Hurst Hauler: 1966 Pontiac Bonneville Station Wagon

By Mitchell Gildea

In terms of 1960s and 1970s American car culture, it seems that muscle cars and Hurst go hand-in-hand pretty well. Famous for its shifters and other high-performance parts, Hurst worked very closely with the Big Three of Detroit (GM, Ford and Mopar), but it especially had a nice working relationship with Pontiac. This 1966 Bonneville station wagon was not only purchased and built up by Hurst, it was originally sold by Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, Michigan, and is loaded with rare and desirable options! Find it here on Hemmings in Little Compton, Rhode Island, with an asking price of $22,500.

Hurst Performance, Inc. (originally Hurst-Campbell) began as an auto repair shop in Warminster, Pennsylvania when George Hurst (founder of Hurst-Campbell) was a young man. Initially, Hurst-Campbell started out manufacturing large aftermarket bumpers for Volkswagen buses; after VW began making its own large bumpers for the VW Bus, Hurst shifted (no pun intended) his business to shifters and shift knobs beginning in the early ’60s. After gaining national exposure and notoriety in drag racing and custom car culture, Hurst began to work closely with Detroit’s Big Three by fitting its shifters into the Big Three’s high performance offerings. Hurst’s relationship began with Pontiac around 1964, when Hurst’s His ‘N Her automatic shifter was available in Pontiac’s full-size muscle car, the 2+2. The following year, Hurst decked out a 1965 GTO with special Hurst Gold paint, Hurst mag wheels, and a gold-plated Hurst shifter. Nicknamed the GeeTO Tiger, the loaded GTO was given away in a contest where participants had to listen to the song “GeeTO Tiger”, featured on a special album recorded by “The Tigers”, and count the number of times the word “tiger” was mentioned. Participants then had to write a 25-word paragraph on why he or she would like to be the winner of the grand prize GTO (the eventual winner was 19-year old Wisconsin resident Alex Lampone). This 1966 Bonneville station wagon was purchased by Hurst-Campbell from Royal Pontiac in Royal Oak, Michigan, and was subsequently modified by Hurst with gold paint, Hurst mag wheels, and other minor visual tweaks. At first glance, the car is a little weathered, but not in terrible condition. There is some rust on the car (the worst being the rear cargo area floorpan), but can be addressed fairly easily (though the cargo area may be a bit tricky). The vinyl top has seen better days, and there is a little rot-through on the pillars by the rear tailgate. Otherwise, the paint is a little faded, but still presentable, and the bumpers and rocker panel trim are in real nice shape. I would swap the generic blackwall tires for a set of black wall bias-look radial tires, fix the rust, touch up the paint, polish the Hurst wheels, and source and install a new vinyl top.

Though I would have preferred a 421 Tri-Power V8 in this wagon, the car is still equipped with the capable 389 4-barrel V8. Rated at either 325, 333 or 335 horsepower and 429 (325 0r 333 horsepower) or 431 (335 horsepower) lb-ft of torque, the 389 4-barrel is no slouch, but since this car is originally from Royal Pontiac, I think an engine buildup to Royal Bobcat specs would suffice. Backed by a three-speed TH-400 and spinning a Posi-Trac differential, this wagon, though heavy, should have plenty of pickup, and the seller says the car runs and drives well. I would build up the engine as previously stated, add a Gear Vendors overdrive to the TH-400, and detail the engine before venturing off for long, smoky burnouts on a quiet, straight road.

As stated by the seller, this Bonneville wagon is loaded, and the interior is no exception. Optioned with a three-spoke sport steering wheel, factory air conditioning, the rare factory tachometer (mounted to the left of the horizontal speedometer), and power windows. The car is also fitted with a Hurst Dual-Gate shifter with a T-handle grip, and the underside of the dash is signed by Jim Kerr, aka the “Shifty Doctor”. There is also a Hurst sticker mounted inside the glove box door. Inside, the interior will need restoration, with a cracked dash and steering wheel, minor scratches and dulling on the chrome tachometer surround, torn door armrests, tears in the back of the front seat, misaligned power window switch operators, and missing headliner in the rear cargo area. I would carefully restore the interior as necessary, leaving the signature and sticker intact, and swap the T-handle for a black or white Hurst shifter ball. Overall, this car is going to need some moderate cosmetic work before it becomes show-worthy, but I would be tempted to show the car as-is before doing so. Afterwards, I would touch up the necessary areas, restore the interior, build up the drivetrain a little for high-performance and reliability, and show this wagon at the Hurst Nationals in Carlisle and MCACN in Illinois. What are your thoughts on this rare, one of a kind Pontiac Hurst station wagon?

Note from the Editor: We featured this wagon back in 2012, when it was being offered on eBay with a BIN of $12,750. You can read our previous post here.

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Comments

  1. angliagt

    Wouldn’t this be a really cool tow vehicle?
    So much cooler than a new SUV, or crew cab p/u.

    6+
  2. jdjonesdr

    Man, could I make a neat El Camino type of pickup with that thing…

    0
  3. Mike H

    Is this the same car as a few years ago?

    http://barnfinds.com/1966-pontiac-bonneville-hurst-wagon/

    Five years later and close to double the price; now THERE’S an investment for you.

    4+
  4. Vin in NJ

    Sad to see that in the 5 years since the current owner has owned it, nothing was done to preserve or improve on this car.

    11+
    • Johnny Joseph

      Hey Vin,
      Not only did he or she NOT improve the car, but it has aged badly and for that they feel that it is worth $10,000 MORE than it was being offered for in 2012! Paint is quite a bit more faded, as well as the vinyl roof. Engine bay looks lousy, and who knows how (IF) it runs well or not. People are high. And I mean, like, on weed, or something stronger. The original $12,750 is too high in its current state. But, as someone once said: “There’s a sucker born every minute”, so, who knows. If they get anything over $10 grand they should take the money and run. And I agree with what someone else said about the Hurst wheels. THOSE are one of the most valuable things on the car.

      10+
      • Mike

        Guessing bought to turn over. The 12 k was too much. This guy is watching too many car auctions

        4+
  5. John T

    This crate is just screaming for a 4-speed, But c’mon man let’s make a right proper Hurst … I’m talking a stick shift four-on-the-floor manual transmission, please.

    4+
  6. Jack Homen

    No mention of Linda Vaughn, greatest marking in drag racing was her hire by Hurst.

    6+
  7. Dan

    455 and a 4-speed, would love it…..but them dang Hurst wheels are worth a fortune, sold a set for my cousin few years back and they brought $3500…..

    3+
  8. gbvette62

    In the mid 70’s, I was a salesman for a steel company, and Hurst was one of my clients. We sold them cold drawn steel bars for use in making shifter handles, shift linkage and for use in the Hurst Jaws of Life.

    Like every company tied to the auto industry, they were a pain to deal with, especially on pricing. Still, I enjoyed calling on them, because you never knew what you’d see in the parking lot, though I can’t say I ever saw that Pontiac wagon.

    At that time, they were located on Street Road, in Warminster PA, but they moved out of PA years ago.

    5+
    • DrinkinGasoline

      I learned extrication with Hurst Rescue Tools. You mention them to the young guns now and they say: HUH ? I still have the big round patch for the jean jacket that says..
      I Shift With A HURST Shifter circa 1970.

      1+
  9. Sam

    What a cool piece of history that should be restored. While incorrect it would be neat to add some body color/chrome trimmed fender skirts.

    0
  10. AMCFAN

    This great find here today is NOT such a great find. It was on ebay a while back with an ask then of only $12,750. It was sold off ebay for much less. I contacted the then owner at the time to inquire about it.

    What a great profit if the seller/flipper can pull off and convince someone otherwise it was just a simple fleet vehicle. For the double ask I would think at least some tire dressing would be in order or maybe that is $500 extra!

    2+
  11. GJH

    This car was featured in a Cruising New England Episode:

    https://www.helgerbrosspeed.com/home.html

    0
  12. Jim Benjaminson

    The original Gee T O Tiger give away still exists and is on display in Bob Marvin’s collection in Warroad, Minnesota. Google “The Shed” for further information. The collection features 100 cars, most high-performance and many one-of-a-kind cars (including the prototype ’65 Chevelle SS396) and two of the three Smokey Yunick built Hemi-head Chevrolets. The Shed is open to the public, no charge (donations accepted) and if nobody is there, check in at the Chevy dealership next door and they will open it up.

    6+
    • Rich

      Wow. I’m shocked to see a Shed/Warroad reference here. My family lives in Warroad. (I’d be there right now if my lung hadn’t “spontaneously collapsed” last Friday.)

      My dad and uncles/aunts all grew up with the Marvins so I’ve known about the collection forever. It’s certainly worth a look if for some reason, like Walleye fishing on Lake of the Woods, you find yourself there.

      1+
  13. Troy

    Did Hurst use this car for some purpose back then or what? Just curious, really, why they’d build up a station wagon.

    0
  14. W9BAG

    What a fantastic wagon ! It would take a LOT of $$$ to take it to concours condition, but that is where she needs to be; just a step beyond “show able”. The 389 was an incredible engine; quicker than any 455 I’ve ever driven. I had a ’66
    Ventura (!), with the 389, (not sure which one), and it would go from zero to 40 in 2 seconds. Great ride, deserving of a lot of TLC.

    0
  15. Marshall

    A man I knew from the Seattle area has one of these, a teal colored 1966 Poncho wagon with the 389. His dad bought it new. As of about 2011, he told me it had almost 300,000 miles on it. On the back of it is a lift for his scooter. I believe this car has seen continuous use ever since it was new(as of 2011 anyway).

    Anyway, this guy is an “ancient-mobile afficionado” par Excellence as he goes to old car shows at the Triple X Drive-in in Issaquah (which is not only the last Triple X restaurant, but is also well-known for hosting car shows in the Seattle area). He also does all of his own work on his 1966 Pontiac wagon. That’s one reason why he’s kept it, because he knows how to work on it.

    2+
  16. Jack

    This is not far from where I live if somebody wants a local eye. I have met the owners before. They specialize in restoring Ford cars, kind of surprised to see a Pontiac in their collection. The Helgers are known for drag racing too, but they have an extensive Ford restoration business. I wouldn’t really classify them as flippers, but they do sell rare cars. They have easily been in business over 40 years, very reputable. They have a pretty extensive collection of rare Ford parts as well.
    https://www.helgerbrosspeed.com/in-the-media…-1.html

    0
  17. erikj

    marshall,As a old seattle native I remember all what you said. I also remember walking to school in north seattle(Whitman j/h) and going by a garage that had a pontatic s/w set up as a race car. It was called “the worm” I seem to think it was a wagon of around this year.
    Anybody heard of that racer from the day?
    also had a paper rought in my neiborhood and a guy had a ,like 70 ss nova race car call novacane!! I saw a model car kit years later that was a nova ss race car and the box said novacane race car -always wondered if it was made from the one I knew. ! THOUGHTS!!

    0

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