the one guy that added more fun to hot rodding than probably any other, (with only an 8th grade formal education)
The Hurst Armed Forces Club!
the GTO races,
the Hairy Olds,
The Jaws of Life!
The Hurst Hemi Under Glass 'Cuda,
the Hurst SC/Rambler,
the Hurst Baja Boot,
the Gasser Passer
the Hurst Shawnee Scout
the Hurst Jeepster,
the Shifty Doc Watson traveling performance clinic,
and Hurst Super Stock AMXs, Darts, Barracudas,
the Hurst Olds,
and Hurst Airheart brakes - who compares to all this?
There is a wikipedia entry for Hurst Performance... it's not very good
George Hurst worked with more car companies than maybe anyone I know of. Jeep, Pontiac, Dodge, Oldsmobile, International Harvester, and AMC.
For a good look through some cool stuff that the Hurst performance company made: https://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2019/04/cool-hurst-stuff-coming-to-auction-from.html
Born in New York City in 1927, died in 1986, Redlands California, in his garage. Suicide by carbon monoxide.
George's mom, Antoinette, was a naturalized citizen from Kutai Hora Czechoslovakia
His dad was a WW1 Army vet who worked for the National Biscuit Co in New York City
And his paternal great grandfather William Jackson Hurst was born in Ireland, 1818, and came to the USA before the Civil War, and enlisted in the 198th Infantry in Aug 1864, and mustered out a year later in May of 65. Lived in Pennsylvania
And there you have the most thorough info on his life before going into car parts business that the rest of the world is already familiar with. How about that... WW2 air craft carrier duty. I've never heard that before (thanks Steve!) Correction, I forgot, I had posted that he was an Navy Aircraft Machinist https://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-frantic-fish.html
After the Navy, 1943-1954, he resettled in eastern Pennsylvania in 1954 and became very active in the local drag racing scene.
His marriage didn't work out and no one even mentions the name of his wife. It was Lila, and they divorced in 1984
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.
In the mid-fifties, he and his friend Bill Campbell started a garage in Abington, Pennsylvania, where they built aftermarket engine mounts for performance cars. Although Hurst’s formal mechanical training was limited, he had an intuitive knack for automotive engineering and, more importantly, was a natural showman with a flair for clever promotions.
Hurst Performance was originally named Hurst-Campbell. The company was established in 1958 as an auto repair shop when George Hurst and Bill Campbell were both young men. An older man named Lawrence Greenwald (who is credited, among other things, as one of the inventors of stretch nylon hosiery), took certain cars from his collection to Hurst's shop for repair. Greenwald saw promise in Hurst and Campbell and decided to finance them in a venture to manufacture large aftermarket bumpers for VW buses, which were becoming increasingly popular.
When Volkswagen began manufacturing its own large bumpers for the buses, Hurst-Campbell branched out into the piston-driven gearshift business.
After some early setbacks, Hurst and Campbell formed a partnership with Jonas Anchel and Ed Almquist, founders of the speed shop Anco Industries. Together, they developed and launched several new products, including a revised engine mount design called Adjusta-Torque and a floor-mounted shift linkage for three-speed manual transmissions.
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.
Since Almquist and Anchel were neither willing nor able to put up the substantial amount of capital needed to market the new linkage, Hurst and Campbell obtained a $20,000 loan and established their own company, Hurst-Campbell, Inc., in Warminster, Pennsylvania. It opened for business in 1959.
The hot-rodding and drag racing scene was booming in the late fifties and early sixties and Hurst-Campbell found a ready market for their shifters and shift linkages. Whatever Hurst’s mechanical abilities, his greatest talent was concocting stunts and gimmicks to market Hurst-Campbell products. Hurst sponsored drag racers; offered new cars as prizes for race winners who used Hurst products; and hired a buxom beauty queen named Linda Vaughn as “Miss Hurst Golden Shifter,” paying her to attend racing events in her gold bikini, suggestively caressing giant replicas of Hurst’s signature product. Some of Hurst’s promotional stunts were undeniably effective.
By the mid-sixties, Hurst-Campbell revenues were more than $20 million a year and Hurst shifters had become almost de rigueur among serious enthusiasts.
He was the co-founder of the Hurst Performance Product Co. and was associated with high-performance vehicles and automotive advances, particularly in the area of car transmissions. His Hurst Shifter, a floor-mounted gear shift for performance cars, made him a wealthy man.
Are you fucking kidding me? Do you have an idea how effing rare it is that anyone gives a shit about employees, much less hires anyone with any disability? Damn, this is incredible info, and I've never heard about it either. This seriously sheds light on why Linda has said so many good things about George. She never mentioned this though. Wow... sending a guy work, at his home, so he can keep a job? That's incredible!
The company has since been sold several times, said Chuck Lamerel of American Bristol Co., seller of the jaws of life. The jaws of life tool was originally developed by Hurst in the 1960s to rescue drivers in crashes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then adopted by rescue agencies throughout the country, Lamerel said.
George Hurst wrote a self help book that was published in 1984, "The Perfect You", there are maybe 5 copies for sale online, all for 75 to 125
In March 1984 Popular Mechanics did a paragraph about the transmission George was working out problems with... the problem was that the damn thing wouldn't work yet. Doubtless, it was about a whisker off from being the next must have for racers, like, a Lenco. Keep in mind, the Hurst Lightning Rod shifters... Hurst knew transmissions!
Tragic as his rise and fall are, as far from normal as either gets, he's getting hero status from me for the Jaws of Life invention. That's fair. No less should anyone expect, no more should anyone ask