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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.


Dec 1, 2010 at 11:25 am

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Aug 2, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Ask the man who owned one for 12 years. I loved taking unsuspecting friends for rides in my big old boat. it’s funny hearing grown men scream for their mommy! If the car makes people pee, it’s a musclecar!

Jul 13, 2009 at 4:05 pm

This is a beautiful car. I own a 300 Hurst although I don’t drive it that much. Crazy story on how I came acroos this car. One Saturday afternoon about 5 years ago my son and I were driving through a small town 30 miles away from home. We were on our way home from an auction and were pulling up to stoplight in the middle of this small town. I noticed a small car lot on my right side. I had seen the car lot before but this time, tucked in toward the back of the lot I noticed this car that looked like a 300. I took a closer look and told my son, “That looks like a 300 Hurst”. I immediately turned around to check it out. It definitely was a 300 Hurst but the car lot was closed. I looked the car over and it was in great shape. I took the car lot tel number down and called on mOnday morning and that afternoon I bought the car. The lot owner did not realize what he had so I got it for a really fair price. I love the car. The performance is good and the looks are stunning. All in all, a great luxury muscle car.

Apr 10, 2009 at 10:33 am

I have a Chrysler Inperial 300H. Since none of your members has one would anyone be interested in buying one? This car also came with a Chrystler boat. We do not have the original boat but we have one like it. Contact me by email at Dragonfly45@ymail.com.

Mar 11, 2009 at 12:51 am

Its a muscle car

Mar 3, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Little known fact, Daivd North (designer of the 1966 Toronado, and 1995-1999 Olds Aurora, calimed Ford copied designed cues from the Toronado, and applied them to the Mercury Cougar

Mar 1, 2009 at 5:57 am

AWESOME AWESOME write up !!!!! I read in the Hurst Hertiage book (1983), that there was two 1970 300Hs with a 426 Hemi, and two ragtops too.
People do not realize there are “luxury musclecars”!
That is why I have posted profiles on my 1968 W-34 Toronados.

Feb 28, 2009 at 8:15 am

nice.def muscle

Feb 27, 2009 at 6:02 pm

If you ask me, that is Chrysler’s answer to the Cougar, or perhaps the Cougar was Ford’s answer to the 300 and Chrysler just upped the ante. The 300 is muscle car in every traditional sense of the word.

Feb 27, 2009 at 5:14 pm

I’ll tell you what, I wish I were the only Cardomain member that owned one, what an awesome 300! I’ve been around the block a few times, and actually have never seen a Hurst 300!! Is is a muscle car? You bet your ass it is!

Feb 27, 2009 at 10:52 am

Nice 300! Too bad more of these weren’t produced. A BB engine with probably over 4,000 pounds of “Detroit Iron” – definitely a muscle car.

Feb 27, 2009 at 10:12 am

I always thought these land yachts were awesome, and I’m a sucker for special edition performance models. Thumbs up!

Feb 27, 2009 at 8:06 am

this is a bit too ornate for my liking; can I just have an early 70′s Chrysler Newport coupe, in black, with a 440/6?

-James from CarThrottle

Feb 27, 2009 at 6:42 am

Awesome man I think that’d be a fun ride. Long live the performance land yachts! Good write up UDman.

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