February 27, 2009
CarDomain Obscure Muscle Car Parking Lot: the 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst
By Jim Brennan
Welcome to the CarDomain Obscure Muscle Car Parking Lot, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is, and have some fun in the process. It wasn’t the Pontiac GTO, Ford Mustang or Chevy 409 that began the performance car wars, it was arguably, the Chrysler 300. Making its debut in 1955, the 300 was so-named because of its 300hp Hemi V-8. The 300 Letter Series, as they would be known as, were produced as llimited edition, factory hot rods, through 1965, when the last 300 “L” was produced. After an absence of four years, a full-size Chrysler muscle car made an appearance once again in 1970. Introducing the Chrysler 300 “H” Hurst edition.
Continue reading after the jump!
The Chrysler 300 Hurst was a special model and is seen today as a legitimate member of the Chrysler 300 Letter Series. At a total length of over 18 and a 1/2 feet, it was also one of the largest 2 door coupes ever produced. At that time, the still independent Hurst Company not only manufactured shifters and other performance enhancing products, it also produced car concepts based on regular production cars. Many of the concepts were never realized, though it seems that this one was destined for production.
There seem to be a lot of theories as to why there were only 485 or maybe 500 cars built, but one that has been widely circulated was that the approval came well after the regular 1970 Chryslers were already in production. Apparently, it was a scramble to get the Hursts’ made, and to add gasoline to the fire, Chrysler thought Hurst would promote the model and Hurst assumed Chrysler would. As a result, most dealers were unaware of the model, until one showed up on a carrier in their lot. Speculation is that only a few were actually ordered. However, there have been published reports that most 300-Hs’ were customer-ordered, some were designed for dealer stock, and a few were built for the sales bank, so why there were so few sold is still open to debate.
The cars were run through the Chrysler plant on Jefferson Avenue in batches, as two door hardtops in Spinnaker-White. They had Imperial leather interiors in “Saddle” color installed as they went down the Chrysler line. They were then sent to Warminster, PA, where Hurst did the conversions. Originally, the cars were to get deeper oil pans, special ignition systems and of course, Hurst shifters. However, none of that was realized. So it seems that there was very little performance enhancing equipment installed. What Hurst actually did was to cut off the sheetmetal hood skin and replace it with a fiberglass part. Then they installed the fiberglass trunklid plus rear fender end caps and painted the car in the one available color scheme. What appears to be gold color is actually “Satin Tan” which graced the hood, trunk and a beltline streak (this also explains why the interior was in tan and not in gold, which would have been feasible). Where Satin Tan and white bordered, a brown-orange-brown decal stripe could be seen. This stripe also found its way on the lower body side.
The fiberglass hood had a non-functional power bulge scoop (with a “300-H” emblem on either side) and functional recessed twist locks. An interesting fact is that these locks were Oldsmobile parts! The decklid featured an incorporated rear spoiler and no trunk lock. This required the vacuum remote trunk lock as standard, operated from the dashboard, in the glove compartment. It was accompanied by a cable operated emergency unit under the dash. The spoilers were structurally deficient, and many either sagged, or broke, so Chrysler dealers offered support blocks sandwiched between spoiler and lid.
The whole package left room for some additional options, but most characteristics could not be altered. Almost all of the 300-Hursts feature power windows (Some of the Car Magazines that tested a 300 Hurst noted that their particular car had manual crank windows) and one is known to have come with a sunroof. The steel road wheels were also part of the deal. However, they didn’t come all chromed but were painted Satin Tan color and had decals applied along with the stripes in brown and orange. The regular 300 grille with hidden headlights sported orange instead of red accent paint stripes. No vinyl tops could be ordered. In the back, square bright tip exhausts were optional. There were two Convertibles produced as well.
The Chrysler 300 Hurst Convertible with Hurst Spokes Model Linda Vaughn. Courtesy of Hurst.
Under the hood, the 440 cubic inch “TNT” engine with 375 gross horsepower. It breathed through a dual snorkel air cleaner, had dual exhausts and required a beefed up TorqueFlite transmission. No other powertrain was available. Ride was enhanced with a firm suspension due to heavy duty rear leaf springs and larger diameter torsion bars up front (this suspension was also available to other Chrysler models as part of the trailer-towing package). Power front disc brakes were standard, as was the 3.23:1 final drive ratio. Road tests at the time clocked one at 0-60 at 7.1 seconds with the 1/4 mile in 15.3 seconds. Top speed was around 127 MPH.
The interior came in “Saddle” (tan) with leather seats, the same that were optional in 1970 Imperial LeBaron two-door hardtops. The front saw bucket seats with center seat cushion. The drivers’ seat was power actuated, while the passenger seat could recline. The rest of the interior was the regular Chrysler 300 dress-up. Column-shift was standard while the Chrysler console with gear selector was optional and would replace the center seat cushion with armrest. A Tilt-and-Telescope steering wheel was another option, as was air conditioning.
The 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst saw between 485 and 500 copies, experts are not sure. There is a Chrysler Corp. letter from 1972, circulated on the web, that states the smaller figure. Hurst kept a pair of parade/promotional vehicles; one was the convertible and the other was a hardtop with a power-operated, sliding steel sunroof. With a base price of $5,939 it was the most expensive Chrysler in 1970 (except for the Imperials).
Take a look at this video, from Auto Motor und Sport of Germany. Just get past the German, and it’s actually a cool video showcasing the Chrysler 300 Hurst. Enjoy!
Unfortunately, there are no CarDomain members who own one of these rare and exciting boats. Well, once again, I’m asking you, our readers, if the Chrysler 300 Hurst is an Obscure Muscle Car? Would you define it as a muscle car, or just a large luxury barge? Is it too big to be even considered a muscle car? Or, do you think that it’s rarity, and brawn is exactly what a muscle car is? Comments are always welcome, and let’s see what you think.
Check out the other vehicles outlined in this series: The Packard Hawk, The Mercury Marauder, The 1957 Rambler Rebel, The Pontiac Grand Prix GXP, The Dodge Lil Red Express, The Jensen Interceptor, The Pontiac Can Am, The Studebaker R-2, and the Oldsmobile Jetfire.
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