnade-body Hurst/Olds specimens, and while conventional auctions have tended to hammer in Hagerty’s #3 price range, we think this example’s likely above the rest of the fray. With just north of 19,000 miles and all of its attributes, our upgraded-to-455ci subject car looks like a great survivor with great original papers and a period style 455. The asking price may seem a bit strong until its rarity and strong points are considered, making it fair market in our opinion.