Ride Of The Week 11/14/2022: Richard Tice's 1976 Olds Cutlass S


THE PROPOSAL CAR

The Hurst company, when based in Southeastern PA, was synonymous with Oldsmobile during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s with the Hurst equipped and branded Cutlass. But, by the mid-1970s, Oldsmobile was selling upwards of 1 million Cutlass models per year and the Hurst partnership was on the wane.


In 1976 Hurst used this captive test fleet Cutlass S as its “proposal car” to GM to continue the Hurst Olds line. It was taken to the Hurst HQ and outfitted with the iconic gold trim, and Hurst equipment, including wheels, shifter, cam and smaller T-tops than the previous model year. However, it failed to sway GM management because of the huge Cutlass sales. Add in the departure of Hurst Project Manager, Dick Chrysler, and the Hurst Olds was shelved for 1976.


In 1977, a second proposal was made to GM and Oldsmobile, this time with a different passenger side removable top. One production model was built and 2,000 more were planned, but again, because of the sales success of the rebodied Cutlass, Oldsmobile didn’t really need to have any special edition to further boost sales. Thus, the Hurst Olds was dead.


As a true test mule, this car sports two different sized t-top panels. It also has a cam that was likely being developed for the new Olds 403 engine and wore different hand painted stripe designs while making appearances at local racetracks thru 1978.


The usual protocol for preproduction test fleet cars is that they go to the crusher, but that was not the fate of this car. It ended up in the possession an Olds dealership owner whose son drove the car and ended up in a head-on collision. It was parked and forgotten until discovered in 2004. The person who found it, verified the VIN and the mileage, and took ownership of the car. He collected parts to repair the crash damage but ultimately couldn’t restore the car. Enter Richard Tice.


Rick bought the car and all the parts and set out on a 3-year journey to restore the Cutlass to its promising 1976 glory. It’s powered by an Olds 350 with a 4-barrel and the 403 cam. The transmission is a Turbo 350 topped with the Hurst Dual Gate Shifter and it has the mismatched t-tops from the 1977 proposal modifications.


Rick said, “My goal to debut the car at the Hurst/Olds National Meeting in Harrisburg. I worked up until the day of the show finishing the graphics, but I got it done!” It’s still a work in progress, but it looks like it’s progressing nicely!


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