Indy Pace Car! 1974 Hurst/Oldsmobile Cutlass 455

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Usually when one thinks of Oldsmobile’s association with Hurst, the archetypal 1969 version springs to mind. But Hurst and Oldsmobile had a long association with each other and today we are going to review an example from their 1974 collaboration. Located in San Diego, California is his 1974 Hurst/Oldsmobile Cutlass S Indy 500 pace car. This one has an interesting back story, so let’s check it out. It is available, here on craigslist for $29,000. Thanks to Rocco B for this tip!

The Hurst association with Oldsmobile started in 1968 and continued in ’69, ’72-’75, ’79, ’83, and ’84.  As for pacing the Indy 500, Oldsmobile had the honor, generally with the Cutlass, in ’70, ’72, ’74, ’77 (Delta 88), ’85, ’88, ’97, (Aurora), ’00 (Aurora), and ’01 (Bravada).  Of those years, the Hurst association was present on the pace cars for both ’72 and ’74. As the seller states in his listing, there were about 1,800 Hurst/Oldsmobile pace cars built for 1974.

This particular example was originally built with a 180 net HP, 350 CI V8 “Rocket” V8 as California’s CARB restrictions precluded the registration of vehicles with the more powerful 455 CI engine. This pace car, however, has undergone an engine transplant substituting a 230 net HP, 455 for the original 350 CI motor. What’s interesting about this swap is that the new, bigger engine has not experienced any performance-enhancing modifications – it’s in stock form. The 455 motor, only gracing 380 of the 1,800 pace cars produced, makes, according to the seller, “a very fun way to experience an exceptionally rare car“. The standard three-speed automatic transmission handles gear changes though the one installed here looks like a “350” unit and not the more robust “400” that would have originally been installed behind the 455 engine.

The interior upholstery treatment caught me off guard at first, I assumed that the black and white vinyl color combination was an after-the-fact change but it’s not and it’s original – definitely an attention-getter! The rest of the interior is in like-new condition, no mean feat when so much of it is white. While only having experienced 19K miles of use, time the avenger has a way of turning white interior materials yellow – not the case here. The four-spoke X steering wheel is a very distinctive feature of the Hurst option package and looks as you would expect, it has not felt the grip of many hands. Other than the missing knob on the driver’s side window crank, nothing is out of place or requires attention.

There’s no mistaking the exterior of a Hurst Oldsmobile, especially one dolled up as an Indy 500 pace car. This example is no exception as it is resplendent in its gleaming white finish and accompanying gold highlights. The seller makes note of the two-tone vinyl top, likening it to a Targa inspired design, that is how it appears. The decals are all still clear, no evidence of lifting or cloudiness, and the gold striping is still exactly where it was originally placed, no sign of it peeling or shifting. The only issue noted is an imperfection in the lower front corner of the passenger side door, it may just be a scrape, however. There are a few images of the underside included and you can forget about any indication of rust or corrosion though the front cross member looks to have had a few scrapping run-ins with speed bumps or some other obstacle.  This Oldsmobile has been well stored over its 47 years of life.

Cars like this pace car seem to be collection pieces or car show attendees and that’s about it, especially one that is in as original condition as this example is. Beyond that, any type of light use would probably be limited at best. But if collecting either Indy pace cars or Hurst Oldsmobiles is your thing, you would be hard-pressed to find a better 1974 subject than this example, don’t you think?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Mike

    I always thought plastering “Official Pace Car” on cars that weren’t a part of the actual race was kinda tacky. Just put the Indy logo on the front fenders and rear trunk lid and be done with it.

    Like 11
    • Richard Isenberg

      I so agree with u sir. Love Oldsmobiles though

      Like 3
  2. DSteele

    Great write-up about this Hurst Olds and some of the information about the Hurst Olds, but no mention of the man who brought it to fruition. Jack “Doc” Watson was the man that brought this idea to Oldsmobile, the rest is history. Jack was a great man I knew him personally and to me he will always go down as the greatest engineer I’ll ever know. He also brought the Jaws of life to reality (Jaws was Jack’s initials) and his idea has saved thousands of lives but yet in this write-up not one mention of the man that started it all Jack “Doc” Watson
    RIP Jack

    Like 11
  3. t yersd

    Dual snorkel air cleaner came from the first gen Toronado.

    Like 6
    • Quicko

      I too love the olds, had several cutluss’ and currently own a ,87 i put a 455 in also a 72 delta conv always garage kept

      Like 1
  4. JCAMember

    Wow. The holy grail of late 70’s sticker cars. She’s got a ton of flair…

    Like 3
  5. Jcs

    Nice looking H/O.

    The interiors on these didn’t wear well and replacements are unobtanium, restoration is also difficult as the plastics (or whatever strange material it is) disintegrated over time and are impossible to “slick-up” and dint take dye. This one looks better than most but the lower door panels do show some of the typical degradation. The rear interior side panels, both upper and lower warrant a closer look as these are usually the worst for wear.

    Seller has this one priced on the high side of what an original matching number 455/Turbo 400 might bring.

    Like 6
  6. Danny

    I bet there are very few in this condition. I would take it stickers and all.

    Like 2
  7. Poppy

    Shouldn’t this car have the 1-year-only 15×7 SSIII wheels with the last of the bolt on center caps?

    Like 1
  8. JoeNYWF64

    Racing stripes, a hood ornament!, & big bumpers don’t go well together, IMO.
    Is that an electric fuel pump undereath? …
    If so, it should not be needed, if you try to start the car properly after sitting long time, & the choke is adjusted properly, & the accelerator pump is ok.
    Astounding condition for a GM 70’s car underneath that was not undercoated.

    Like 0
    • Mike Brown

      On first glance I thought it was an electric fuel pump too. However, after looking at the pic for a few seconds, I realized that it’s an oil cooler.

      Like 0
  9. Roger u

    I nvr saw 1 with the seats in 2 tone very nice

    Like 1

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