George Hurst --- January 14, 1927 - May 19, 1986

George Hurst


Times Nominated: 2
Nominated Year(s): 2018, 2019
Last Year of Eligibility: 2023
Category: Pontiac Ambassador




The following BIO has been brought to you by Dennis Kirban



BIOGRAPHY


You often here the phrase "Being in the right place at the right time". Never is that more true than when Pontiac would launch the GTO that first model year in 1964. But first lets back track a few years.

George Hurst served in the Navy at the near by Willow Grove airbase in the 1950s and his experience in the Navy would stay with him throughout his life. This is evident in the Hurst Armed Forces newsletter he did and the fact he would later take the Hemi Under Glass car around to various military bases.

George Hurst started in a small shop in a suburb of Philadelphia first, by making various engine mounts to adopt the new 265 Chevy V8 engine into a variety of other cars. Under the new company he formed he also dabbled in other projects including making a better bumper for the new VWs that were coming stateside.

He really struck gold when his company started to make first the 3 speed shifters and later the 4-speed shifters. Hurst probably from the get go was way ahead of all the competition with the shifters. They had a quality product that was virtually unbreakable. They also had an unbeatable warranty. If it broke you could get it repaired for free. Here was a company on the east coast not the west coast that captured the hot rod market with their shifters.

George was a PR machine going to various speed shops to show his products as well as to all the local race tracks as he fully realized the importance of show casing his products in order to grow.

Pontiac was the first of the major car companies to actually install a Hurst shifter in a production car. The launch of the GTO and shifting the gears was a Hurst shifter.

Unfortunately for George Hurst was not permitted to put their name on those GTO shifters that first year 1964. Adding insult to injury to save time on the assembly line Pontiac used their own shifter rods and buttons to secure each gear rather than the positive threaded rods that Hurst used with their shifters.

Things looked better with the 1965 GTOs as Hurst was permitted to have the Hurst name on the chrome stick. It is believed that Hurst was the first first that GM allowed to do this. Prior to this only the tire manufacturer could have their name visible on a GM vehicle. One of the best PR moves was creating the 1965 GTO Hurst car give away.

Looking back, this was an amazing feat for a small company in Pennsylvania to land an account with Pontiac Motor Division. George was smart as he never put all his eggs in one basket and would soon work on developing a product that would prove to be a life saver even to this day. That product was called the Jaws of Life.

George Hurst led his company for many years and was quick to adopt other products for the car market. Ironically his favorite car was the Oldsmobile and that is why the Hurst Olds came about and not a Hurst Pontiac.

George Hurst made his big money with Pontiac as obviously they produced large numbers of 3 and 4-speed manual GTOs in those early years. Hurst would later land contracts with Oldsmobile, and Buick. However most of those cars were automatics each year. For whatever reason Chevrolet stuck with the Muncie shifter

Over the years many companies have entered the shifter game, but one name always rises above all the others for a 4-speed shifter and that name is Hurst.


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