Rare Off-Roader: 1971 Jeepster Commando Hurst Edition

Of all of the production vehicles to ever wear the Hurst badge, the 1971 Jeepster Commando Hurst Edition would appear to possibly be one of the rarest. Originally planned on a production run of 500 vehicles, the reality turned out to be far less than that. Just how many has always been a bone of contention, but at the time of writing, the Hurst Jeepster Register only shows 65 of these vehicles currently in existence. Barn Finder Lee S referred this Jeepster to us, so thank you so much for that Lee. It is located in Hayden, Idaho, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $5,500 for this Hurst-enhanced classic.

The Commando Hurst Edition was all about “show,” and owed nothing to “go.” The only performance enhancement was the addition of wider steel wheels fitted with Goodyear Polyglas road tires. Everything else was designed to improve the Jeepster’s appearance. This included the Champagne White paint, the distinctive (and none-too-subtle) red-and-blue stripes, and the Hurst badges that were found on the hood, doors, and the lid of the glove compartment. All Hurst Editions also came with a chrome roof-rack, and while this certainly couldn’t be considered to be a performance item, it was, at least, a practical addition to the vehicle. While the ABS hood scoop was considered to be non-functional, it did have one use, as you can see. It housed an 8,000rpm tachometer, which was all part of the package. The owner says that this vehicle is going to require a complete restoration, and there is certainly some rust to be addressed. The front floors are particularly bad, and while we don’t get a look at the driver’s side of the Jeepster, there are a few rust bubbles showing on the passenger side. The distinctive hubcaps are also missing, while the UV rays have taken a toll on the hood scoop. However, I think that this might be able to be restored by an expert. I certainly hope so, because I don’t fancy the chances of the next owner locating a replacement easily. That might also be the case for the hubcaps, so there could be a bit of searching involved in bringing this one back to a completely original state.

Apart from the pair of aftermarket gauges that have been cut into the dash, the interior of the Hurst Edition looks to be largely original. Certainly, the factory radio is still fitted to the dash, and the original upholstery is still on the seats. However, the fact is that this is an interior that will require complete restoration. The good news is the fact that the interior trim material is nothing particularly special. The interior trim was a production “Trim Package B,” which gave the Jeepster front bucket seats and a rear bench seat. These were trimmed in either black, buckskin, or in this case, blue vinyl. The most distinctive interior feature was, without doubt, the Hurst shifter. In the manual, the owner would get a T-Handle shifter, while the automatic vehicles received the famous dual-gate shifter. That and the original console are still present in this vehicle, and they look to be in quite reasonable, restorable, condition. One of the numerous areas of conjecture with the Hurst Edition surrounds the steering wheel. The original plan was for the Jeepster to feature a padded sports wheel with brushed chrome spokes. The prototype vehicle that was unveiled to the press featured this wheel, and I have seen a couple of production vehicles fitted with a wheel that looks very similar. However, the vast majority of Hurst Editions seem to feature wheels the same as the one we see on this Jeepster.

While the owner provides no engine photos, we do know that under the hood is the 160hp, “Dauntless” 225ci V6 engine which was a compulsory requirement as part of the Hurst Edition package. Owners had a choice between the 3-speed T-14A manual or 3-speed Hydramatic transmission. This Hurst Edition is fitted with the Hydramatic, and both the engine and transmission are said to be original to the vehicle. The engine doesn’t currently run, but the owner claims that it does turn freely. Returning to an earlier point, the owner states that the majority of Hurst Editions were fitted with 5½” wheels, but this one wears the rare 6½” rims. He also claims that he has been told that only about 10 vehicles ever received the larger wheels. In the spirit of taking such claims with a grain of salt, I have spent quite some considerable time pursuing this claim, and all that I have been able to find is that the original package apparently specified 6″ wheels, and I’ve found no mention of the other two sizes. Maybe one of our readers might be able to shed some light on that for us.

The original intention was that the 1971 Jeepster Commando Hurst Edition was going to be built with a split of 300 automatic versions, and 200 with a manual transmission. As is often the case with vehicles like this, aspirations and reality failed to meet, and there were definitely less than 500 Hursts that rolled off the production line. A large part of the problem surrounded the vehicle’s price. Based on the 8705F Station Wagon ($3,208), prospective owners had to add the cost of the V6 engine ($211), Trim Package B ($350), Hurst Edition pack for the automatic ($275), and then the automatic transmission itself ($326). Without choosing any other optional equipment, this pushed the final price up to $4,370, or a 36% increase over the price of a standard Jeepster Wagon. For that sort of money, the prospective buyer was offered no appreciable gains in performance, while the choice of tires would have compromised the Jeepster’s off-road ability. Final build numbers have always been a matter of conjecture, with estimates generally sitting around the 100-105 vehicle mark. Even the various enthusiast groups and the Register aren’t completely sure on this fact. This one is #86, and if the total is only around the 100-vehicle mark, that makes this a pretty late build. Values vary quite widely, but an absolutely pristine automatic can fetch up to around $25,000. I have seen some pretty rough project vehicles sell for around the same price as this one, and an absolute dog recently sold for $1,400. One thing is almost certain, and that is that if you bought and restored this, you would have the only factory Hurst-equipped vehicle of this type at the next Cars & Coffee.

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Comments

  1. Rube Goldberg Member

    Well, it certainly says something about the clientele here, which I feel is a pretty good indicator of our hobby, 12 hours and not one comment on the “Holy Grail” of Jeeps. I think that’s kind of sad.

    Like 5
  2. Coventrycat

    They’re no different than a Grand National. All the same color, options, etc. They get kinda dull.

    Like 5
    • David Ulrey

      I’m glad to see that I’m not that the only one that feels that way. These, the Grand National’s and first generation Broncos. All very cool vehicles but I’m starting to think there were actually millions of these produced secretly.

      Like 2
  3. Dan B.

    These are awesome until you get to the automatic transmission part. Sweet tach on the hood scoop.

    Like 2
  4. Mike_B_SVT

    Is it just me? Every time I see one of these I think it is a US Mail truck. White, with a little red-white-blue stripe. All it’s missing is the steering wheel on the wrong side, and someone in a blue uniform leaning out the window >.>

    Like 12
    • ReTired

      Hah! I was thinking the same thing. Should have been called the “Commando Postal edition”. (sorry – no disrespect to the Jeep fans out there).

      Like 2
  5. Bodyman68

    This could be a nice jeep and it would be great to see it restored. But like the ads said that yhe had no go at all and a v6 is not any form of power house. Call dennis in dallas so gas monkey can make it real.

    Like 1
    • Joshua Nielsen

      Well we bought one, gonna get a full restore done from frame up. Would call Dennis at gas money but that be pricy. We restore ourselves. Cool Jeep

      Like 1
  6. Glenn Schwass Member

    There was just one of these on here but someone had stolen the tach, which would not be fun to find. I feel the same way, the automatic kills it for me, if I was looking for one…

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