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Folks Of Interest George Hurst

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Abomination, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
    Member

    GEORGE HURST
    Hemmings Muscle Machines - SEPTEMBER 1, 2006 - BY JIM DONNELLY

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    From garage rat to marketing genius

    Even today, details of his early years remain murky and difficult to pin down. Yet despite a sad conclusion to his life, it's beyond debate that George Hurst was not only one of the performance industry's great innovators, but he had very few peers when it came to means of ensuring that people knew his products. Twenty years after his untimely death, Hurst's legacy is his uncanny ability to build alliances with people who really counted, to the mutual benefit of everybody involved.

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    We can say with relative certainty that during the 1950s, Hurst was a T-shirted young man who was very active in the drag racing scene that had boomed in eastern Pennsylvania, with little strips sprouting in many locations from the Pocono Mountains to neighboring stretches of southern New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. Hurst, who was always conceptualizing greatness in his own mind, had an engineer buddy named Bill Campbell. In the late 1950s, they developed an alliance with a young firm named Anco Industries, founded by pioneering Pennsylvania hot rodder Ed Almquist, who had built a name by designing and marketing more than 100 speed components, ranging from performance heads for the flathead Ford V-8 to a simple water-alcohol vapor injector. Almquist had partnered with Jonas Anchel to form Anco in Glenside, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia.

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    Almquist, the author of the sprawling history Hot Rod Pioneers published by SAE International, selected Hurst, his former business associate, as one of the topics in his book. He, too, knows little of Hurst's early years, other than he was apparently a Pennsylvania native, born in 1927, who never went beyond the eighth grade and dropped out of school to join the Navy when he was 16. As he put it, "George was like the rest of us, a born enthusiast, with a real passion for (performance cars). He started with nothing."

    When he made Almquist's acquaintance, Hurst and Campbell were working out of a garage outside Philadelphia in Abington, with engine mounts as their lead product, when two problems occurred. First, a California firm began producing copies of their engine mounts. Next, Hurst became separated from his wife. They found refuge at Anco, where Almquist helped them design an improved engine mount called the Adjusta-Torque. At meetings, Almquist and Hurst debated new products for the company, and focused first on exhaust headers before Hurst persuaded Almquist to build an aftermarket floor shifter.

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    Almquist suggested a design with an adjustable fulcrum he had developed, but Hurst was determined to build a more complicated dual-pattern design. When the first Hurst shifter appeared in 1959, it already had its signature curved, flat chromed lever topped by a knob that resembled a cue ball.

    Almquist and Anchel balked at providing $90,000 in startup cash, however, leading Hurst and Campbell to leave. An agreement between Almquist and Hurst, in which the two decided to focus on aftermarket retailing and component development, respectively, endured for the rest of Hurst's life. At that point, a new employee of the equally new Hurst Performance Inc., Jack "Doc" Watson, described by Almquist as then a gofer, made a personal connection that would set the company's role in history. Through his mother, Watson made a contact with Pontiac, which ended up selecting a four-speed version of the Hurst shifter as standard equipment for its 1961 Catalina powered by the 421-cu.in. Super Duty engine.

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    Watson and Hurst shared an incredible zeal for promotion, and Hurst would ultimately become the guy who made deals with manufacturers, and Watson the technician who made those deals into tangible products. The Super Duty's instant-legend status propelled Hurst, despite its location in Warminster, Pennsylvania, well outside the generally accepted hot-rod mainstream, to industry leadership. Hurst launched into sponsoring race cars and larding out contingency largesse. With Pontiac, Hurst developed custom wheels for the 1965 GTO. Doc became the traveling face of Hurst, dubbed its "Shifty Doctor," hauling a portable machine shop to major drag races and offering free repairs of Hurst products. Also in 1965, he was named head of the new Hurst Performance Center that opened outside Detroit, with the express intent of broadening Hurst's relationships with manufacturers.

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    That led to Hurst-developed creations including the 1968 factory-lightweight cars that Chrysler commissioned for Super Stock drag racing. Other innovations would include the His & Hers shifters so often associated with automatic-transmission GTOs. Watson would create two of the most memorable exhibition cars in drag history, the Hemi Under Glass wheelstander and the dual-engine Hairy Oldsmobile.

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    Hurst also deserves credit for rescuing the pace car program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, partnering with Oldsmobile for a series of pace cars when manufacturers balked at the program, after a Dodge Challenger driven by a local dealer injured scores when it skidded into a photographers' platform at the start of the 1971 Indy 500.

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    Hurst's decision to take his company public in 1968 would ultimately be his undoing. In 1970, Sunbeam Corp., known for countertop kitchen appliances, bought Campbell's share of the company. Despite Hurst's development of the Jaws of Life rescue tool, now standard equipment at fire departments worldwide, the company's new owners had forced him out by the mid-1970s. His despondency culminated with his death in 1986. He was only 59.

    From http://www.hurstjaws.com/
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    "The Hurst shifter was the industry's fastest-selling aftermarket item of all time, other than wheels," Almquist told HMM. "Bill Campbell told me that George could figure things out in his head that Bill needed a slide rule to do. He called him a walking Barnum and Bailey, a brilliant promoter."

    This article originally appeared in the SEPTEMBER 1, 2006 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2009
  2. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
    Member

    Found this while looking for Hurst early Hemi to flathead motor mount adapters. Thought I'd pass it on!

    Follow my search here: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=326072

    If I can get a set of these mounts as a CAD drawing, I'll get 'em to whoever needs 'em. Meanwhile, if you can help us bring these no-longer-made motor mounts back by temporarily offering up a set to make drawings of, or can make drawings yourself, or even can take detailed pics with measurements for us, it would be much appreciated!

    But post that stuff in this thread here: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=326072

    This one is about George! ;)

    ~Jason
     
  3. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
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  4. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
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  5. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
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  6. the shadow
    Joined: Mar 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,104

    the shadow
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    if memory serves me correct , george had some sort of cancer that contributed to a poor quality of life and that was one reason he decided to take his own life?

    Paul
     
  7. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
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    Yep. Cancer, and I heard tax problems/debt. And I'm sure several other contributing reasons. But yeah, the cancer was probably at the top.

    ~Jason

     
  8. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
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  9. k9racer
    Joined: Jan 20, 2003
    Posts: 3,091

    k9racer
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    Mr. hurst being a navy man and a fine person made up and sent a news letter. He sent it to all service men who asked for it that were stationed in South East Asia. I wished I would have kept mine.. Bobby..
     
  10. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
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    Interesting!

    By the way folks, here's an old Hurst catalog:
    http://rides.webshots.com/album/558588875WISMnn

    ~Jason

     
  11. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
    Member

    Bump for Monday Morning!
     
  12. george hurst lived at one time in huntigdon valley pa, not to far from me
    my freinds dad (marty danko) worked for hurst and help devolep the hurst quater stick shifter- hurst performance was located in warminster pa (untill the late 80s) wich is 5 minutes from my house,we use to pick thorough the trash in high school
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2009
  13. good info here, thanks!
     
  14. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
    Member

    Glad you liked it!

    The article was cited (not really "stolen") from Hemmings, and I added pics and video.

    ~Jason

     
  15. stuart in mn
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
    Posts: 1,955

    stuart in mn
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    Through his mother, Watson made a contact with Pontiac, which ended up selecting a four-speed version of the Hurst shifter as standard equipment for its 1961 Catalina powered by the 421-cu.in. Super Duty engine. That part of the story isn't quite correct, since the SD421 didn't show up until 1962 (there were a handful of 421 engines built at the tail end of the 1961 model year but they all went to the big guns like Mickey Thompson, etc. and weren't factory installed in cars.) There was a mid-year dealer installed Hurst shifter option in 1961, but it was for the three speed transmission.
     
  16. Abomination
    Joined: Oct 5, 2006
    Posts: 6,701

    Abomination
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    From 1962:

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  17. Little Wing
    Joined: Nov 25, 2005
    Posts: 7,501

    Little Wing
    Member
    from Northeast

  18. Little Wing
    Joined: Nov 25, 2005
    Posts: 7,501

    Little Wing
    Member
    from Northeast

  19. kozik
    Joined: Sep 14, 2008
    Posts: 68

    kozik
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    as insane as it may be, I basically built my entire Dodge to showcase my Hurst floor mounted 4 speed shifter.
     
  20. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,693

    Weasel
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    Then there was the Hurst Armed Forces Club and Linda Vaughn - the ultimate promo weapon!
     
  21. the shadow
    Joined: Mar 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,104

    the shadow
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    marty's the shit, awesome welder and a great friend! he's got some cool memrobilia that was trashed when mr gasket bought and moved everything from warminster to ohio he had the for thopught to pull it out of the trash bins. George Hurst lived on county club drive in huntington vally pa ( by the june fete grounds), down the street from Dick belfatti (the shadow). my old boss used to do work at his house each month exchanging water conditioning tanks and in the summer he's frequently see the hurst girls sun bathing toppless by the pool, yes topless and they didn't care when he excused himself and walked by with the tanks.:eek:

    Paul
     
  22. Little Wing
    Joined: Nov 25, 2005
    Posts: 7,501

    Little Wing
    Member
    from Northeast

    Super old stuff...
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    Last edited: Mar 12, 2009
  23. dennis kirban
    Joined: Nov 16, 2009
    Posts: 230

    dennis kirban
    Member

    Just saw this thread on George Hurst.....if you go to the early Hurst history thread view one of the last 2 pages I show what I recently acquired....the trophy George won from the Lincoln club with his 41 Lincoln caddy powered...best engine conversion. The trophy survived all these years. The year was 1956. At the time I believe the club was only about 3-4 years old. (Way before my time).

    I believe when he died some sort of sale or auction was held and his personal items got sold. I in turn recently acquired it from a friend of mine.

    I recently visited with Bill Campbell (co-founder of Hurst-Campbell) and he told me several Lincoln owners back then were upset about George winning since the Lincoln was now Caddy powered. I guess the Lincoln engine was not up to the challenge.

    I been told Georges Lincoln is still around somewhere. I am sure that owner would love to have this missing piece to the puzzle.

    denniskirban@yahoo.com
     
  24. The Rat Patrol
    Joined: Dec 29, 2011
    Posts: 29

    The Rat Patrol
    Member
    from Australia

    What should also be recognised is George Hurst and Bill Campbell's involvement in the assembly of the fastsest production Muscle cars ever built - the Super Stock HURST Darts and Barracudas.

    Hurst was consigned by Chrysler to shoe horn the 426 HEMI into these cars, strip them out, refit them with lightweight glass, replace the front panels with fibre glass and deliver them to the dealers.

    130 cars were built, Landy, Sox and McCandless ran them and destroyed all comers.

    Qtr times in the high 10s were not unheard of....in 1969!

    Thanks George and Bill...another quality job of work.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011

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